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Desperate to be Doris (tour – Bury St Edmunds)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Three people only are on the stage but there’s a positive multitude of characters for us to meet. LipService’s latest venture is – in theory – about a dull man in an even duller job and the all-too-familiar people he encounters at work and after-hours. These are all played by Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, swirling themselves in and out of a welter of hat, wig and full costume changes. Darren Southworth is Dean and Mark Whitelaw’s direction incorporates a singing and dancing local chorus; that’s a canny wheeze for any company wishing to maximise its box office.

I would have liked to enjoy it more than I managed. The Doris Day numbers are all familiar and well-loved ones and the humour is sufficiently quirky. You can’t fault the three players, designer Foxton does much with screens, curtains and some very ingenious props and the well-drilled chorus copes admirably with a brace of show-stopping numbers – so why doesn’t it quite come off, if the staging and performances are so good?

One answer might be that we’ve all seen shows about amateur operatic & dramatic productions as well as ones about office upheavals many times before. You know that the pushy new company director is going to get her comeuppance and that the sad little office sparrow will develop a star-dusted plumage – but those are conventions we accept. They’re familiar, so perhaps we need them to be skated over a little more quickly, so that there’s no chance to murmur “Ah yes. I see where this is going” instead of actually reaching that destination.


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