Players hit the jolly jackpot

St Ambrose Players presentPools Paradise

Friday, 15th August 2014, 3:30 pm
Pools Paradise: Leylands St Ambrose Players
Pools Paradise: Leylands St Ambrose Players

This talented group celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and this farce, written by Philip King, is one of its four annual productions.

The set construction team have done a splendid job of creating the panelled living room of the Merton-cum-Middlewick vicarage, complete with stairway, ‘living’ fire and the inevitable five doors that are deemed necessary for the coming and goings of farces.

Alison Griffiths-Barnes confidently plays Penelope - the long-suffering wife of Rev Lionel Toop (John Sangster) , who is dead set against gambling in any form.

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So Penelope has to keep secret the fact that she has been doing the football pools in cahoots with scatty Ida, her maid (Kerry Chippendale), and her dopey boyfriend, Willie Briggs (Connor Taylor).

The hilarity begins when they think they might have ‘come up’ with eight draws.

Their copy has disappeared. Cue Rev Humphrey (Matthew Clark) with his own copy and, in true farcical tradition, the two get mixed up and passed around before eventually getting back to their true owners.

In the midst of all this there is Miss Skillon, spinster of this parish, wittily played by Jean Hutchinson, who has a crush on the vicar. Oh – and the vicar has lost his trousers!

Bishop Lax (Tom Lane) visits Penelope, his niece, and ends up checking the pools with the News of the World; choirboys (Mikey Coleman and Ben Coombes) have brief appearances running around the set.

The cast did their best with this dated and, at times, frustrating script. It could well have been written in two acts rather than three.

It probably stood up very well when it was first written in the ’50s, but doesn’t match up to its prequel, See How They Run, which is hilarious.

A jolly evening out if you can catch it before Saturday.

Jenny Robson