Photo from Family Planning (L-R Damon Hill, Chris Galipo, Jayke Dolman)
Reviewed by Janice Bailey
The Tea Tree Players have a 40 year proud history of presenting entertaining live theatre to their loyal patrons. Their current offering, Family Planning is a delightful comedy written by Frank Vickery with well-delineated and relatable characters. The curtain opens to a 1980’s set consisting of a sitting room with stairs leading to Gran’s bedroom on the top floor. The set works very well used in conjunction with Mike Philips’s lighting design to move the action between Gran’s bedroom and the main sitting room.
Director Sam Creighton has done justice to a comedy which could, if the actors were not self-disciplined, cross the line into farce and lose a lot of the intended humour and pathos. He also makes his mark in the role of Jeffrey Millard, the hapless son of Maisie Millard. Jo Allenby as the bed-ridden Gran has the difficult job of being seen on stage throughout the whole play. Allenby delivers some memorable lines and doesn’t miss a beat in her character portrayal. Rhiannon Shapcott as the unexpectedly pregnant Tracy and Jayke Dolman as boyfriend, Bobby, are likeable as the pivotal characters around which the plot revolves. Karen Marks is suitably frazzled and sharp-tongued as the long-suffering mother and wife of Idris, the hapless hypochondriac, played with panache by Damon Hill. The chocolates must go to Chris Galipo as the frustrated Maisie Millard, whose goal is to seduce Idris, in spite of – or perhaps because of – his hypochondria. The gin swilling scene between Maisie , Idris and Bobby is hilarious.
The play moves along at a sparkling pace and apart from a few line slip-ups, no doubt due to opening night adrenalin, this is a highly entertaining production and well worth a look. The audience on opening night loved it and had a good laugh right from the opening scene.