WATER LANE THEATRE COMPANY
Directed by Doug Sheppard
Reviewed at Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishops Stortford on Friday 20 th April 2018
I was really looking forward to seeing this production as I remember how I used to love watching Hi-De- Hi on TV back in the 80’s. Would the cast really be able to convincingly re-create these diverse characters to meet the audience’s expectations? Of course they would, and with the attention to detail that I had come to expect from this society.
The characters in this classic comedy are a mixed bunch, each with their own story to tell. Most would have you believe that being part of the entertainment team at Maplin’s Holiday Camp is a far cry from their real calling.
Lisa Turpcu was just perfect as head Yellowcoat Gladys Pugh, displaying all the mannerisms, including the sideward glances, we have come to expect of the character. Her Welsh accent was quite amazing. The object of Gladys’ desire, holiday camp director Jeffrey Fairbrother, was very well played by Kevin Stemp who really captured this dithering character, a man completely out of his comfort zone. I loved the scene where he has too much to drink but is determined not to let his guard down. This was a terrific piece of controlled acting.
A terrific performance also by Kerry Wheeler as Peggy Ollerenshaw, the chalet maid whose dream is to be a Yellowcoat. Always eager to please everyone, this character had the audience on side from the start as she brought out the comedy in every line. Very well done.
There were other good performances from Lynda Shelverton and Granville Rush as Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves. I did feel though that Barry could have been more camp as befits the character and wouldn’t it have been nice to see these two give a demonstration of their ballroom skills? According to the programme though this would have been a step too far!
Andy Roberts as Ted Bovis, always on the lookout to make a fast buck and Adam Andrews as Spike made a good pairing. Richard Pink as Fred Quilly, Les Sullivan as Mr Partridge and Amanda Green as Hilary Bovis ably supported the main cast, as did Greg Hill as Mr Pritchard, the policeman on holiday whose crucial evidence saves Glady’s blushes. John Johnson-Cook as The Bailiff along with the other Yellowcoats played by Corrina Graham-Hodson (Sylvia), Sally Fenton (Tracy), Rachel Jackson (Betty) and Fleur Lousie Oliver (Dawn) completed the line-up.
The split stage with Mr Fairbrother’s office stage right, the Staff Room stage left, and the Radio Maplin desk on the apron worked well, and together with the use of the floor in front of the stage for the other scenes, minimised the need for long pauses during scene changes.
The costumes were excellent. Sound was good and for the most part so was the lighting. There were just one or two instances on the evening I attended when the lights did not appear on cue. That said, this was an excellent production. It moved at a good pace, was true to the series and above all, Peggy gets her very own yellow blazer.
Congratulations to director Doug Sheppard, with whom I managed to have a brief word after the performance, and to the cast and everyone else involved. Another very enjoyable evening’s entertainment from this talented company.