Sunday, 24 October 2010

Rebecca In The Scout Hut


It was much as expected. A full house (we don't get much in the way of entertainment on the estate since Fiery Dave and his souped-up wheel-spinning Subaru moved, thanks to the petition and umpteen Asbos, to East Kilbride), uncomfortable chairs pinched from the Mixed Infants, intermittent lighting, and a biting wind through the window that never got mended after the Brownies had a bit of a fracas during last Easter's performance of Riverdance. Still, we were all there, in the scout hut, more in hope than expectation (as always) and we weren't disappointed.

The am-drammers had copped out (in my opinion) on the settings and used the backdrops from last year's panto (Jack and the Beanstalk). Therefore, Manderley (interior and exterior) was the giant's castle, the South of France was the market square minus The Village Children but sadly still plus the painted-on cow, and the Gothic atmosphere (such as it was) was provided by the lights being turned on and off very quickly backstage. Well, until the moment they all fused, then - until they were fixed - it was down to three people with torches aided by several rows of the audience who, remembering that ill-fated coach trip to see Barry Manilow at Blenheim Palace, held their lighters aloft.

Avis from the Co-op was The Second Mrs de Winter. As Avis is 53 and - given her build and incipient moustache - had been the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk, she wasn't that convincing as a frail and nervous child-bride, but her twin-set and tweed skirt were lovely. It was slightly disturbing that Maxim was played by Larry the postman. Now, there's nothing wrong with Larry and he can act his socks off when he puts his mind to it, but Avis is his mum - so you see the problem. We all tried to suspend disbelief and any squeamishness, but it tested even the most ardent theatre-goer at times.

The am-drammers are a small group, therefore there was the usual doubling-up of roles. Mrs Danvers (played with terrifying authenticity by the vicar's wife, leading us to discuss in the intermission - egg sandwiches with concrete crusts and polystyrene beakers of tepid tea - just exactly what home-life was like in the vicarage) was also Bee and, after lots of muttering and rustling and quick-changes of jacket/hat/beard in the wings, Sid Newman from the garden centre became Jack Favell,Frank Crawley, Frith and Giles. Any scenes that involved more than one of these characters were relegated to off-stage conversations aided and abetted by Gorgeous George (a nickname given with full rustic irony) from the garage who was the narrator. A narrator, we all felt, was essential, given the gaping gaps in the script.

Jasper (Avis's elderly Jack Russell was substituted for the springer spaniel of the original) made several impromptu appearances. Usually when he wasn't required. And eventually he went to sleep in the middle of the stage, snoring loudly, and no-one could shift him so everyone just stepped round him. Except Avis during one of her most wither-wringing scenes when she tripped over him and uttered a line of such eye-watering profanity that Dame Daphne must have groaned in her grave.

We were all, it must be said, really waiting for the burning of Manderley. It was well worth the wait. As we held our collective breath in a frenzy of anticipation, noises-off provided, by way of Gorgeous George rustling aluminium foil and blowing-across-the-tops-of-bottles (we could see this operation taking place so it did somewhat dilute the artistic tension), a lot of crackling and roaring, followed by the smoke machine, which was fairly impressive. I say only fairly as unfortunately the copious billows of thick grey vapour were caught in the draught from the Brownies broken window and rolled, like a Victorian pea-souper, away from Manderley/Giant's Castle and the stage generally and wafted across the audience. As the first four rows disappeared in the murk, everyone nostalgically agreed that it was just like being in the snug of the Weasel and Bucket before the smoking ban. Happy days!

Once the fog had cleared and someone had woken Jasper, and the vicar's wife (aka Mrs Danvers at that point) had stopped screaming, the am-drammers took their bows and got three curtain-calls (there weren't any curtains but you get the idea). Then we all tidied our chairs and beakers away, and as we filed outside into night the general consensus was that Rebecca in the Scout Hut had been a resounding success.

Their next production will be the Christmas panto of course (Goldilocks this year - we're all assuming Avis will be taking the title role and stretching the imagination even further and that possibly all three bears will be played by Larry) and then, frighteningly, they're going to be tackling Ben Hur.

I will be reviewing it here. Maybe...

24 comments:

Karen said...

Oh my God, I just choked on my tea at the visual of Avis, in tweed, as Mrs de Winter, being wooed by her son!!!!!!!!

Hi-larious. There are are often am-dram productions advertised round here - the latest is in a nearby converted barn and is called 'Murder in Little Grimley' - and I absolutely must go and see one sometime.

It's given me an idea for a story actually ...

Christina Jones said...

Karen - you HAVE to go to see Murder in Little Grimley or the next production whatever it is. You just HAVE to. You'll never be the same again. And so glad it's given you an idea for a story... wish I had one of those - sigh... Cx

Bub said...

Avis being wooed by her son, Larry?

That's just wrong.

Very wrong.

Eww.

Debs said...

That was so hilarious! I really must make a mental note not to sneakily read your brilliant posts whilst at work.

Thankfully, I was saved when my Manager made a joke and everyone thought I was laughing at him, albeit a tab maniacally for what he'd said.

ptasia said...

Oh, wow. Did this really & truly happen? How did you manage not to die of laughter :)? I see now where you got ideas for the Upton Poges Am-dram group.

Suzanne Jones said...

This is hilarious - but I can't help thinking you should have saved it for a book (although, I'm glad you didn't).

XX

Cheryl said...

Hi I came over from Debs Daydreams in the Shed and she's right hilarious! Will stay and read-on with interest.

Jan Jones said...

Oh, Chris. Oh, Chris. Oh heck, I'll be back later when I've stopped laughing enough to type coherently.

Phillipa said...

Chris - you HAVE to be makign this up. You just have to be. It can't be real... but I fear it is, all, horribly, terribly real...

Thank you for the biggest laugh of the week so far!

alzamina said...

love it...we had some ace am dram up here recently - all done outside at Thornton Abbey

missed being on here, still unpacking after my house move!

Christina Jones said...

Bub - it was ALL very, very wrong, believe me! Cx

Christina Jones said...

Debs - thank you for laughing - although possibly not at the best time.... Cx

Christina Jones said...

ptasia - yes, honestly - it's all true, and yes I used our local am dram group in Running the Risk - many moons ago! Such a great source of - um - inspiration...? Cx

Christina Jones said...

Suzanne - thank you, and it'll probably find its way into a book in some sort of disguise before too long - too good to waste??? Cx

Christina Jones said...

Cheryl - lovely to see you here - and thank you! Hope you enjoy visiting Buclic Frolics. Cx

Christina Jones said...

Jan - ta muchly for chuckling! Cx

Christina Jones said...

Phillipa - yep, all horribly, awfully, jaw-droppingly true. Mind you, you should have seen what they did with Virgina Woolfe not so long back - now that WAS funny... Cx

Christina Jones said...

alzamina - thank you and it's nice to see you again. So glad the hassle of moving is over - just the joy of settling in now??? Cx

Don Guitar said...

"am-dram" is a term I've never heard; sounds like something vile tasting that came from the pharmacy.

You're a good writer. I always enjoy your blog. I'm an avid and loyal reader of Fantasy and Science Fiction but I suppose I'm going to have to cave in and read one of your books. Thanks, I think, and best regards from Tow (rhymes with cow) Texas.

Flowerpot said...

lovely - I can imagine it all, particularly the snoring dog!

Christina Jones said...

Don G - am dram my lazy abbreviation for amateur dramatics BUT much prefer your interpretation! Thank you for your kind words - much appreciated especially on a grey morning when I've just exploded both the kettle and the tumble dryer... Oh, yes - go on - cave in! Please!

Christina Jones said...

flowerpot - thank you so much. Oh, the joys of living in a little rural community that atrophied socially somewhere around 1958... Cx

Lou said...

Hi, I'm new to the blog and I LOVE it!! Have been a long time fan of the books so it's fab to 'find' you online as well. If you loved Rebecca, you must try and see the light operatic masterpiece that is Titanic - The Musical.... yep, I saw the Titanic sink in the town hall and there wasn't even a Celine Dion song to break up the hysteria!!

Christina Jones said...

Lou - thank you so much for liking the books - and lovely to see you here - and I've got a feeling that Titanic: The Musical would beat Rebecca in The Scout Hut into several cocked hats!!! Fabulous! Oh, I WISH I'd seen that one... Cx