Scholes Players face timeless farce

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A timeless farce, complete with black underwear, from Scholes Village Players.

Reviews of amateur theatre usually focus on the cast’s performance, leaving those working backstage, or behind a sound and lighting desk at the back of the hall, without so much as a mention.

How unkind that would be to those members and friends of Scholes Village Players who made a great contribution to the success of their latest production, Ray Cooney’s timeless political farce ‘Out of Order.’

The excellent set, which took stage manager Peter Nelson and many other volunteers four days to build, would not have looked out of place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

It had to work, too, with a large sash window which, important to the story, needed opening many times - only to crash down again without warning.

As with any farce, phones had to ring, radios to broadcast and other sound and lighting effects had to be bang on cue, a challenge admirably met by Jim Clements.

Cast members faced challenges too. None more so than Merf Adamson, who displayed considerable acting skill by not moving a muscle, nor speaking one word, during the whole of the first act. Pretending to be dead in front of a live audience for almost an hour is not easy.

At first he was wedged, apparently lifeless, in the sash window. It had fallen upon him when in his role as a private detective he tried to enter the hotel room of a government minister.

He was also dragged around the stage like a sad Guy Fawkes, with floppy arms and legs, though he spent much of the time ‘hanging’ behind a cupboard door!

His services had been retained by a suspicious and angry husband, robustly played by Paul Brownridge, whose wife, an aide to the Leader of the Opposition, had to spend most of the first half wearing little more than saucy black underwear.

Kath Clements gave a bravura performance in what a Tyke would call ‘nowt but her smalls.’

Ash Land, playing the politician who preferred a dalliance in a hotel room to a Commons alliance with the Prime Minister, was barely off stage. His ability to memorise countless lines, coupled with his confident performance, were commendable.

Alan Moule, known for playing cameo roles with distinction at Scholes, drew as much laughter as he could from his portrayal of a tip-hungry waiter, as did Richard Moule, playing a frightfully camp hotel manager with a glimpse of pink underpants.

Joan Fox, who produced and directed the comedy with her customary aplomb, also made brief appearances as a Spanish room maid.

Nick Moule, yes, another one, played the minister’s intimidated private secretary very capably, while Pam Taylor and Charley Ashe gave sound performances as, respectively, the politician’s improper wife and as a very naughty nurse.