Thursday 16th July to Saturday 18th July and Tuesday 21st July to Saturday 25th July 1998
Directed by Mark Wakeman
Andy loves Jo. Jo loves Andy. Pippa loves Gavin. Gavin loves his work. Bob loves himself. Patty doesn't love herself. Lee will love anyone. Seven people, one office, one wild party.
It's Christmas time in the office and a year's worth of tension is about to be released in a frenzy of lust, drink and photocopiers. Join us as we tackle this comedy from one of the finest comedy writers of the moment. John Godber is the man behind the phenomenally successful 'Bouncers' and the feature film 'Up and Under'.
This play was written in 1992 and is set in the offices of Chapman & Howard, a small marketing firm, just before the annual Christmas party. From the opening moments, when the first eager few have arrived to kick off the celebrations of clinching a prestigious and lucrative account, we see the growing sense of both professional and personal frustrations among the copywriters, accountants, graphic artists, secretaries and the managing director himself as everyone tries to get into the party spirit, all the time misreading body language and other signals, culminating in a party night they'd all rather forget. Just who will show their face tomorrow - and more important, who won't - or will they simply let the photocopier's record of the evening speak for itself? The Office Party offers a hilariously funny yet poignant exploration of just exactly why.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Stage Managers||Phil Chapman |
|Assistant Stage Manager||David Street|
|Lighting and Sound Operation||Ingrid Corrigan |
|Poster Design||Pete Woodward|
|Front of House||Carol Younghusband|
The first Bench production I ever took part in was 'Martin Chuzzlewit' in 1990. That was during my time at Havant College. I was very sad when I had to leave the company to go to university in London and always thought that I would one day like to return.
At university I performed in numerous productions, including a show which was taken to the Edinburgh Festival. Yet, during this time, I never worked with a company that was as friendly and professional as the Bench. So I was overjoyed when, on coming back, I found that nothing much had changed. It was still the same dedicated group I remembered with fondness.
At university I first sampled the delights - and horrors - of directing and some wild impulse made me decide to put forward a show here. I have always been a huge fan of comedy, with my tastes ranging far and wide, from Laurel and Hardy to Will Hay, to the more recent 'Blackadder' and 'Father Ted'. I knew that my first show for the Bench would have to be a comedy, for the simple fact that the Bench does comedy very, VERY well - both on and off stage!
The decision to perform a John Godber play was easy. He is one of the most talented and popular playwrights currently working in this country and although the show is very funny, it also has moments of pure drama that allow the actors to run through their full range. As an actor myself, I always like to be stretched and this play contains roles that actors can really get their teeth into. The play is therefore a challenge for the actors, switching back and forth from drama to comedy, and for me, as a director, easing that transition for you, the audience; helping you to decide whether you want to laugh or cry.
This has been the most enjoyable cast and crew to work with, backed by a superb script and a mountain of enthusiasm. I hope that you enjoy the show as much as we do.
Much of the talk is of sex. But John Godber's comedy of bumptious behaviour on the photocopier ends not with a bang but with a whimper. Although coarser in tone and language than Ayckbourn, Godber can be just as sharp in uncovering human vulnerability.
Mark Wakeman, in his Bench Theatre directing debut, achieves impressive naturalness from his cast with well-varied pace and effortless changes of mood - making this one of the company's most successful productions. All seven actors contribute significantly in this ensemble piece, but Peter Woodward is master of the lunging leer as Bob, and Sally Hartley is outstanding as the buttoned-up, unbuttoning Patty. Comedy and pathos are inseparable in her tottering walk, her sense of sometimes being only half there, and her droll delivery.
But the play stands or falls on the character of Andy, a decent sort whose work ethic causes grief at home which in turn causes his eyes and thoughts to wander. Here Mike Hickman is consistently credible in speech and movement - his best Bench performance yet.
The News, 17th July 1998