Farndale ladies really can-can do comedy

PUBLISHED: 11:43 24 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:26 17 June 2010

The indefatigable Farndale ladies returned to the Manor Pavilion stage courtesy of Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society to bring a bit of entente cordiale with a French farce Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue s il vous plait and the outcome was a couple of hours of mirth and mayhem

The indefatigable Farndale ladies returned to the Manor Pavilion stage courtesy of Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society to bring a bit of "entente cordiale" with a French farce Chase Me Up Farndale Avenue s'il vous plait and the outcome was a couple of hours of mirth and mayhem which kept the audience laughing from start to finish.

Innovative director Joan Heard and a strong SADS cast made the most of the anarchic humour of authors David McGillvray and Walter Zerlin as we witnessed many major and minor mishaps including missed cues, missed entrances, confusion over gender, collapsing scenery, dangerous props and marital infidelity in the lighting box.

Chris Hardy was in fine form as Mrs Reece, the bossy and enterprising lady chairman of the Farndale Avenue Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society, who played Mr and Mrs Carrott. Her excellent characterisation and "ad-libbing" caused much amusement as did her cookery demonstration.

She had the better of the leadership battles with quick-tempered, prima donna Thelma, played by Avril Best.

She provided plenty of "Oo la la" as tres saucy seductress Madame Charat - a real femme fatale! She provided good contrast as she portrayed Jack Garrett, the plumber, and his wife Nora.

Gavin Haines made a most welcome return with a pleasing performance as long-suffering manager Gordon, who played Mr Barrett and Mrs Parrott.

I particularly enjoyed seeing him making Mrs Reece into an occasional table and trying to hide her with a lampshade on her head. Sadly, Gordon's attempts at acting went sadly wrong.

The ever versatile Gillian Coley provided some delightful comic moments as the enthusiastic, well-meaning, but incompetent, young actress Felicity. Her antics as Fifi, the maid, with the Hoover were priceless and she also did a good job as Mrs Barrett and Jojo.

Celia Monck showed real stage presence as well as musical skill as pianist and Stage Manager Viv Bornet and her stage crew of Viv Rands, Alexa Baker, Heather Hodge and Helenka Shoesmith joined in a "can-can" finale.

Vive les dames de Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society and congratulations to Sidmouth Amateur Dramatic Society.

Roger Simmonds

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