Little Waltham Drama Group: OUTSIDE EDGE by Richard Harris

 

Visited on April 10, 1987

 

I was glad to visit this group to see them in a straight play having first met them in their own home-grown musical. I wish it could have been a better play Richard Harris is an efficient dramatist and, at times, extremely ingenious (one of his pieces utilises a single set for three different families in the same play but this is not, I think, one of his better efforts; OUTSIDE EDGE has coasted to fame largely through a truly remarkable performance by Maureen Lipman in the London production. Maggie is a truly original creation, one in a long line of comic characters which have become in many ways more famous than the plays in which they occur (e.g. Madame Arcati in BLITHE SPIRIT, Poland Maule in PRESENT LAUGHTER, Julian in THE PUBLICEYEand lots more) in many cases these oddities inhabit good plays but, in my view, Maggie doesn't.OUTSIDE 'EDGE; purports to be about cricket - in fact, this is just the setting, as you will all have discovered , and it is actually about the relationship between the sexes; any common interest which brought together a relatively disparate bunch of people would do as well( a dramatic society, for example : my main unhappiness is that there is little character development throughout....apart from the long suffering Miriarn discovering about Dorking, everyone's relationships are virtually unchanged .... Bob and Ginnie may just possibly have a better future but even this is very problematic. however, letís not carp too much about the piece .... it has one or two memorable lines and provides a jolly. evening out if you don't ask too much. of it. Let's see how you coped.

 

TECHNICALITIES.. SET LIGHTING PROPS ETC ETC

 

This really extremely difficult stage and you are forced to perform minor miracles to get anything as complicated as a complete cricket pavilion with serving hatches, telephone J; 'hoods', score boards, ladders , hoses etc etc on to it. You achieved all this remarkably well and used entrances through the auditorium as in the previous show I saw. I wonder if you have ever considered putting part (or all) of the acting area on to the floor of the hall and having a little more room for actors to breathe in? Worth a thought if you wish to do a play which just won't fit onto your stage. You must also try and acquire a scene painter who can perform the same: kind of miracles that your scene builders do...'brick' wall paper is never very helpful....it tends to draw attention to itself and make one aware that this is all a giant make-believe. Props were very good....nicely cluttered stage and everything that was needed for the action was there. Lighting was perfectly adequate bearing in, mind the equipment you had available; costume and make-up well selected... .particularly the hysterical ensemble which Sharon affected. I would have liked a rather more eye-catching coat for Maggie but otherwise , fine. The taped sound effects were not terribly convincing have seen this play many times and I have yet to hear a good tape... even in London it was poor. On the other hand the storm effects were excellent.

 

 

PRODUCTION In general this was efficient without being outstandingly good. The actors moved around as well as possible in such restricted acting space and the grouping was usually competent and helpful to the play except on one or two occasions (e.g. in Act 2 when Dennis and Kev were downstage of Mim and Roger more or less totally obscuring them for a longish period). ~There the producer failed, however, was in getting the piece moving at a reasonable pace; often things were much too slow (even for a cricket match t ) and the audience was given much too much time to think

 

 

Maggie A very good performance indeed. I suspect that it is almost impossible to fail in this part but it is equally extremely difficult to mare the creature real and believable. The actress succeeded in this and, coupled with excellent projection, scored heavily with the audience. She managed this without being very much bigger in stature than Kevin (it obviously helps if Maggie towers over

her husband) and generally this was a very satisfying performance which managed the farcical elements of the play whilst at the same time keeping everything under control and not turning it into out-and-out slapstick. Her team work with Kevin was excellent and I shall remember this combination for a long time. Dennis A neat little performance this...particularly after his dismissal in the match...he would have gained if he had used some of this 'attack' in his other sections. He definitely improved as the evening went on. Alex Does not have the opportunities of some of the other characters but did well enough.... more projection would have helped. He seemed a little young to be a successful solicitor, but youth will have its -v-ray I Ginny Perhaps not quite acid enough for the part but played well within herself and moved very well. She relaxed into the part as the evening went on....she has not so great an impact as some of the other characters but she kept her end up. Sharon A strange, little part this, the actress made quite a lot of it.... needed more projection she did well in her incarceration in the 'ladies' but I would have limed her to hit Alex more positively ! She looked absolutely right.

 

A11 in all, a jolly evening.. . .may I mention how much the programme had improved since I last visited.... plenty to read ....and also how much I appreciated the really solid doors on the set. I would like to see the-company in a better play and be a little more adventurous in their staging.

 

I must also apologise for the long delay in sending this report... I drafted it shortly after the show but have only just managed to get around to typing it up. I can assure everyone that it has been discussed at great length with Rosanne Kirkpatrick, (the 'over-all' adjudicator) and my recommendations have been approved by her.

Harlow, June 1987