Curtain Call - a funny look at power struggle

Curtain Call by Bettine Manktelow was the choice for the Blyth Players’ latest production at Barnby Memorial Hall, Blyth.

First time director Richard Fletcher took on this unusual play set in a theatre manager’s office and focusing on the day-to-day running of a small theatre.

The play saw a lot of firsts. It was a first appearance in a senior play for George Earl playing theatre manager Alex Partridge, Rachel Shaw as Arts Council representative Ms Murdston, Lucy Greaves as Rita and also Rosie Bramall as Lulu Lynchpin the backstage manager.

It was the first lead role for Deborah Spencer as Di Mason - long-suffering wife of Barry Pickwell’s Clive Mason - the power-crazed chairman of the theatre trustees.

One had to feel sorry for Alex Partridge whose managerial skills were easy-going to say the least, allowing his secretary to rule the roost and the chairman to practically take over his role.

Alex tried to please everybody (which we all know is impossible) and began to hopelessly lose control of the situation.

Later we were introduced to Richard Fletcher’s Murphy, the front of house manager who flirted outrageously with the women around him, upsetting secretary Val who stormed around under a furious cloud of resentment.

Curtain Call was a sweet and sour mixture of incidents and emotions, and we began to realise that there was quite a serious central theme.

Not only was there a power struggle between the manager and the chairman of trustees, there was also a power struggle between the manager and an agent, and between the chairman and his wife who he had totally dominated for years.

The close of the play sees the chairman’s wife - with the help of the apparently mousy Rita - fight back and assert her independence at the expense of husband Clive who loses his battle to become mayor of Thurlow, and is forced to resign his post.

It also sees the manager finally exert his authority over Clive and the twist in the tale is that the person you least expected to be strong - Rita - has the soundest outlook on life and the best advice.

Rebecca Nelson played an intensely moody secretary and Rosie Bramall a very flustered, but likeable Lulu. Barry Pickwell made us hate his boorish character and George Earl was instrumental in gaining our sympathy. Rachel Shaw played a very cool and controlled Ms. Murdstone and Richard Fletcher an infuriating flirt.

It was, though, the interaction between Di and Rita that was really interesting and Deborah Spencer and Lucy Greaves played these roles really well.

Deborah as Di performed a brilliantly funny drunken collapse behind a sofa and Lucy as Rita played her role as Di’s advisor with believable sensitivity.

Although played for laughs, this play had you thinking afterwards - an interesting one.

By Wendy Fidoe