Back in 1973 saw Les Reading directed this comedy play by Georges Feydeau. A fun farce enjoyed by all.
Dr. Moulineaux has been out all night in a futile attempt to meet his mistress Suzanne. He tells his wife he has been with Bassinet, who is near death, but in walks Bassinet. He decides it is no longer wise to have Suzanne pretend to be a patient and rents an apartment that formerly belonged to a dressmaker. He and Suzanne are discovered in this hideaway by her husband, so the doctor poses as a dressmaker and is caught in a desperate entanglement when his wife, his mother-in-law, Bassinet, and Bassinet's wife appear. Moulineaux's household is in an uproar, but he manages to lie his way out of it all with the help of Bassinet, who has a photograph that seems to solve everything. This farce has outstanding roles and is successful played as a 1900s period piece or in a modern setting.
Etienne - Frank Shepherd
Yvonne - Sarah Hines
Moulineaux - Richard Hughesdon
Bassinet - Geoff Hines
Madame Aigerville - Betty Gillett
Suzanne - Doreen Reading
Aubin - Nigel King
Mlle. Pompinette - Jane Simon
Madame Herbert - Alison Edgley
Rosa - Audrey Shepherd
Players upstaged by hairy dog
(Local newspaper review)
The unheralded star of the Lane End Players' latest production turned out to be the small, hairy, grey dog called Gemma. She was not even mentioned in the cast list but she kept her cool as she was bundled around from one person to another maintaining a calm, if slightly bewildered expression.
Gemma also had the distinction of appearing in on of the first amateur productions in this country of Georges Feydeau's 'A Gown for His Mistress' - although she probably wasn't aware of it herself. The play was first performed professionally in Dallas, Texas, in May 1969.
The Players have also produced a new programme cover which will be used for future performances. This is yellow with two back ducks on the front and a window revealing the title of the current production.
In choosing A Gown for His Mistress the players set themselves quite a difficult task. The play was set in France and had a complicated plot dealing with a number of extra marital inquiries and required split-second timing.
The Players brought off the various contretemps expertly, especially towards the end when the play almost became a wife swapping party.
However some of the individual performances were rather exaggerated, particularly that of Richard Hughesdon who was not convincing as the physician Moulineaux. The yawning of the ancient butler Etienne (Frank Shepherd) at the opening of the play was a bit overdone. If he had gone on longer I think the audience would have fallen asleep.
Sandra Hines, with her delicious turned up nose was well cast a Yvonne, the young wife of Moulineaux. Betty Gillett as her mother Madame Aigerville gave one of the best performances of the lot. She obviously put a lot of energy and hard work into her part and its effect was not spoilt by the signs of first night nerves she showed on Friday.
Bassinet was described as a bore in the programme but I did not find Geoff Hines portrayal of the character boring at all. He made the part very large - in more ways than one.
Instead I found Monsieur Aubin played by Nigel King boring and rather tedious.
The costumes were excellent and helped to create the atmosphere. The contrast between Rosa (Audrey Shepherd) and the more refined mesdames was bought out well in her dress.
The Players created difficulties for themselves with their change of sets. The backdrops had to be turned round twice and although the sets shows ingenuity they were not solid; the wall shook when anyone knocked on a door, for instance.
However the bar was a welcome innovation during the two long intervals!
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