Play Reviews – Lost and Found
19 October 2016
‘Lost’ by Jane Thornton and ‘Found’ by John Godber were first presented in 2013 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre (upstairs venue.) Unfortunately they suffered a publicity problem when on the opening press preview night the actress in the these two hander plays went down ill. On the opening night John Godber and Jane Thornton stepped in and did the plays as a rehearsed reading. It took a few days to get a replacement actress and these two plays ‘slipped under the radar a little.
‘Lost’ takes us to the Palm Hotel Showbar at the start of the summer season. Tom, a 28 yr old post-graduate has taken a job at the hotel, as has Chelsea, a 40 something year old. As The Palm Court Boys haven’t turned up they have ben tasked with entertaining the audience for an hour. They do so by creating a tale of Len and Betty, a married couple in their late 60’s who are visiting the hotel. Seen very much from the woman’s point of view the play is almost pantomime and is broad and full of sharp humour. They play to the audience and get them involved – constantly breaking the fourth wall. It has proved to be a great opening play and sits well with an older audience.
‘Found’ by John Godber brings the same two characters of Tom and Chelsea back together at the end of the season after they have been working closely and getting on well. It’s evening and Tom has been out surfing. He has invited Chelsea down to the seafront on the last night of the season. Tom is a quiet Politics student and Chelsea is wild, likes drink, drugs, sex and basically up for a good time. Godber has created a superb drama as their lives unfold with political comment thrown in. Keeping a comic edge to it, the play goes quite dark at times and the characters are very internalised as opposed to the first play.
These plays are a great pairing – requiring simple staging but some complex lighting. Casting is just one man and one woman – but they have to be consummate actors as they are expected to act multiple parts. They need great comic timing and delivery and yet be able to turn their hands to gritty drama. ‘Tom’ should also be able to look good in a wetsuit and, as in our case, be prepared to bare some, if not all, briefly !
At Summerseat we were lucky to have available an actress (Kathryn Bland) that has trained, and appeared at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester and an actor (Stephen Claxon) who had just been nominated for best actor in the Greater Manchester Drama Festival. He happened to be a Personal Fitness Instructor and owned his own wet suit, so easy casting !
We have been delighted with the audience responses. We played one night to drama groups from the local Secondary School and did a Q&A with them afterwards. The rest of the run has sold to a full 100% capacity every night. All in all I think these plays should be on the list for many Amateur Groups being inexpensive to stage, costume and don’t need huge casts. They are difficult to direct and Godber’s lines are horrendous to learn but all in all well worth looking at.
Steve Gill, Director
Summerseat Players at the Theatre Royal, Ramsbottom, Bury, Lancashire