An Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Drama Group
Breakaleg Productions are putting on I’ll Get My Man this week, a real old fashioned turkey from the pen of Philip King. I have appeared in a fair few Philip King plays over the years and this was typical of the gendre. Now I love a really good farce but this was even too dated for me. That is not to say the play wasn’t entertaining and well presented, it was, and there were some really good performances from the Breakaleg cast in particular from Mike Varnom playing the hapless Rev Humphrey.
Anyone knowing the Unicorn stage will know its shortcomings, but Bruce Scott had made the most of the limitations and produced a really good set depicting the inside of the Stebbington-Fawley vicarage.
Gold stars also go to Oenone Grant for her part as the man-hunting Winifred Barrington-Locke and Tracy Leiper who took over the role as the housekeeper/cook only three weeks prior to the opening night. Man of the play (as it were) for me however went to Julie Kedward for her portrayal of the dippy Josephine de Brissac, excellent.
by By Am Dram Man
I had a thoroughly entertaining evening at the Unicorn on Wednesday, the opening night of I’ll Get My Man, by BreakaLeg Productions.
I have to declare prejudice right away as I would go to see Mike Varnom in anything. He is a delight to watch. His sense of fun and complete immersion in any part he takes on are a joy, and the confidence of the cast is strengthened when he is on stage. His interpretation of the Rev was wonderfully bumbly and the performance was solidly consistent.
Many of the artists are seasoned BreakaLeg Players and work well together bringing to the stage confident performances. Jenny Shepherd as Miss Harriet Humphrey came in to gear in the second half where her performance visibly lifted to great comic effect. Oenone Grant as Mrs Winifred Barrington-Locke was a well-judged performance, fearsome and terribly funny.
Not wishing to spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet, the entrance of Peter (Venture Man) Graham played by Mark Wilkin was a hoot – as the young people would say lol. He had a nice flirty relationship with Miss Carter which developed well but I personally felt it was a bit touchy feely. I’m not sure they would be so overtly friendly, despite Mrs Carter being a feisty character.
Tracy Leiper stepped in as Mrs Carter only a few weeks ago when a cast member withdrew due to illness but I couldn’t see the seam at all. She was a strong member of a strong cast and full points to her that she got such a wordy part under her belt in such a short time. She had a lovely light, playful attitude on stage which was charming.
Deborah Williams once again transforms herself into a busty dolly bird, this time a young pop singer. She was super as the spoilt young starlet who has toddler tantrums if she doesn’t get her way. Great song too. (Although again Mike Varnom manages to steal this later on.)
Mike Davies gave a good performance as The Bishop of Lax but I felt he could be more pompous and detached when he first comes on to allow for the shift when he meets an old flame. Good to see Mike taking on larger parts though.
Peter Bradley is also in charge of Sound and Effects on the technical side so when he pops in as the Photographer, he’s also running the desk in the wings. I don’t know how he does it.
Josephine de Brissac, Julie Kedward. At risk of gushing again (see Mike Varnom) I really love watching Julie and have seen her in quite a few things now (fond memories of her lovely performance as Maisie May in Too Long an Autumn). As a vamp she was wonderfully suggestive, scaring witless any potential prey… sorry… suiters. Undeterred she locked in to her target with lazer sharp focus. I particularly liked the subtlety when not observed by her oppositive number, she allowed the audience to see how hard she was having to work to get any attention from these wet lettuces: momentarily engaging with us before again batting her Bambi lashes at her man. Super performance – especially loved her dancing with Venture Man.
Bruce Scott on design came up with a good practical set which was interesting to look at and well thought through. A tiny thing but I found the red tape marks for the table at the start became distracting once the table was moved (which was quite early on) and as it’s never replaced, I’m sure this could be marked more subtly. The difficulty with the doors to the ‘garden’ will be addressed with more careful entrances and exits by the cast. I know space is terribly tight on stage at the Unicorn and so again, testament to Bruce’s experience and skill that he should fit so much into a small space without it feeling cramped or that anything’s been compromised. Lighting was consistently good as was wardrobe and sound. Front of house, professional and friendly.
The occasional stumble on words was surprising as I know the company worked hard to be off book very early in the rehearsal stage and caused a few teeny wibbles in the flow. Nerves, opening night, some members of the cast and production have terrific colds too but any hiccups were quickly overcome. Credit to Judith Hosking as prompt.
I do hope the cast and production team enjoy the run. They should be very proud to be a part of such a polished, considered and funny production. I look forward to the next one…
Oh yes, while we’re still declaring interests… my Mum’s the director… well done Mum. Great show! I’m very, very proud of you. Imagine if I had to write this and it was awful… phew!