Eastern Branch

The Eastern Branch welcomes enquiries from budding and new group organisers to our existing family of over 90 members in the Branch which covers Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, Suffolk and the London post code areas of London E, N and NW.

 

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MEMBERS IMPORTANT NOTICE:

All Members, please advise the Membership Secretary if your email contact details have changed since you first joined the AGTO - this is most important for continued contact and Membership updates.

 

The Branch Committee

 

Joan Hanks - Branch Director

Maria Maltby - Secretary

Linda Nicholas - Treasurer

Yvonne Hodson - AGTO magazine co-ordinator, Branch Webpage

Maureen Hardingham, committee member


 

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AGTO Magazine

Dear Members,

Just a reminder to send the details of your trips to Yvonne Hodson, AGTO magazine co-ordinator, Branch Webpage . Other members are really interested in your events and look forward to hearing from you. Send them to yhodson@gmail.com

 

 

CARLIE'S THEATRE TIPS

Falsettos at the Other Palace, London (until 23 November. Box office: 0844 871 7622).

 

The musical, which has won awards on Broadway, is set in the 1980s and tells how a Jewish man leaves his wife and son, Jason, to live with his male lover, Whizzer (Oliver Savile).  Marvin (played by Daniel Boys) wants to stay involved in his son's life
 - an outstanding performance from young Albert Attack as Jason on the day I went - and is particularly keen on the organisation of his bar mitzvah.  Trina (a lovely performance by Laura Pitt-Pulford) goes to the psychiatrist, Mendel (Joel Montague), recommended by her husband,  and the two fall in love.  Marvin is most unhappy at losing his therapist.  The sung-through musical is bright and funny with lots of energetic singing until it suddenly changes to a sombre look at the advent of the AIDS virus.

Well-written with some witty lyrics, with good singing from the cast, the play exposes some truths about being a real man and the importance of different types of relationships.

Rating ****

PLAYS TO MAKE YOU LAUGH

 

In gloomy weather like this and with the clocks changing so that daytime is shorter and darker, many of us look to the theatre to provide some light relief! These plays will, I trust, make you laugh!

 

First, we have THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (Wyndham’s Theatre, London until 11 January 2020, Box office: 0844 482 5120)

 

This is a real farce with lots of humorous moments and inventive action. Based on the 1950s comedy, which became a film starring Alec Guiness, it has been adapted by Sean Foley, who is renowned for his witty productions. It is now set in 1956 and tells how dedicated scientist, Sidney Stratton (Stephen Mangan) invents a material which never wears out, doesn’t stain and never needs cleaning!

But, of course, this is no good for big businesses and as efforts are made to stop Sidney’s invention becoming a reality, the action becomes more frenetic.  Sidney is aided by Daphne (Kara Tointon, who, making use of her Strictly skills, even dances!)  Both Tointon and Mangan and, indeed, the rest of the cast, perform with vigour.

Director, Sean Foley, fills the stage with physical gags and the actors put their effort into making sure that each one works well. There are a number of musical numbers played and sung by members of the cast. While the emphasis is on the visual sight gags – and there is great design by Michael Taylor - there are a number of topical gags to make the show relevant to our present times.

Rating ****

 

There are no topical references in NOISES OFF (Garrick Theatre, London until 4 January 2020, Box office: 0330 333 4811).  Instead this is a farce in the old-fashioned Whitehall farce manner and even includes trousers falling down! Director Jeremy Herrin gets every inch of humour from the bustling comedy, and his actors do him proud.

Taking place both backstage and on-stage during a provincial run of a play with a rather inept cast, we have a number of characters running on and off, dealing with various props, all of which succeed in helping the actors to make even more mistakes.  There is a constant theme of plates of sardines being taken on and off the set at mostly the wrong times.

Of course, Michael Frayn’s farce has become a classic and some of you will have seen it before.  It is, however, worthy of a second – or even third – look.

The cast of characters in the play within-the -play that we are watching includes the hopeless housekeeper (beautifully played by Meera Syal), an estate agent (the stunned-looking Daniel Rigby) and his girlfriend (Lisa McGrillis), the two owners, who return unexpectedly and Simon Rouse as an alcoholic actor playing the part of a burglar.  Our sympathies are with Poppy (Anjili Mohindra) and Tim (Adran Richards) who play the stagehands trying to keep track of props and actors.

There are lovely scenes where people pop in and out of rooms, narrowly missing each other.  Other scenes have actors arriving at the wrong time or not at all and other nightmare happenings when the poor actors just flounder as they wait to be rescued from the terrible disaster in which they find themselves.  If you are after a real belly laugh…go to this with your group.

Rating****

 

TICKLE (King’s Head Theatre, London, Box office: 0207 226 8561) is only on for a very short run, but it is worth catching if you can or when it comes on elsewhere which it surely must!  The King’s Head is a lovely little theatre set in a Victorian pub so you might fancy taking a small group to another show there!

Based on a real endurance competition, the little musical comedy shows two guys (James McDowall and Ben Brooker) being recruited, by the lure of lots of money, to take part in a tickle competition.  They find themselves at odds with the way the tickle competition is being run by the diva, Tina Tickle (the outrageous Richard Watkins) and his assistant Davina Diamond (Amy Sutton).

 

The actors do wonders with the huge pink feather fans and all sing well.  There is even some choreography.  Chris Burgess has written the book, lyrics and music and the it is directed by Robert McWhir. The show is amusing and lots of fun!

Rating ****

 

Not quite in the same category as the above comedies, but A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG (Trafalgar Studios, London until 30 November. Box office: 0844 871 7632) has many laughs in spite of the fact that it deals with such a tragic theme.  Although it is some 52 years since the play was first presented in the West End, it is still emotional to watch.  How Peter Nichols was able to write this play when he himself had a severely disabled daughter is amazing.

The play deals with the on-going difficulties of a couple struggling to cope with bringing up a daughter who is so disabled that she hardly moves and only makes sounds rather than speaking.  The way the couple cope is to make fun of their situation; they speak the words that their daughter should speak and comment in a humorous manner on their day to day dramas.  They act out in little role-playing scenes various scenarios that have or could occur. But their coping mechanism obviously has an effect on their marriage, and they are now straining to come to terms with what is happening.

From the first moment Bri, the husband, played by Toby Stephens, addresses the audience, we can see that the character is a real person.  Claire Skinner is also brilliant in the role of the mother/wife Sheila.  And there are telling performances from their friends who visit.  As played by Clarence Smith and Lucy Eaton, we see how they find the interaction with Joe very difficult and Sheila just wishes to leave.  There is a lovely cameo from Patricia Hodge as grandmother to a girl she wishes could run like others.  Good, too, to see a disabled actress as Joe.  It is a relief to hear her address the audience in her own voice to announce the interval.

A strong play by the late Peter Nichols, it is well worth a visit.

Rating*****

 

Carlie Newman