Review: Drinking Habits: Heath Players produce a vintage performance

Entertainment / Thu 21st Mar 2024 at 02:49pm

Drinking Habits by The Heath Players: Wed March 20th

FARCE is all about pacing and timing. That’s why it is is hard to do well. This is why we should firstly praise the director, Jo Gladstone, who (with her team) produced two hours of tremendous fun.

Two nuns at the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing have been secretly making wine to keep the convent’s doors open, but Paul and Sally, reporters and former fiancees, are hot on their trail. They go undercover as a nun and priest, but their presence, combined with the addition of a new nun, spurs paranoia throughout the convent that spies have been sent from Rome to shut them down.

Farce is very much about physical comedy. Even harder if most of the time the cast are in cassocks and vestments but these are actors who use every part of their bodies to enhance the comedy. Take Chrissie Waites as Sister Philomena. Here face alone sold the show. A nun who cannot tell a lie. With a minimum of movements and gestures. She had a great partner in Becky Vincent as Sister Augusta, who had a straighter role but was also very funny. Her “haunting” of Sister Mary Catherine was very funny indeed.

This play got the very best of Jack Downey and Eve-Marie Florence Downey. Jack’s animated histrionics were worth the entrance fee alone. Sort of Jim Carrey meets Danny Kaye. Jack knows where the line is and never crosses it. Instead his elastic comedy of mannerisms is a pure delight. There is one particular line to do with Cardinal Redding that was a standout moment.

Eve is also so dynamic and drives the narrative. Think she would make a very good investigative journalist!

But the talents of everyone on and off stage came to a crescendo of farce a the end of act one. This is where timing was key and timing was impeccable. More than that it was a perfect delivery of an immaculate conception. We have watched over performances of this scene and they just dont get the pace right. Heath Players nailed it.

As we said there is an irony with farce, that less is more. This was key with Lee Barnes as George the groundsman. The fruit punch scene was just right. And perhaps that sums up a lot of work that the Heath Players do. They are very generous, very fair.

If we had a criticism, then the otherwise very good, Mother Superior was a little hesitant with her lines. We are sure she will be pitch perfect on Thursday and beyond.

The two hours sped by. Farce is a cacophony of doors slamming and costume changes. Of sight gags (a great one with flowers by the once again, very affable Adam Thompson as Father Chenille. Plus great support from Melanie Gunetilleke as Sister Mary Catherine.

The audience loved this and we have come to know and respect the Heath Players audiences. You ge used to sitting near to certain people and if they laugh then that is the mark of quality.

Plus there were one or two scenes that go ovations on their own. Fine praise indeed.

This production was brought by an army of volunteers. Many have very busy lives and so ago, this show was a tribute to you.

We often think that The Heath Players are the beating heart of amateur dramatics. There is such a warm welcome form each and every member.

We understand that the chair of Heath Players, Mark Ratcliff is standing down after 35 years! He has served with distinction and is a much respected ambassador for the theatre.

Drinking Habits continues until Saturday.

Click below for more details.


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1 Comment for Review: Drinking Habits: Heath Players produce a vintage performance:

Marilyn Good
2024-03-23 08:17:16

What a great night we had. You could only marvel at the comedy timing and elasticity of the actors, especially Jack. Just how did you get in that box and out again. An evening to remember. Thanks to all involved.

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