ALVECHURCH DRAMATIC SOCIETY
MR GRIMWHIP’S SANDWICHES
ALVECHURCH VILLAGE HALL
DIRECTOR DAVE HOWARD
12th MAY 2017
It was good to be back with Alvechurch Dramatic Society to see an original piece of work – Mr Grimwhip’s Sandwiches. The play was written and directed by Dave Howard a member of the society and most certainly provided an evening of entertainment as the story unfolded. Although only my second visit to this society I could relate to the story and many of the in jokes regarding the society and the local community.
The seating arrangement was somewhat different. On this occasion, along with the usual stage was a thrust stage extending most of the length of the hall. The ‘Called to the Bar’ sign over the bar was a nice touch along with (for those of us old enough to remember) the theme tune from Crown Court playing.
We were greeted by Steve Siddle who along with others greeted the audience until playing the part of Barry Sommerville a rather cynical, seen it all before court usher / security guard.
On stage we had the Judge, the dock and members of the jury. The jury consisted of willing volunteers from the audience. Most of the other characters and most of the action took place on the thrust stage.
We saw the trial unfold of Oscar Banicki played by Jonathan Oseland an outsider who was not really accepted by many in the village. As the action took place in the court room and in flash backs it was necessary for the actor to flit from the dock to action on stage. A part well played and a character we got to know as the play developed.
The play by and large centred around a pantomime and the apparent sandwiches entrusted to an audience member. But what happened to them? Could a character really be murdered by exploding sandwiches? There after we have our plot and subsequent trial.
Overseeing the case was of course the Judge who had his own interpretation of how to run a court and on the law. Played by Alan Clarke he gave an excellent performance. During the trial, we saw his many hobbies and interests come into play from flower arranging, painting, drinking wine, playing a balalaika, playing jenga to knitting. The knitted wig in act two was brilliant along with the need to refer to the ‘Dummies Guide to Judging’.
Our barristers Ms George and Mr Harper played by Gemma Batty and Martin Salter were both confident in the roles they portrayed which were very different to each other with constant bickering and trying to get one up on each other.
Witnesses were again well played. Zoe Heathcock the owner of the local bistro (café), Felicity Heathcock the keen gardener with her catch phrase ‘Have you heard’ and Mary Heathcock the artist played by Sarah Vince, Myfanwy Griffiths and Sarah Batstone. Although all these characters had the same surname we were told this was purely coincidental. Our ‘victim’ Clare Swann, Sally Trent manager of the village after school club and Bob the caretaker played by Emma- Louise Hodgson, Emily Waller and Ges Taylor were equally believable.
I could not finish without special mention of Christopher Davies (played by Chris Davies) and Adam Brown (played by Adam Brown). Chris Davies was hilarious as the writer / director of the local am dram group. Every bit the stereotypical ‘actor or director’ who appeared to have a language of his own with completely made up words. The mannerisms had to be seen to be appreciated especially when explaining the highlighting of a script in different colours and the clarification of different sized props. Adam Brown his side kick and actor played his part well. I particularly liked the use of one prop – a copy of a recent NODA Today magazine and turning up for the trial dressed as a rather unusual pantomime dame!
A couple of twists at the end were well thought out. After the verdict, the Judge continued to tell us, despite the later discovered evidence of the truth, that the people had spoken and therefore the will of the people needed to be upheld. Not sure what line the writer was suggesting here!
The attention to detail in the costumes and props was authentic and good use of lighting all ensured this production worked. Always a gamble to use home written untested material but this was one which most certainly paid off.
Thank you to all at Alvechurch Dramatic Society for your welcome. See you again in November.