When a cricket ball hits the outside edge of a cricket bat its trajectory is problematical, and the male members of the cricket club in this play certainly have their share of problems.
Have you ever known a club, committee or establishment which didn't have its petty jealousies, occasional back-biting, and intrigues or affairs bubbling away under the surface? Well this one is no exception. This excellent, well-observed comedy, written by Richard Harris in 1979, has been performed by amateur theatrical companies constantly since its conception. (No doubt they recognise something of themselves.) It also spawned a superb multi-award winning TV series starring Brenda Blethyn, Josie Lawrence, and Timothy Spall, so this cast have a lot to live up to.
David North's comprehensive set - the edge of the cricket field and the inside of the pavilion - is well designed and constructed, a perfect backing for the (sometimes frenzied) action.
Roger (Robert Duncan), self-important and chauvinistic captain of the club treats his timid, mousy wife, Miriam (Sabina Franklyn) as a dogsbody, thinking an absentminded "love you" thrown in her general direction is enough to keep her happy. In fact all the men here are of the opinion that their women are there simply to serve them.
Bob (Craig Fairbrass) appears to be having an affair and is horrified when his wife Ginnie (Glenda McKay) turns up at the club. Alex (John Rose) brings his latest bimbo, Sharon (Claire Marlowe) to admire him on the field, and Dennis (Frazer Hines) flirts with everyone indiscriminately. Even little slob Kevin (Ian Swann), whose wife (tall, busty, sexy Maggie played deadpan and to great comic effect by Anita Graham) loves him to bits says "all I've ever asked of a woman is that she devotes her whole life to me". In fact, with her bricklaying and his cooking skills they are probably perfectly matched.
Eventually, discovering a long ago ‘naughty’ in Dorking, Miriam's patience snaps and she tells Roger just what she really thinks. Eventually all the women rebel - well can you blame them - to the astonishment of their partners (it just isn’t cricket) and the match ends with the ultimate catastrophe. Rain!
So - do the cast live up to their small-screen predecessors? Not quite - but overall it was an enjoyable evening with a lot of laughs, what more could you ask?
- Sheila Ann Connor (reviewed at the Capitol Theatre, Horsham)