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Gosforth's Fete

Gosforth's Fete

Alan Ayckbourn

30 Nov - 7 Dec 2013

Adrian Bowd and Keith Gilbert


Performances

Sat 7:45pm, Mon 7:45pm, Tue 7:45pm, Wed 7:45pm, Thu 7:45pm, Fri 7:45pm, Sat 2:45pm, Sat 7:45pm

Synopsis

Gosforth’s Fete is a one-act play and part of Ayckbourn’s Confusions which will be performed as part of a double bill with the Youth Theatre Group’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Publican Gordon Gosforth is running the local fete; he is being assisted by Milly Carter, with whom he has been having a secret liaison. Their liaison is revealed to all and sundry in a most unfortunate manner, which her fiancé Stewart Stokes, the local scoutmaster does not appreciate. Despite the sympathies of the vicar, he tries to drown his sorrows. Against this chaotic backdrop the special guest speaker, Councillor Mrs Pearce, tries her best to deliver (unsuccessfully) her well-rehearsed speech. As one might expect, notwithstanding everyone’s best intentions, it all goes hilariously wrong. This is one of Ayckbourn’s funniest plays.

Director's Notes

Gosforth’s Fete is arguably Ayckbourn’s best crafted short play. Taken from the Ayckbourn quintology Confusions, Gosforth’s Fete was written and first performed in 1974. Ayckbourn is essentially a chronicler and editor of human behaviour. He juxtaposes the thoughts and dialogue of his characters in order to portray a faithful record of their lives. This is not a random exercise but the product of a process of sensitive selection on his part. We are invited to become eavesdroppers on people and situations which are carefully orchestrated with delicate theatrical ingenuity, and in this case, to spectacular comic effect.

Lewes Theatre’s own comic duo Bowd and Gilbert are combining in an unholy alliance to co-direct this ensemble and expect to present a strong cast, some fine special effects and great humour. Be prepared for a festival of sound, light and levity.

Should you need further incentive to book your seats and dissolve the gloom of a winter’s evening with fits of laughter, just consider the credentials of the two directors. Adrian Bowd recently entertained us with a brilliant production of Entertaining Angels whilst Keith Gilbert, for those with a slightly longer memory, brought to Lewes Ayckbourn’s technically challenging masterpiece, Man of the Moment. Both plays received, awards, excellent reviews and played to full houses.

Messrs Gilbert and Bowd are excitedly looking forward to this unusual collaboration and to working closely to deliver great comedy, great drama and memorable entertainment for your delectation… don’t miss it, ‘cos it won’t be available on “catch up” TV!

Review

The Christmas double bill continued with Alan Ayckbourn’s Gosforth’s Fete, a one-act play originally part of Confusions, a five act piece written in 1974. We were in for some classic poignant Ayckbourn farce born out of the human need to put on a brave face and keep up appearances while the ship is sinking. Keith Gilbert and Adrian Bowd cast 6 strong comedic actors to do justice to Ayckbourn’s script in their production, and the audience howled with laughter.

Henry Fouch (Wolf Cub) had presence and perfect comic timing setting the scene for us as he relished reorganising the signage in the tea tent. I loved Lindsey Holledge in the typical Felicity Kendall role of Milly – the not so innocent spinster of the parish. This is the best thing I’ve seen her do. Simon Hellyer worked well as Gosforth (with a distinct feel of John Cleese about him) whose quest to mount the village fete to end them all ends in personal and practical disaster. Douglas Wragg had appropriately walked straight out of a vintage sitcom playing the rather bumbling village Vicar. Trish Richings was perfectly ghastly as the Tory councillor who hilariously topples from her perch while being caked in mud and finally electrocuted. Mike Piller relished his place centre stage as Stewart - the cuckolded fiancé of Milly. Hitting the sherry bottle after hearing over the public tannoy system that Milly and Gosforth have had a liason resulting in a pregnancy, he treated us to a complete melt down employing all his skills as a comic actor.

As with the previous piece, I noticed the professional and authentic looking set by Adrian Bowd, Keith Gilbert, Geoff Parker and Joanne Cull and the care taken by Gerry Cortese and the team on sourcing the costumes.

The Financial Times described Gosforth’s Fete like this -

“Runs the gamut of comic technique from faintly pathetic situation comedy to outright farce.... Ayckbourn has demonstrated once again that even in a trivial situation he can hold the attention with his matchless ear for conversational speech, and in untrivial situations shows himself a comic writer of immortal quality.”

This production was well directed and acted by a cast who did justice to Ayckbourn’s script and worked perfectly with each other. It was a very good show. Over the year I have been reviewing for LLT I have never heard the audience laugh as much they did last night.

And it was good to see the Lewes Youth Theatre and the more experienced members on the same bill.

Lucy Fitchett

Other Dates

Audition Sat 17 August 2013 10:30am foyer