Monday, 1 April 2013

More buried treasure: Owlglass Theatre production of Ken Campbell's play, 'You See, The Thing is This' 4th -7th July 2012

Owlglass Theatre:
"You See, The Thing is This"

Veronica (Georgie Fenwick) can't take
Walter (Sebastian Pope) seriously
By Wednesday evening (4th July 2012) an independent theatre production was muscling in on the 'Ignite' scene. Right on cue, Sebastian Pope's 'Owlglass' theatre company opened the third of their bi-monthly 'quadrilogy' of nonsense plays at the Hourglass Inn, Ken Campbell's 'You See the Thing is This'. (Their previous two productions had been James Saunders' 'Alas Poor Fred' and Eugene Ionesco's 'Frenzy for Two'.)

Campbell's strange piece starts with the entrance of a very strange man - Walter Bardell, played by Sebastian himself. Walter is an irrepressibly childish character. He is fascinated by the toy trains, and various other objects in the room, including an iconic tennis-related poster from the seventies.
The arrival of Harry
(Tim Metcalfe-Woode)
spells trouble
Georgie Fenwick enters as Veronica Brace (also in tennis gear to Walter's consternation). The toys, and the tennis gear are explained to the background sound of Walter's vinyl record of Scottish songs which has got stuck at a certain phrase . . . hilarious! (and very clever backstage control of the sound). It also becomes apparent that Walter has a rival, called Harry Milner, who has usurped his place in the tennis doubles tournament.
Next on the scene is Harry himself (played by Tim Metcalfe-Woode). What an amazing character - also in tennis gear, the tight, short, shorts of the seventies, the owlish look of Bjorn Borg - plus the trademark headband. (Effective, but not likely to be Campbell's original idea. When Ken was writing, John Newcombe beat Ken Rosewall in the Wimbledon finals - Borg didn't hit the headlines, and affect tennis fashion, for another six years.)
Anachronisms aside (that poster has also been back-dated six years), Tim's 'Harry' is a spectacular character full of energy and enthusiasm, which spills over into more belligerent bonhomie when he finds he has a rival. Confronted by this interloper, Walter argues his corner, with boyish determination. Veronica watches the exchange with bemused interest, her eyes following the action - like a tennis match.
and match
Short, but sweet, Ken Campbell's first play is a one act stroke of genius. By way of epilogue it ends with the appearance of a fourth character - a young cub scout - and a complete change of mood. In an act of consideration to his audience, Campbell gently brings them and Walter back to earth with the banalities of his everyday life - as a scoutmaster.
A fourth character - cub scout
Two boys took turns to play the scout on successive nights, and very nearly stole the show. Perhaps Seb will let us know who these unsung heroes were!

Four great actors, Four great characters. Phenomenal characterisation and irrepressible comedy. The 'select' audience of the tiny Hourglass theatre were treated to a condensed masterpiece. Chalk up another hit for 'Owlglass Theatre'.

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