MEN OF THE WORLD by John Godber
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
Performed by Magpie Drama until Saturday 11th January 2014
What better way to warm up your cold January evenings than with an evening of warmth and humour, with just a touch of melancholy, from one of our best loved playwrights, John Godber.
The one liners, observational humour and characters are typical Godber and the three actors from Magpie Drama Rachel Bates, Gary Lever and Howard Mackintosh bring to life about 18 characters between them. Meet The Beverley Sisters, The Marx Brothers, Mack and Mabel among the many elderly regular bus travellers, all with their many colourful tales to tell, and Dolly, the nightclub entertainer who performs the same act for the sixth year running...ah but is that a new joke tonight? The camp guest house owners and the 46 year old who still goes away on holiday with his mum, oh and then there's the one that dies en route.
Rachel plays Frank (don't ask -it'll only shock you) the only female bus driver of the three; Larry, played by Gary, the elder driver and Mario Lanza fanatic and Stick, played by Howard the one that moans about all of his passengers and thinks that they should all be shot and wants to do the Spanish run with all of the totty.
With just three actors on stage, bare bones scenery and about 18 suitcases to manoeuvre around the stage, this play really relies on the wonderfully funny script and the talents of the actors to paint pictures in your mind, and they succeed in doing just that. It's quite amazing how when the flat caps and the spectacles go on, or the headscarves, Rachel, Mark and Howard not only become different people, they look and sound so different as well.
The characterizations are excellent, and how the actors can remember all of those words, and which character they are and who says what is a tribute to all three. A mention to the sound and lighting technician, Simon Birchall for his part in creating the sectioned areas of the play, giving each scene a different feel, and also for the well executed sound effects is also due.
This is only the second play for the newly formed Magpie Drama, formed by Rachel and her husband Dan, who's also a fine actor himself, and with this standard, and inspired choice of plays, I predict many more full houses to come and a successful future for Magpie.
And what makes it all more of a great night out is that tickets are from 5 -7 quid. Absolute bargain if you ask me!