Event review: Wife after Death by the Shirley Players, Friday 25th November

By - Wednesday 14th December, 2016

One of Croydon’s lesser known amateur dramatic groups provides an entertaining night out

Image public domain.

Eric Chappell’s play is set shortly after the death of a fictional popular comedian by the name of Dave Thursby. As last respects are paid, however, some unexpected truths emerge. The play was performed by the Shirley Players in Shirley Parish Hall on Friday 25th November.

We received a friendly greeting as our tickets were checked before passing into the spacious attractive auditorium where, before finding a seat, we were able to purchase a glass each of wine at reasonable price.

The play is comprised of just two acts. The first is set at the funeral and involves conversation between Dave’s scriptwriter Harvey Barrett and his wife Vi, Dave’s agent Kevin Prewitt, his wife June, the newly widowed Laura Thursby… and Dave’s rather unexpectedly present ex-wife, Kay.

Although entertaining and not short of laughs, this first act was a little pedestrian, but was enlivened by a superb performance by Sarah Block as Vi whose delivery. timing and wonder facial expressions are a delight. Also Jo Ridge proved the perfect choice for the role of Kay. At the interval free tea, coffee and biscuits were on offer, along with more wine for those who fancied another tipple. The second act involves the same characters and is set some weeks later with the scattering of the ashes to be attended to. In this act, the pace is up and a little visual humour complements the dialogue.

Bewilderment, anger and even some slapstick moments

John Maslen, whose appearance and style are reminiscent of the actor Nicholas Lindsay, really got into his role as Harvey. Sarah Block’s Vi was highly engaging not just when delivering dialogue but with some great expressions and body language while the other actors are speaking.

It’s in this act that widow Laura (played by Eden Harvey) comes to life with a great, and oft interrupted, monologue of revelations about the deceased. Bewilderment, anger and even some slapstick moments with the ashes result!

From a technical viewpoint, the play was script perfect with not a slip or stumble. Lighting and sound were unremarkable and therefore spot on. This was a competent performance from a hard working cast. I’d be pleased to sample future offerings.

Andy Ellis

Andy Ellis

Descendant of an old Devonshire family, Andy has spent over 25 years of his life in Croydon. He runs a small computer business, is a student at Seishin Ryu Aikido, helps to teach the Body Harmony community fitness classes held in several libraries across the town and, last but not least, dances with the Purley-based North Wood Morris Men.

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