The W.I. Blues4 October 2022
The Amateur Killer (a Murder Thriller) by Robert Scott24 July 2023
For more years than most of us care to remember, the Woodcote Amateur Dramatic Society has entertained us on a regular basis, but seldom, if ever, have they exceeded the entertainment value they provided in bringing to the stage, ‘Checkout Girls’, a comedy by Jean Roche. It was an inspired choice of play for the society by Producers, Patrick Thomas and John Worsfold, which enabled some accomplished actors to show the range of their talents and, most significantly, provided the audience with endless opportunities for laughter.
The play tells the story of the women who work in the local supermarket somewhere in the north of England. As the supermarket prepares to host a singles night, the girls and odd job man divulge their tangled relationships, which are, of course, resolved to everyone’s perfect satisfaction in the end.
Shelly, the timid checkout girl was played with real sensitivity by Gillian Fowmes and it was an added bonus that the part enabled her to reveal her undoubted singing talents. Shelly’s mum, whose agoraphobia stemmed from the depth of her mourning for a husband, lost early without the opportunity for a final farewell. This was the perfect part for Elizabeth Thomas. Her duet with Gillian was one of the evening’s highlights.
Natalia Ruiz-Moreno and Helen Coyne were born to play the sassy, irreverent Shaz and Maz and they played it for all they were worth and with excellent timing. Tammy was the frumpy, addicted to eating, fourth checkout girl, and the fragility of her character, beneath a bold exterior, was well-observed by Susan Clark.
Marcia Spiers gave an energetic performance as Sylvia, the shop Supervisor, a nagging, but motherly character, who harboured secret desires for Malcolm, the maintenance man, an avuncular character, whose influence exceeded his status. This part was a good vehicle for the versatile Terry Sopp.
Throughout the play, the interventions of Mr Worley the shop manager, over the tannoy, provided some of the best comedy moments. James Peedell had this character off to a tee and was particularly funny depicting Worley the worse for drink.
Comedy is often enhanced when contrasted with images of real pathos and one such was the scene in which Pam is, at last, re-united with the ghost of her long-lost husband. The slow dance with John Worsfold, in the walk-on part of the ghost, brought spontaneous applause from the audience. This was central to the plot as it enabled Pam to overcome her agoraphobia to attend the singles night to hear Shelly sing.
It was really good to see a well-designed and constructed supermarket set designed by Sandra Evans and the Producers did really well to create the side-sets on the apron-stage and the floor. The costumes added to the credibility of the whole piece. The lighting (Dan Scott) and sound (James Peedell) were both very effective.
It is important for a dramatic society to know their audience and the WADS are highly accomplished in this. Give the audience some good, well-known musical content, which they did with the choral numbers and then send them home happy with a singalong at the end, which they also did.
The WADS are a local treasure and the three full-houses pay full testament to that!