Thursday 13th to Saturday 16th September 2023
Directed by Members of the Company
Four pairs of characters; Four crucial moments
Jonathan and Wendy are on a blind date and hoping to get it right this time even though they've never got it right before; Barrie is not really interested in women but Janet sees that as no reason to stop trying; Shelley and Bobby have decided to holiday in Spain to finalise their divorce whilst drowning in cocktails; Angela is marrying for the third time to the dismay of her brother Toby and amidst a barrage of bad omens and a dress resembling a parachute.
Duets is a hilarious tribute to the strength and madness of the human heart.
The video trailer for this show can be found on YouTube at DUETS by Peter Quilter.
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Director for Blind Date||Alex Eels|
|Director for Secretarial Skills||Bernadette Lomas|
|Director for The Holiday||Pete Woodward||Director for The Bride-to-be||Callum West|
|Stage Manager||Paul Millington|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Di Coates & Di Wallsgrove|
|Lighting Design||Roger Niven|
|Sound Design||Paul Millington|
|Lighting Operation||Mark Wakeman|
|Sound Operation||Beth Howard|
|Set Design||Pete Woodward|
|Set Construction||Julie Burt-Woods & Craig Parker|
|Flyer Design||Dan Finch|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Front of House Manager||Ingrid Corrigan|
I had not heard of Peter Quilter when I was given a copy of ‘Duets’ by my husband - chosen on the basis that it was a play about love - but I found it very funny. I was also charmed by his wonderfully human characters, and his affection for them; all eight of the people we meet are flawed, to some extent floundering and at times ridiculous, but his humour is never cruel and their view of the world remains endearingly hopeful in spite of their various predicaments.
Bench is a director-led company, and while I long considered whether to pitch it, I wavered. There still aren’t as many interesting, complicated, funny and sympathetic middle-aged female characters as I might like given that I am a middle-aged actress with a soft spot for feel-good theatre. That changed when I realised that the structure of the play would lend itself very easily to inviting other people to direct it. I was delighted when the company approved the idea, and some really excellent directors volunteered themselves. (Too many in fact - come back in November and see the rest in action then). Two of them are new to directing but you wouldn’t have been able to tell in the rehearsal room, and I doubt you will either from the audience.
I was very lucky that precisely 7 talented actors put themselves forward making casting the show very easy and giving me the opportunity to be in the show too. (My first thought was ‘gosh I’m lucky to be in such good company’, and my second was ‘I’m going to have to be at the top of my game here’). We also have a top class technical team supporting us during the development and performance doing all of the offstage stuff essential to bring the show to you tonight. This might be a very funny play without pretensions but I think it has moments of profound insight into the human condition. Its message, that we all have a fundamental need for connection, is something I think will chime with many people - as will the idea that we can laugh at ourselves and keep hoping for something more, whatever our circumstances.
It has made me laugh a great deal, and also made me think; I hope it will do the same for you.
Robin Hall (Producer)