Next on my local ‘theatre-go-round’ was a visit to Chelsfield Players for their April production of Ray Cooney’s farce ‘Funny Money’. Chelsfield village itself with the Five Bells pub almost opposite the neat little village hall celebrates the delightful contrast between town and country which characterises our great choice of local theatre venues in the Borough.
As they say in the restaurant reviews, ‘my companion and I’ enjoyed an excellent meal in the Five Bells before stepping across to the welcoming village hall where a full house was already almost in place. Purchasing drinks from the licensed (kitchen) bar at a civilised rate, we settled down in the front row to enjoy an evening of raucous comedy. I might add at this stage that the Players are to be commended for their raised seating across the back rows, enabling the audience to easily view and hear performances, a considerable asset that should be the norm for all societies performing in village halls. And while I’m on it, I also welcome their booking policy through Ticket Source which allows patrons to book early, secure the seats of their choice and print them off at home.
Choice of play is obviously the most important consideration in terms of ‘bums on seats’. It is hard to imagine that at one time, some societies actually self-indulged by somewhat arrogantly choosing plays that they thought appropriate for their ‘less discriminating’ audiences. They got away with it only until the arrival of television. If the productions I have attended around the Borough since lockdown ended are anything to go by, full houses – distanced and non-distanced – are progressively and happily becoming the norm once more.
This brings me neatly to ‘Funny Money’ (at last I hear you cry!). Whether you are a fan or not, farce is a sure-fire genre to get folk out of their cosy armchairs and away from banal television to join friends and family for a night of nonsensical jollity – and boy, do we need that these days! After two years of lockdown postponement, the Players finally cashed in with their uproarious performance of ‘Funny Money’ thanks to the 8 non-stop, 70’s costumed cast roller coasting their way through a crazy script and roars of laughter from a packed house. Once more I admired the ingenuity of the set builders for the convincing 7O’s set on a small stage which still allowed the cast to move around with the speed and ease essential to the fast pace demanded by farce. I also liked the removal of the opening curtain which has become a feature of both professional and amateur theatre giving audiences a chance to ‘acclimatise’ themselves with the forthcoming action rather than having to stare at a blank curtain.
So, after a long-awaited and welcome return to Chelsfield, back to the diary to check the dates for the Players’ next production ‘Ladies Down Under’ 21 – 23 July.