Outside Edge

May 1996

by Richard Harris, directed by Holly Shakespeare


Miriam - Maggie Butt

Roger - John Marshall

Bob - Keith Palmer

Dennis - Rob Hole

Maggie - Bridget Bellenberg

Kevin - Mike Edwards

Ginnie - Lynn Leger

Alex - Cass Thorne

Sharon - Helen Palmer

Arnold - Peter King

Charles - Phil Attard

Production Team:

Director - Holly Shakespeare

Stage Management - Keith Palmer, Peter King, Brian Bowker, Barry Hook, Paul Harrington, Bill Shakespeare & Chris Lambert

Properties - Maureen Whitt, Rose Gander & Jenny Harrington

Sound Effects - Nigel Albright & Ron Murray

Lighting - Barry Matthews

Wardrobe - Isla Morgan and the cast

Prompt - Mary Jones

Front of House - Jean Halliday and team

Production Co-ordination - Mary Lambert


From Estuary News:

...the Director's ... manipulation of the complicated entrances, exits and and gyrations was faultless...

The audience were well prepared for this play by imaginatively colourful publicity in local shops and a whispered rumour that we were in for something good. In the hall therefore we picked up our programmes with a pleasant sense of anticipation. These programmes were attractively designed and worded. They contained notes of welcome and explanation by the Director, Holly Shakespeare, which expressed the hope that the enjoyment felt by the players and organisers would be shared by the audience. Let us see!

Nominally Richard Harris wrote the play; but after rain had inevitably stopped play and the the play itself, I discussed the evening with a friend. We decided that John Major must have inspired and collaborated. In one of his typically hard-hitting speeches he described the nation the Conservatives aimed to conserve as 'an England of village cricket, lukewarm beer, country sounds (Owzat?) and elderly ladies cycling to church'. It is all encapsulated in Outside Edge. The cycling would come on Sunday. There is even the traditional element of sleaze to make it all really topical. A real vote catcher!

The Director wisely decided on a formal stage rather than theatre in the round which the Estuary Players have tended to favour. The stage made an excellent interior of a pavilion. It was carefully and judiciously furnished with an expert attention to detail. An apron stage, green with artificial grass, gave access to the imagined pitch and was a good setting for as shapely a pair of legs as I have seen for some time. There were 4 entrances. The number of players obviously had to be 11. From the Director's point of view the stage management must have been fascinating and demanding; her manipulation of the complicated entrances, exits and gyrations was faultless.

Now for the play itself. Act I at 1 pm. Tension in the pavilion! The captain exuded apprehension in every pore. The Club was his life. His wife knew this only too well: she registered frustration with convincing petulance. They both worried about the waywardness of some of the team who had erotic and other marital off-stage preoccupations. They were rather like Mr and Mrs Noah hoping for a full ark before the flood came. The couples and parts of couples entered by their allotted routes. All the actors proved to have a clear idea of the characters they presented, which they did confidently and competently.

A game started. 'Noises off' were impressively executed with a tactful variation of applause and groans. Batsmen returned, the score mounted. In the pavilion various members of the team arrived on time. One couple, Maggie the 'tart with the heart of gold' type and her boyfriend who was born a 'Kevin' played their own game as explicitly as might be. A nice bit of acting! Bob's off stage get-together had obviously been unprofitable because he settled down to drink and accompany most of the rest of the play with a mildly drunken monologue. He proved to be married to Ginnie, she of the legs, and in the end realised his good fortune. In the meantime he had been run out by Alex whom he knocked down when he came off the pitch. Alex, according to Bob, was guilty on 2 charges, running him out and being a solicitor. Alex presented himself as a puzzling character. He seemed uneasily and justifiably conscious that for a local solicitor to arrive coupled with an ingenue in pink called Sharon was a social gaffe, for he ignored her completely. But did he know how to fall: (possibly unarmed combat training on national service?).

Then came unexpected drama. Sharon in pink entered and set off on an urgent journey to the loo off stage right. At the same time Dennis, who had the most difficult part to play, was on tenterhooks about his wife's obsession with viewing and buying houses. His mind was divided between socialising, batting and his wife's threatening activities. Sharon's progress was delayed by a series of erratic movements by almost everyone on stage. When at last she neared the door the telephone rang and Dennis rushed in front of her to the phone. He was eventually told that his wife had set fire to his car. Sharon's progress was to me the most amusing part of an amusing play. it was meticulously managed farce. She had a frustrating afternoon and it is not surprising that she ended it locked in the lavatory.

'The rest of the Team'. The logistics were managed by a most efficient and, I am told, enthusiastically cheerful team. Mary Lambert was responsible for co-ordination and control and, again I am told, had determination and a clear sense of purpose coated with charm. One of the set construction team, Barry Hook, is said to have dismantled his own kitchen to bring perfection to the set! These are 2 names of many that deserve credit.

In every respect the hope expressed in the Director's introduction was amply realised. We certainly look forward to the next production.

- Reviewed by: James Smeall