Three in one from Theatre Club

The casts of the three one-act plays presented at the Dibble Tree Theatre this week. They are, from left, back - Harry Cheape, Robbie Gordon, Ethan Doherty; David Cheape, Sam Ruddell, Carolyn Harrison and Grant Wilson: front - Hannah Marshall, Bethany Craigie, Niamh Harper, Muriel Gordon and Eve Swinley.
The casts of the three one-act plays presented at the Dibble Tree Theatre this week. They are, from left, back - Harry Cheape, Robbie Gordon, Ethan Doherty; David Cheape, Sam Ruddell, Carolyn Harrison and Grant Wilson: front - Hannah Marshall, Bethany Craigie, Niamh Harper, Muriel Gordon and Eve Swinley.

IF THE worst thing you can say about an evening at the theatre is that you regret not taking advantage of the wine at the interval, then you can consider yourself lucky.

Staging three one act plays in a single evening can often produce mixed results, a cramped stage, long pauses between scenes and often an uncomplimentary mix of style and form.

However, at the Dibble Tree Theatre, Carnoustie Theatre Club once again demonstrated why they can often be found lurking around the trophy cabinet at drama competitions, by putting on a most entertaining and engaging programme.

The plays rather nodded at a general theme of youth rather than strictly adhered to it, and this allowed for a flexibility of material and style.

The first play, ‘Sandgran’ was entirely acted out by the youth section of the theatre club, including both flustered parents, the titular grandmother and the children.

Harry Cheape makes for an amusingly authentic boorish husband, and even his felt-tip moustache merely adds to the faintly ridiculous nature of his character.

Hannah Marshall gave a good turn as the stylish and sometimes selfish mother, while Bethany Craigie and Ethan Doherty were by turns playful and capricious as the grandchildren.

Niamh Harper was worryingly realistic as a frail old lady, and elicited much sympathy from the audience through the impersonal treatment of her family.

The traffic warden, played by Robbie Gordon, while a small part, acted as a sort of ‘mcguffin’ to move the plot along, first prompting the abandonment of the grandmother and then as a less than impartial narrator passing judgement on the family at the end.

The second play, ‘Daytrippers’, is more of a comedic dialogue that surely takes a great deal of acting skill to carry off smoothly.

Muriel Gordon and Eve Swinney were on fine form as two slightly over the hill office girls, Beryl and Doris respectively, who become separated from their colleagues on a work day out to the beach.

Beryl is one of those types instantly recognizable, domineering, insecure, smutty and inherently cruel, while Doris takes a passive role in the relationship, it is obvious that the two are workmates and not real friends.

Beryl gossips and nips at their colleagues, dishes the dirt and casts stones at other women from their factory and Doris meekly goes along, either too naïve to understand or too nice to object.

In a genuinely funny end scene, Doris and Beryl finally get a real sense of each other, and it is unlikely that the workplace will ever be the same again.

This play was excellently produced by 13-year-old Lucy Crabb, and her choice of minimalist set, with only a pair of deckchairs, and only a handful of small props kept the attention focused on the actresses.

The final play, ‘A Time for Farewells’, perhaps added a cyclical nature to the idea of youth, the first play having been by children, this last one has more to do with the end than the beginning.

It is difficult to describe the play without giving away the intricate details which made this such a powerful and moving piece of theatre.

The set contained only a multi-purpose box on and a bed, separated by a partition wall inset with a door that served as a portal by which the main characters Alex and Sarah explored their shared past.

A bittersweet, but often funny recollection of moments that every couple has, Grant Wilson and Carolyn Harrison are excellent as the loving couple torn apart by events.

In support, David Cheape and Sam Ruddell provide comedy and pathos in equal measure, and any dry eyes in the house at the end must surely have belonged to the hardest of hearts.

Once again Carnoustie Theatre Club have excelled in providing an evening of funny and thought provoking theatre, with an ingenious eye for Spartan stages and dramatic delivery, all in all, another success to add to the resume.

JR