Perfect farce for Sidmouth’s summer season

Charles Vance’s Sidmouth season strikes gold with Ayckbourn farce

GENIUS. No other word can described Alan Ayckbourn’s Taking Steps, which returns to the Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth, tomorrow (Saturday, August 6) until Wednesday.

Self-acknowledged as one of his farces, the very fact the set shows the hall, lounge, bedroom and attic of the same house on the stage at the same time, was bound to create laughter, writes Di Bowerman.

And that’s just what the first night audience did – laugh at the improbability of the situations that arose at The Pines, a dilapidated, allegedly haunted home - for most of the performance.

Popular actor James Pellow was businessman Roland, married to the flamboyant former dancer Elizabeth, (Laura James), who is set on leaving him.

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James made the most of his scotch-swilling character, giving a polished performance as usual, and devotees of Charles Vance seasons will be pleased to hear he is joining the company for the rest of this year’s 25th anniversary run.

All Elizabeth wants is her freedom and Laura revels in the character of the frustrated dancer - limbering up, pointing toes, and, when the need arises, using her muscular thighs for a spot of neck clamping.

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“It’s like sleeping next to a racehorse,” Roland says of the smelly leg embrocation she uses.

As with most farces there is a case of mistaken identity, muddled notes and unexplained bumps in the night.

These involves Tristram, (Christopher Mark), sent by Roland’s solicitor to witness the sale of The Pines and the two other ‘love-birds’ Kitty, (Katy Withers) and Mark, Elizabeth’s brother, played by Jason Marc-Williams.

Sixth member of the cast, but by no means least, was Sam Child as Les, the hapless builder hoping for a sale on his late father’s property and a commission from Roland to do it up.

What fun the cast had in running around the stage, climbing the (imaginary) spiral staircase to the attic numerous times and generally causing mayhem.

It was hilarious and all down to perfect timing, great acting, inspired set and of course, a masterly Ayckbourn script.

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