April has been a funny old month for me. Horseracing has eclipsed theatre, too little in the straight drama stakes, and the bloody and incessant rain has thwarted even my feeble attempts at gardening. Hosepipe ban? Mine’s stuck under ten feet of water and likely to remain there for the summer. Drama groups should get topical and put on Somerset Maugham’s Rain or Ayckbourn’s Way Upstream. Or better still, Noye’s Fludde, the 15th Century Mystery play. Google it. I did. As it is, my local lots have been rehearsing in the rain and saving all for, hopefully, the sunny month of May.
First under orders is Company of Ten’s Under the Stars, a play about those poor souls who learn all the lines but never get to strut the stage. Understudies. I saw it many years ago in Luton and was underwhelmed. An ordinary play that needs strong acting to grip. This classy St Albans group might just pull it off. Tried to see it on Tuesday night but the studio was sold out. Good for straight theatre, not good for me. Will go later in the week. If it doesn’t rain.
Don’t have much choice with Dunstable Rep’s fifth offering off their 2011/12 film season. Made a rash promise to review them all. So if you see a boat floating up the A5 it is probably mine. Should be worth the effort. The Talented Mr Ripley comes from the pen of Patricia Highsmith of Strangers on a Train fame. On paper it has an excellent director, Alan Clarke, and a first rate cast headed by Justin Doherty. But as with the gee gees, form in the book is never guaranteed. Fingers crossed this heady murderous mix translates to the stage.
Old favourites Wheathampstead also get in on the act with their production of Simon Mendes da Costa’s Losing Louis. Spawned at Hampstead Theatre Club this hilarious comedy (it says so on the poster) was a big success both here and abroad. Judging by the plot, angst ridden family and long buried secrets, this could be a reprise of their last production. That was Ayckbourn, this is a writer compared to him. So should be fun. I always enjoy going down the B653 to the Memorial Hall stagings. And if they block that route because of something I have said, I shall find another one. We critics are nothing if not resourceful.
Rounding off the month is Luton’s St Andrews Players with their 60th anniversary production at the Library Theatre. The fringe musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone was fettered with awards and was a Broadway smash but, sadly, flopped in London. Critics loved it but audiences stayed away. Too original was the cry. So in recreating this show about a theatre geek who brings to life his favourite 1920’s musical (fictional) the players are being brave. I hope it pays off. Especially as the woman who shares my bed is directing it. Now that should get tongues wagging.
So there you have it. St Albans, Dunstable, Wheathampstead, Luton. Will there be no end to my worldly travels? Of course not. Unless it rains.
Under the Stars – St Albans Company of Ten (27th April to 5th May – 8.00pm) Tel 01727 857861
The Talented Mr Ripley – Dunstable Rep (11th May to 19th May – 7.45pm) Tel 07940 105864
Losing Louis – Wheathampstead DS (17th May to 19th May – 8.00pm) Tel 01582 834669
The Drowsy Chaperone – St Andrews Players (30th May to 2nd June - 7.45pm) Tel 07778 241457