Wife After Death – Season 5, 2014

 Wife After Death

by Eric Chappell.

Directed by Joan Scafe.WAD BANNER

Performance dates – Nov. 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, Dec.4, 5, 6 @ 8pm. Nov. 30th @ 2pm.

Dave Thursby’s friends are gathered at his funeral. Their memories of him are very different and often clash. When the mysterious Kay arrives to drop her bombshell everyone endeavours to keep up appearances for the sake of the widow. Later, when the time comes to dispose of the ashes and Dave’s secret life is finally exposed, tempers and ashes fly.

Cast
Harvey Barrett          Peter Bloor
Vi Barrett                   Sharon Menzies
Kevin Prewitt            Andrew O’Connell
Jane Prewitt              Tatiana Dalin
Kay                                Andrea Von Bertouch
Laura Thursby           Jennifer McGrath

About the author – Eric Chappell took up full time writing in 1973 after his first stage play, The Banana Box, was produced at the Apollo Theatre, London. The play later inspired the classic TV comedy Rising Damp, winner of the BAFTA award for best situation comedy. In 1979 Eric’s screen version won the Evening Standard Film award for best comedy.

Other television successes include The Squirrels, The Bounder, Home to Roost (all of which won PYE TV awards), Only When I Laugh, Duty Free, Singles, Fiddlers Three and Haggard.

Eric has written over 200 television comedy scripts and more than 20 stage plays which are performed worldwide. He is unquestionably one of the top writers of comedy in Britain today.

 

A Review, by Gordon The Optom.

‘Wife after Death’ was written by Eric Chappell, and published in 2011. Eric Chappell wrote the classic TV series ‘Rising Damp’ that won a BAFTA and the Evening Standard Film award for best comedy. He is indisputably one of the leading comedy writers in Britain today.

The two-hour performances of this extremely funny comedy (not a farce) can be seen at the Melville Theatre, on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Melville nightly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 6th December. There is one matinee; it is on Sunday 30th November at 2.00 pm.

The scene is the present day, in the Thursby’s sitting room. The set is a sumptuous room with French windows (designer Joan Scafe, built by Peter Bloor and Ross Bertinshaw).

The walls are ice green, the furniture a white three-piece suite, with antique oak table and mirrors. In the centre of the room is a casket and wreaths on a trestle.

     The highly popular TV comedian, Dave Thursby, has died and his friends are gathering in his house for his funeral. The first to arrive is Dave’s scriptwriter and best friend, curmudgeon Harvey (Peter Bloor) who has kept him top of the ratings for a decade. With Harvey is his long-suffering wife, Vi (Sharon Menzies) who is trying to get her squeamish husband to look into the open coffin and pay his last respects to Dave.

       Harvey whispers to Vi that only a day or two earlier, Dave had confided in him, admitting to a rather delicate subject that could blow their careers to pieces.
       One of the TV executives, Kevin (Andrew O’Connell) and his production secretary, wife, Jane (Tatiana Dalin) have helped Dave’s leggy wife, Laura (Jennifer McGrath) arrange the private funeral – for close friends and relatives only. Just before the service begins, a rather tarty looking woman, who no one seems to recognise, appears at the house, she is Kay (Andrea Von Bertouch).

The Melville Theatre is renowned for its quality drama productions, but recently they do not have many comedies under their belt. I was therefore a little dubious as to how good this production would be, as Chappell’s comedy is a specialised genre and takes particularly good comedic actors to carry out the dry humour.

The highly experienced director, Joan Scafe, has chosen a wonderful cast and led them skilfully through all of the twists and turns. The teamwork was magnificent and every joke delivered with subtlety. This must have been one of Peter Bloor’s best performances.

The lighting design and set painting was by courtesy of the Jensen Clan, with sound and lighting operated by Sue Lynch.

Plenty of surprises and fresh humour in this family comedy. Very well acted and certainly worth seeing.