Thursday 24th April to Saturday 26th April and Wednesday 30th April to Saturday 3rd May 2014
Directed by Robin Hall and Paul Millington
America's premier comic playwright gives you 4 hilarious one-act comedies, all set in the same suite of a deluxe London hotel... a sedate place until these characters check in!
Settling Accounts: BRIAN is a successful writer; BILLY is his manager and handles his money. After taking little interest in what happens to his money for some years, Brian has discovered all is not as it should be and confronts Billy face to face.
Going Home: LAUREN and her mother SHERYL are in London shopping. Lauren is attempting to persuade Sheryl to spend their last night in Europe on a date with an English gentleman with whom they have struck up an acquaintance.
Diana and Sidney: DIANA is a successful TV actress, on a promotional tour of Europe to promote a hit series in which she is starring. While in London, she meets with SIDNEY, her ex-husband, who lives on Mykonos (a Greek island) with a younger man. Sidney has come to ask her for money, and although it is some time since they were married, there remains a good deal of affection between them.The Man on the Floor: MARK and ANNIE are in London to go to Wimbledon, but cannot find their precious tickets. Things go from bad to worse when Mark's back seizes up and he is immobilised, only for the hotel's Associate Manager to arrive to inform them they have been given the wrong suite, and must move to make way for Kevin Costner.
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
Diana and Sidney:
The Man on the Floor:
|Mrs Sitgood||Sarah Parnell|
|Dr McMerlin||Jaspar Utley|
|Pilot (voice)||John Ash|
|Directors||Robin Hall and Paul Millington|
|Producers||Robin Hall and Paul Millington|
|Stage Manager||Stuart Reilly|
|Assistant Stage Managers||The Cast|
|Lighting Design||Jessi Wilson|
|Sound Design||Sarah Parnell|
|Lighting Operation||Jessi Wilson|
|Sound Operation||Roger Wallsgrove|
|Set Design||Thomas Hall|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
It's been a while since either of us directed anything, and we'd been toying with various ideas for some time, including the possibility of putting on a show together, having done so previously with 'The Vagina Monologues'. The Bench is a director-led company and directors are usually inspired by plays - and it took a while for the right play to come along. Fortunately, London Suite is a really good play, crafted by a talented writer. It is interesting, thought-provoking, touching and (best of all) made us laugh, with the added bonus that it could easily be split between two directors. We pitched it to the company and found they agreed with us that it would be a great show to offer our audience.
Something this well written is relatively easy to turn into a show, especially when you have managed to get a good team of people together. As so often happens, there are a lot of people within the company who have helped to make everything happen, particularly on the less glamorous side of theatre from putting the programme together to coming up with a design to realise the interior of a luxury hotel suite on what is a relatively small stage... not to mention turning up at 8am on Easter Sunday to build the thing. Many thanks to all of them!
Our enthusiasm for the piece has endured the process of pitching, rehearsing and staging the play, and this is in no small part due to the dedication, hard work and goodwill of the actors who have brought the characters to life. Although the pieces are not long, the characters and their situations are often complex and it has taken a good deal of thought, effort and energy to make them believable and likeable. Keeping the humanity of the people, the humour of the writing and a consistent 'vibe' to the whole play has not been easy, and we know we have been pretty demanding over the last few months. All we can say in our defence is that we believe what you see on the stage is absolutely worth it, and we hope it delights, entertains, inspires and engages you as much as it has us.
So again, a warm welcome to London Suite ... we hope you enjoy your stay!
Robin Hall and Paul Millington (Co-Directors)
PS: London Suite was written in 1996, and set in what was then the present day. The world hasn't changed much since, but no doubt the stories here would unfold a little differently today, not least because mobile phones would be a lot more readily available now than they were 18 years ago.
The acclaimed Bench Theatre are currently performing American playwright Neil Simon's amusing "London Suite". A foursome of one act plays each set in a luxury hotel suite. The four sets of characters straddle Simon's familiar themes of love, fidelity, loss and betrayal.
The opening act was a two-hander "Settling Accounts" starring Bench stalwarts David Penrose (Brian) and Mark Wakeman (Billy). Billy has managed the financial affairs for some years for his friend Brian, a successful writer, but all is not as it should be. Brian threatens his 'grand master of finance' who feeds him a catalogue of questionable decisions leading to Brian's admission that he now retrospectively hates his overseer. A female duo conclude the first half of the evening with "Going Home". Mother and daughter are spending their last night in London and daughter Lauren is desperate to encourage her mother to start dating again. Sue Dawes (Sheryl) gives a highly entertaining account of her disastrous date and a strong performance too from Liz Brown (Lauren) playing her empathetic daughter.
The second half begins with "Diana and Sidney". She is a successful TV actress on a promotional tour, meeting up with her ex husband who now lives with a younger man on a Greek island. His purpose for the rendezvous is to ask for money whereas she on the other hand still has strong feelings for him and is hoping for a rekindling of their affections. Sarah Parnell is eminently watchable and excels as the affluent glamorous Diana. The final act is "The Man on the Floor" a comical farce based around Mark and Annie's lost Wimbledon tickets. A standout performance from Jo Langfield as volatile and vocal Annie with fine support from Chris Vanstone the hapless (Mark) and Jaspar Utley (Dr McMerlin).
The writer's skill coupled with accomplished direction from the partnership of Robin Hall and Paul Millington vividly captured the character's emotional engagement. A fresh and imaginative production of these engrossing tales and immensely enjoyed as usual by a near capacity audience.