Curtain up on the FDS production of Theft by Eric Chappell introduces the audience to a sitting room which is in a state of upheaval; the reason explained by John, the owner of the house, in some angry opening lines. Played by Mark Hollidge, John has returned home from an evening out with friends, to find his home has been burgled. His friend Trevor, FDS actor Chris Franks, who is wielding a golf club in case this premise does indeed turn out to be true.
Hollidge is becoming a master of accents. In this production he plays a self-made wealthy businessman with a ‘Sarf’ London twang who is naturally furious to find his home decimated as he explains to Trevor that everything of value appears to have been taken. However, he is boastful of the fact that the thieves have not discovered the secret safe hidden behind the bookshelf. Franks and Hollidge work well together producing an acting partnership which delights with every production in which they appear.
John disappears upstairs in a rather rash move to check if the perpetrators are still around and Jenny, Trevor’s wife, played by Holly Seijo, in yet another excellent performance, appears explaining to her husband that John’s wife Barbara is still outside apparently ‘asleep’ in the summerhouse. The play gains momentum as Trevor and Jenny go out to help Barbara and the lid of a large chest is slowly opened and a tall, long legged man emerges, rubbing his neck and back with a pained expression on his face.
The trio from outside reappear and the ‘euphemism’ for Barbara having fallen asleep becomes clear. Barbara, the talented Sue Williams, is obviously drunk. Lurching across the stage in a glamorous red velvet number, Barbara by sheer force of personality, and not a little of this owned to alcohol, takes centre stage leaving this member of the audience wondering how much fun Sue had in preparing for the role.
With the return of John now brandishing a gun the whole cast assemble and Chappell’s script comes to life. The two couples have been friends for years but are not the happily marrieds that were at first thought. Nor are they the close and loyal friends that appear on the surface with Trevor envious of John’s wealth and without the knowledge that there might be more to the relationship between his wife Jenny and John. Barbara meantime is giving her drunken all, attacking everyone verbally.
But who is the man who has emerged so painfully from the chest? He claims to be a police inspector who is investigating the burglary despite the fact that the house phone line has been cut and, this being 1996 with a shortage of mobile phones, it is becoming apparent that a question arises about how the police could have been alerted.
As with most comedy dramas, a somewhat farcical tone now takes over. The ‘policeman’ is of course one of the burglars. Finally admitting his name is Spriggs he enters into a cat and mouse situation being responsible for bringing to light many of the foursome’s failing partnerships. He is played by Nick Abbott, an engaging actor who handles the comedy well, remains on stage for most of the play with a wealth of lines.
There are many twists and turns to the play before the final curtain falls and the two couples find out a lot more about each other than they had ever known before.
Chosen and directed by Nicola Hollow, and backed by a group of hard-working FDS members, village audiences were again treated to well-run performances with a cast of talented actors. Thank you FDS for brightening up our October evenings.
Originally printed in The Farnborough Village Parish Magazine