reviewed by Lesley Reed
Guided by the experienced hands of director, Kym Clayton, St Jude’s Players’ production of Alan Ayckbourn’s play within a play, A Chorus of Disapproval, is simply hilarious.
The play is definitely not uppermost in the minds of the motley group of amateur actors who make up the Pendon Amateur Light Operatic Society. Instead, envy, infidelity and innuendo are just some of the issues besetting their production of John Gay’s 1728 opera, The Beggar’s Opera. Mix in a constant need for casting changes, an irresistibly attractive new actor, as well as a touch of corruption and you have a recipe for side-splitting laughs and bedlam.
Andrew Clark is superb as the opera society’s frenetic, proudly Welsh director, Dafydd Ap Llewellyn, a man who has an opinion about each of his actors but in reality notices nothing. James Spargo is excellent as Guy Jones, the young actor who is reluctantly dragged into almost as many affairs as he is into ever-changing roles in the opera. A fine singer, Spargo is also a good actor and displays naivety and bemusement as his character struggles to deal with the intrigue and lust seething under the surface of the opera society.
Another standout is Georgia Bolton as the jealous, rebellious teenager, Linda Washbrook. She embodies the role in her every expression and gesture and possesses a beautiful singing voice.
Bernadette Abberdan is delightful as enthusiastic Society member and Linda’s doting mum, Enid. Lindsay Dunn is wonderful as Enid’s husband and melodramatic actor, Ted. Megan Humphries produces nuanced and funny characterisation as the director’s vulnerable wife, Hannah Llewellyn.
Maxine Grubel and Anthony Clapp are terrific as the swinging couple and David Lockwood is equally good as Jarvis Huntley-Pike, a man who drifts in and out, seemingly oblivious to the goings- on as he draws people into a chat or two. Amongst the remaining strong cast, Anthony Vawser stands out in his role as Crispin Usher and has a fine singing voice.
Phil Rodda deserves a special mention for not only his performance as Mister Ames, but also as musical/choral director for St Jude’s production.
The clever set design works well on the small stage and lighting and costumes are generally good.
This is a production well worth seeing.