by Jean McConnell
7:30pm Saturday 22nd October, 2011
3:00pm Sunday 23rd October, 2011
Felpham Village Hall
7:30pm Saturday 29th October, 2011
Pagham United Reformed Church (St. Ninians)
Directed by Peter Green (ACT1) and Philip Amor (ACT2)
About the author
As well as her many plays, Jean McConnell has written for film, television, radio and numerous fiction stories for women's magazines. An actor herself, Jean directs her own work at her local amateur dramatic society in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where she lives.
When a production of Deckchairs 1 was produced in Perth in August 2005, a local journalist from the newspaper Post Impressions, telephoned Jean McConnell from Australia to interview her for an article. Jean told the journalist that she started writing her series of 'Deckchairs' plays for two women, for two actor friends who asked her to write a play that would give them a range of characters to act. Perhaps the reason why they are so popular is that Jean said that they were based on true stories that she had heard or experienced. Also she revealed that her favourite playlet from Deckchairs 1 was Doggies.
Jean's volumes of Deckchairs - she is up to Deckchairs 4 now - have been amongst her most famous works, being performed all over the world by both professionals and amateurs.
This was a delightful compilation of 5 short plays each consisting of two ladies sitting on deck chairs on the promenade. Having no scenery, no movement, minimal lighting changes and very few props these plays are very difficult to perform, depending entirely on their costumes and varied expressions and interpretations of the words. All ten ladies carried off their parts well, were word perfect in general and brought their characters to life with conviction. Each piece had a twist in the tail to add extra humour to the duologues. I particularly liked the first one, ‘Shoppers’ because of the interaction between the pair and the amount of activity with endless bags of goodies that they kept unpacking and showing to each other. I would like to have seen even more passion building between mother and daughter as the second play ‘Early Blight’ progressed but ‘Dancers’ closed the first half brilliantly despite a couple of prompts. Their costumes were a work of art and their facial expressions and body language said it all. After an excellent supper the second half started with ‘Late Frost’ which was slightly disappointing as we couldn’t hear the words very well but the last play of the evening ‘Doggies’ was brilliant. Both performers gave wonderful interpretations of their characters but the star of the evening was Liz McNally with her glove puppet dog Robbie who kept moving and acting throughout without causing Liz to forget her dialogue. It was a superb performance which kept the audience in fits of laughter from start to finish.
Jose Harrison. Noda Rep. Dist. 9.