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A write-up by Sam Peates
The WADs Autumn Production, ‘The WI Blues’, written by John Peel was something of a departure from the normal repertoire for this well-established and prolific society.
Plays for all-women casts are hard to come by but, as in this case, the choice of play can be dictated by acting availability. Terry Sopp and Patrick Thomas had their work cut out to bring this dialogue-rich and demanding play to the stage. They were indeed fortunate to have five actors capable of learning and delivering all that dialogue in a credible way. The play itself has something of an identity crisis, a mixture of comedy and farce with strong undertones of deep anxiety and pathos.
All of the action takes place in the drawing room of Grace, the leading light in the local WI, who is hosting a meeting of her supporters to head-off a threat to the society from ‘the wrong people in the village’. As it turns out, the WI theme is simply a plot device to bring the characters together to reveal their individual mid-life crises. Heather Simpson, one of the society’s most accomplished performers, was in fine Hyacinth Bucket form as the overbearing and haughty Grace. Was she having a fling with her double-glazing salesman, hinted at by the regular ‘wrong numbers? Had her husband gone out for the evening or for good?
The scatty and dowdy farmer’s wife, Fiona, played beautifully by Helen Coyne, supplied much of the comedy with some slapstick moments of inebriation and a pass-the-parcel game, which she was determined to win. Helen Coyne portrayed with great sensitivity the underlying heartache of a betrayed wife.
The third character, the totally insouciant, narcissist Jane, flamboyant, promiscuous and vacuous, provided good material for a strong performance by Natalia Ruiz-Moreno.
Gillian Fowmes played Pippa, wife of an ex-footballer and herself from an aristocratic background. Somehow the lines given to Pippa seemed a mismatch with the supposed background of the character, but that was the fault of the author, and Gillian delivered her lines confidently and clearly.
The final character, Hazel, played competently by Susan Clark, awaits an important phone call about a serious medical condition.
A ‘blip’ on the night meant we never got to find out what was wrong with Hazel.
As usual with the WADs, all the technical off-stage work was to a high standard, with the challenging sound effects well-orchestrated by John Worsfold and Marcia Spiers.
As ever, an appreciative audience went home happy!
Join us on 17, 18 or 19 November 2022 at 7.45 pm (Doors open at 7.00 p.m)
Please note that the Friday performance on the 18th is already sold out!
The W.I. Blues
Bookings: Box Office Online
via Phone 07956 136 750
Concessions are £8 for over 60s.
Tickets are £10 for everyone else.
Children over 14 only. Under 18’s accompanied by an adult
See our mini gallery for the show