Bazaar and Rummage | 30th September – 5th October 2019

Bazaar and Rummage by Sue Townsend

Directed by Janet Clark

In the this heartfelt comedy, Gwenda, an ex-agoraphobic, leads a self-help group of three women who have been unable to leave their homes for a variety of reasons.  She forces them to help at a local bazaar, enlisting the support of Fliss, a trainee social-worker.

While sorting through the rummage their individual fears erupt – but calm is restored by the ever-sensible Fliss.  As they leave the hall it is apparent their agoraphobia is not cured but they have taken steps in the right direction…

Cast

Margaret………….. Mary-Rose Goodliffe
Bell Bell…………… Claire Morris
Fliss…………………. Charlotte Worker
Gwenda…………….. Christine Lever
Katrina……………… Sharon Hawkes
Policewoman……… Jan Stockwell

Backstage

Director……………………………. Janet Clark
Set Design………………………… Adrian Pope
Lighting Design…………………. Jon Lewis
Sound Design……………………. Ian James
Stage Manager………………….. Howard James
ASM (Book)……………………….. Ian Wathen
Stage Director……………………. Ian Saunders
Set construction………………… Adrian Pope, Ian Saunders, T62 members
Set Décor…………………………. Adrian Pope & T62 members
Technical Operators…………… Chloe Belgrave, James Quinn
Technical Support……………… Andrew Herbert
Costumes………………………… Margaret Uzzell, Diana Quinn
Properties………………………… Lynne Craig
Prompt……………………………. Jan Stockwell
Piano……………………….……… Alec Raemers
House Manager…………………. John Heather
Refreshments……………………. Lynne Craig & T62 members
Raffle………………………………. Nikki Packham
Box Office………………………… Gillian Swinge
Poster & Programme Design & Editor…………. Graham Copeland

Review by Theo Spring

“Written by Sue Townsend of Adrian Mole fame, Bazaar and Rummage is a bitter-sweet comedy about three agoraphobics, bravely moving from the almost permanent safety of their homes to help with a jumble sale, devised and run by the person who, it seems, also runs their lives.

Laughter lines, of which there are many, are dotted with insights into their lives and the reasons for their self-imposed incarceration, giving rise to the more serious moments of the play. None is more of a contrast than the ebullient and foul-mouthed Margaret who hasn’t been outside on her own since the birth of her son, twenty-five years ago. Reprising her role as Margaret from another local production in 2018, Mary-Rose Goodliffe once again delivered this funny, rude, outgoing character who turned inward to poignantly reveal her rape in her family home, whilst her mother was making Yorkshire pudding in the kitchen downstairs. He son was conceived and her outgoing character was dealt a serious, constraining blow. Revealing these two diverse characters was skilled acting indeed.

Gwenda is the lady in charge of both the event and the lives of the agoraphobics. Initially appearing as a strong, helpful social worker, Christine Lever built into her delivery the painfulness of Gwenda’s own life, dedicated to caring for and controlling her father until his death. At which point she sought others to control and found the agoraphobic self-help group, each of whom speak to each other on the phone but who had not met until the rummage sale. Here again, the contrast of the character was emphasised, with reminiscing about her daddy at odds with her bossiness as she told the others exactly what to do with underlined clarity. Her ‘happy song’ for the spoilt and lazy Katrina was an amusing addition by the director but continued for too long, albeit in the background, and distracted from the dialogue front of stage.

Sharon Hawkes’ Katrina was an outrageous character. Now unable to even help lift a table, she had been spoilt by her partner Maurice, who does absolutely everything for her, except cream her elbows. The unseen Maurice is the other controlling factor in her life and with her complete inability to step outside the house, it is hard to reconcile her previous life performing on stage to a huge audience. Emphasising Katrina’s reliance on both Maurice and Gwenda, Sharon Hawkes managed to make the two parts of Gwenda’s life believable, speaking of her time on stage with such fervour.

The third acrophobic is Bell Bell to whom Claire Morris gave the underlying determination to slowly make strides out of her prison. Actually called Isobel, her nickname was Gwenda’s invention and it riled her. Throughout the play, it is Bell Bell who adds hopeful comments about being able to reconnect with a life, after the death of her husband, which has kept her inside. An able pianist, her interlude on the piano was skilfully co-ordinated by the technical operators Chloe Belgrave and James Quinn to a Sound Design by Ian James. Alec Raemers deserves credit as the actual pianist.

On a learning curve at the event and a character of sound common sense, Charlotte Worker’s Fliss is a trainee Social Worker who, although overseen by Gwenda, has her own no nonsense ideas about how to treat the three ‘patients’ and how to help them escape their enclosed world. She not only encourages them to take the first few small steps outside the door on their own but enthuses about the fun transformation of Margaret from out of her shell suit into My Way, one of Katrina’s stage gowns. The makeover was beautifully achieved and very effective.

In a ‘blink and you miss her’ role, Jan Stockwell added the policewoman who came into the church hall where the rummage sale was set, as a brief refuge from being uncomfortably out on the streets instead of safely at a desk at the police station.

Director Janet Clark had chosen to add songs to the production, which did not necessarily enhance, but her hard and thoughtful work with the cast produced the diverse characters which together told a story full of comedy, underlined with sadness.”