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- Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 10:12
- Published on Sunday, 12 August 2012 16:00
- Written by Dulverton Town Council
Welcome to the Dulverton Players
There’s always plenty going on at the Dulverton Players, Exmoor’s popular theatre company. Whether you fancy acting, helping behind the scenes, or just coming to see one of our sell-out shows, you will receive a warm and friendly welcome.
Nick Wilkes comedy ‘Disconnected" Played 30th April to 3th May 2014 - another great success !!!!!
The Dulverton Players have unearthed more local talent for their latest production performed over four nights last week. Ryun Smallbone, engaging, humorous, and fluent, took the lead in Nick Wilkes comedy ‘Disconnected’. Ryun played the bemused townie telephone engineer sent to disconnect an old-fashioned red telephone box. This weighty box , of which they had a replica on the Town Hall stage, is set on St Peters, a thinly disguised Isles of Scilly. The islanders, to Ryun, seem a bit ‘disconnected’ themselves from his urban reality. Just like Exmoor folk, the islanders of course know exactly what's going on, are savvy and ready to take this overconfident intruder for a very satisfying ride. Rural subtlety versus urban cockiness. Country folk mocking urbanites is bound to go down well here.
There is only one boat to the island every four days, but a telephone box only takes a few hours to disconnect - and the islanders don't want to lose it! Why? Because they've been working a very smart party line scam through the public phone, thereby not paying for any of their calls. They also use the box for a few other purposes, such as greenhouse, chicken coop and community notice board. Outraged, Ryun summons the local police support officer who just happens to also be the vicar, the baker, the barman, and the bin man. Not many people inhabit this small rock in the Atlantic. Simon Bartlett played each role with what Dulverton now expects of this consummate comedian, who times his punchlines, facial expressions and different character parts with an ease some professionals would value.
It is the play's amateur debut. Penned by the Malvern Bard, Nick Wilkes, who attended the opening night, it has only been in the hands of professionals to date. It is what we used to call a potboiler, an inconsequential but amusing romp with a couple of subplots you needed to be rural - or island savvy - to quite get, though not lost on Dulverton's theatre-goers, however.
'Disconnected' would make a good radio play, but then Dulverton's loyal supporters would have missed out on an excellent set – a village off-licence/coffee shop/B&B on one side of the stage, an open seascape the other, and the delinquent red phone box on the grass at the front. All this has been put together by the town's strong backstage team of Christine Dubery, Steve Hall, Simon Williams, Mark Wright, Debbie Passmore, Jean Verrall, Louise Parish and Debbie Wright.
Ryun Smallbone's only previous theatrical experience was as a policeman in a pantomime. To leap from this into one of the largest roles in repertory, and to do it with power, ease and grace, is truly admirable.
In one scene from inside the box Ryun imitated an Asian call centre, getting the greatest laugh of the night. And in another he emerged, having entered dressed in a boiler suit, as Superman, complete with perfectly puffed chest, ready for the Annual Vernal Equinox (Spring to You and Me) Wheelbarrow Race.
After their Calendar Girls success it seems the Players can't resist getting their kit off! The play opened with Players stalwart and regular, Charlie Blanning, stripping down to his Union Jack underwear ready to open his B and B for an eagerly awaited female guest. Charlie played this crafty hotelier-cum-postmaster with impish mischief and fake dimwit cunning. That is until the last scene when he held the audience spellbound for a lengthy soliloquy, which deserved a better punchline.
One of those Calendar Girls also made her debut as Director. Claire Govier had a tough baptism, with actors having to drop out through illness and other last-minute changes. With that amdram sturdiness which the Dulverton Players characterise it was 'all right on the night'. Now we await their reprise of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ in November (Auditions July 13), as well as a Murder Mystery in the Church on September 13th.
Nobody on this island seems to be quite married, and it is not always clear, in the best Whitehall farce tradition, who belongs to who. Certainly desirable are the two pieces of eye candy who pop in and out disrupting the boy's plans and taking Ryun for the eyes-shut incomer that he is. Gwenda Bassett, in her first significant role, played with stately aplomb, manages to sell him some paper bags he doesn't need. Then Suzy Wall, who wriggles and flirts her way with glee all over him, has Ryun eating healthy food, tidying his rubbish, and generally adopting ‘island life’ by the end. Hers and Ryun's chemistry worked well. These two female parts should be in enlarged in any rewrite.
It is a difficult play for a small cost, almost 2 1/2 hours long in two acts, with the three male leads onstage most of the time and much of the script requiring quickfire repartee. Certainly none of these five actors failed as did Jamaica Inn on television recently – we could hear every syllable of their lines, and catch every facial expression, thanks to excellent lighting.
The Vodafone/Orange/02 reception jokes wear a bit thin after a while. Entries and exits might have been a bit slicker; even the casual shuffling slow entries needed a bit more ‘acting’. It's the sort of comedy that calls for laughter to be written into every movement. However, given the obstacles encountered during production - with serious consideration given to abandoning it 3 weeks before - the Players and their audience can rest assured that their enormous efforts paid off, producing an amusing show from a play script that needs pruning for future amateur groups. Characteristically, the Players have offered to help the author with that process!