Laughter at the Bedside

Bedside Manners - Charles Vance Summer Play Festival - Manor Pavilion There were lashings of laughter and hearty helpings of humour on the menu at the Manor Pavilion Theatre

Bedside Manners - Charles Vance Summer Play Festival - Manor Pavilion

There were lashings of laughter and hearty helpings of humour on the menu at the Manor Pavilion Theatre as regulars and holidaymakers alike revelled in Derek Benfield's hotel farce Bedside Manners, brilliantly performed by a West End standard Charles Vance Summer Play Festival cast under the direction of Imogen Vance.

Another remarkable set by Rob Sherwood cleverly depicted a reception room and two bedrooms in a small, unfashionable hotel somewhere in the depths of the countryside.

Ferris is looking after his sister's seedy hotel where two young couples are the only guests. Roger has arranged an assignation with Sally, leaving his wife at home, but Helen has read the same advert for the hotel in the Parish Magazine and has made plans for a naughty weekend there with Sally's husband, Geoff. The mischievous Ferris discovers their guilty secrets and tries (at some financial reward to himself) to prevent the inevitable meeting of husbands, wives and lovers in assorted, hilarious, compromising situations.

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That virtuoso of comedy, James Pellow, had the audience eating out of his hand as the colourful character Ferris, complete with pink jumper and distinctive laugh. His willingness to improvise in return for bribes and his amusement at the embarrassment of the guilty parties made for some choice moments. No wonder he is held in such high esteem by Manor Pavilion audiences. As the central character, he kept us chuckling throughout this riotous comedy.

Two highly talented young actors, David Sengupta and Matt Crosby, gave extremely good performances as the young, upwardly mobile business man Roger, who immediately ordered champagne for his eagerly awaited lover, and the more ordinary, down to earth Geoff. They were always believable but highly amusing as we watched their predicaments and their desperate efforts to conceal their secrets, involving them in frantic action, including climbing along the ledge between bedrooms with and without trousers.

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The "Wow" factor was provided by Ami Solomons who caused gasps on her first entrance as the glamorous and seductive Sally. This was a captivating performance with the audience loving the moment this voluptuous young lady had difficulty retrieving the key secreted in her clothing.

There was a warm and joyful relationship between the excellent cast and the adoring audience for this fast-paced, fun-filled farce on Friday night, which made for "summer Rep" at its best.

The good news is that there are still four performances of Bedside Manners still to come, starting Saturday, August 9 and running until Wednesday, August 13. I can't wait to see it again.

Roger Simmonds

l The Charles Vance Summer Play Festival continues with different plays every week until September 30.

For more information telephone the box office at the Manor Pavilion, Sidmouth on (01395) 579977.

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