IT IS Captain’s Day at the Seven Lakes Golf Club and everything is expected to run like clockwork.
There are competition rounds to be played and afterwards, the biggest social event of the year in the clubhouse.
But comedy demands that the best-laid plans should be wickedly subverted and frustrated.
For a start, the captain is too unwell to attend and two very different people are vying to step into his shoes and run the day in their own very different ways.
First, there is the officious, pedantic club secretary (a finely judged performance by seasoned player Martin Sworn) and then there is the unconventional, bearded motorcyclist (Barry Tinkler) who, in some unimaginable election, has been chosen as vice-captain.
Throw in a subversive feminist plot by aggrieved female members – one of whom puts the ‘man’ in ‘woman’ – a healthy dose of marital infidelity, indiscreet revelations by the secretary’s long-suffering and profoundly sozzled wife, not to mention the laxative effects of out-of-date sausages served at the foodstall – and the stage is all set for the various brands of chaos on which comedy thrives.
Under nicely-paced direction by Tony Makey, the six-strong cast from the Stage-Door Theatre company played as a good, mutually supportive ensemble during the show, at the Windmill Entertainment Centre, in Littlehampton.
David Griffin played Barry West, a bit of a loser on the links but good at scoring with birdies of a different kind.
Martin Sworn was terrific as the near-apoplectic club secretary and it wasn’t very difficult to understand why his wife (Anne Anderson) sought comfort in the bottle and the arms of other men.
Micki Darbyshire turned in a generous, good-natured performance as the mature, worldly-wise lady player who just might, we are led to believe, be a man, while Barry Tinkler’s unconventional approach to life was a good foil for any middle-class stuffiness in the club.
But for me, the big and very pleasant surprise of the evening was Emma Millard as the vice-captain’s drippy bimbo of a girlfriend.
Yes, it’s a bit of a one-register part – but she did it beautifully, working every second she was on stage and pulling off the trick of making the audience laugh at a stock stereotype while at the same time sympathising with the real human being behind it.
My quibble is not with the production but with the play.
Comedy often works like the jerky, unpredictable unwinding of an overwound spring – and I couldn’t help feeling that this one was as fully unwound as it needed to be about 20 minutes before the end.
Playwrights sometimes need to take on board the same advice as gamblers – stop while you’re winning!