If laughter was a measure of wellbeing then supporters of Bolsover Drama Group must be glowing with good health.
Their chuckle muscles were given a good workout as they watched a fast-paced, manic production of Who Goes Bare?
The ten-strong cast must surely have shed a few pounds as they dashed around on stage, up and down stairs and in and out of doors.
All the best farces have characters in various states of undress - and this one was no exception with six players shedding their clothes along with their inhibitions. It was all done in the best possible taste but caused plenty of amusement, not least a flash of Ian Simpson’s naked buttocks as he disappeared into a room after protecting his modesty with a large painting entitled Stag At Bay and Janet Koszegi holding onto a wayward towel as if her life depended on it.
One of the stars of the show at the Assembly Rooms, Bolsover, was the set which gave the players their first opportunity in 33 years to perform on two levels. Designed to look like a health club with nine doors, a staircase and a window, it was an impressive feat of construction by the play’s director and sound and lighting chief Derrick Hulett, leading man Chris Peck and fellow actor Ken Radmore. Its only drawback was beyond the company’s control, a curtain rail which masked some of the characters’ expressions when they were on the upper level.
The cast made great use of the set in a production in which timing was everything. Leading man Chris Peck excelled as the health club manager who was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, resorting to gambling to shore up his floundering business and attempting to protect his philandering brother from being rumbled by a dominant spouse. The way in which Chris dashed frantically around the stage then looked the epitome of calm while everything was descending into chaos was pure Basil Fawlty.
Ian Simpson ramped up the hilarity factor in his role as the club boss’s brother, spending a large amount of the play wearing scarely anything bar socks and shoes and having to manouevre up and downstairs with just the aforementioned painting to spare his bushes. He was aided and abetted by Chanel Maxfield, playing his girlfriend who thought she was visiting a nudist club - cue more naked high jinks, and Janet Koszegi as his wife who mistook vodka for water to hilarious effect.
Some of the best comedy sketches came from Louise Sutton as the Brummie-speaking maid Minnie who had designs on her boss and dreamed of being a masseuse, practising her technique on a life-size dummy called Philip which was stashed in her broom cupboard.
Istavan Koszegi lived up to his role as a quick-change artist whose impersonations were taking over his life to such as extent that he no longer knew who the real person was. Istavan’s comical reinventions included station master, flamenco dancer, Army brigadier and Indian doctor.
Garry Johnson pulled off a convincing Scottish accent in his role as the kilt-wearing husband on the trail of his frisky wife and Ken Radmore revelled in the role of shady East End gangster,
Sue Hilton played an officious police sergeant who sparked a Benny Hill-style chase around the stage and Ruth Bonner had a commanding presence as the Chief Constable’s wife who collected up the discarded clothes for Oxfam, or as the maid misinterpreted it, the starving students of Oxford.
Who Goes Bare?, which ended its four-performance run last night (Saturday, May 31) was a laugh a minute show and one of the finest plays that Bolsover Drama Group has staged for years.
Next up for the company is the youth section’s presentation of Guy and Dolls Jr at The Bolsover School from July 16 to 19.
The adults will stage their production of the musical High Society at the school from October 8 to 11.
For tickets, contact 01246 850402 or book online at www.bolsoverdramagroup.org