The Chichester Players are offering up Ayckbourn for Christmas with a production of Sir Alan’s A Chorus of Disapproval.
Performances will be from Wednesday-Friday, December 3-5 at Chichester’s New Park Centre (tickets from the Chichester Cinema at New Park box office).
Directing the show will be Chichester Players’ stalwart Gill Montgomery, the latest adventure in a long and happy association with the company.
“I came to Chichester in 1977, and the first thing I did was join the Players. I have done drama since the age of 12 which is more years than I care to remember!
“I have done several Ayckbourn plays, and I do like his style. I love his humour and his insight. I do think he writes well for women. He seems to have a good insight inside their subconscious mind. I do think he has a good understanding of the female slant on things!
“A Chorus of Disapproval is one that I have not seen done much. A lot of his plays have very difficult staging for amateurs, with boats and rivers and swimming pools and things beyond, or you are chasing around between three theatres!
“But this one is about an amateur operatic society that are staging The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay. The background story is a lonely chap that has come to join them, and it follows the rehearsal process.
“There is some singing involved, but The Beggar’s Opera was written with traditional folk songs like country dance music. It was an antidote to Italian opera which had really become tremendously popular, even with Italian sopranos coming to blows on the stage because of the different factions they had following them! They were like some kind of super pop stars.”
The lonely chap who joins the company is Guy, Gill explains: “He has lost his wife, and he has had a period of mourning. He is a very pleasant chap and wants to get on with everybody, but his problem is he can’t say no to anything. He gets involved in some fairly-unscrupulous land deals and some illicit sex, and all because he can’t say no. He doesn’t want to offend anybody. He just wants to make friends, but he gets himself involved in all sorts of problems.”
With Ayckbourn, Gill believes, the key is to play it for the realism: “His humour is that he makes us laugh at what we are like as human beings really. There are some moments of physical humour, but really he makes us laugh wrily at ourselves, thinking ‘Yes, that’s what we are like!’”
Gill has acted and directed alike down the years and has also enjoyed plenty of success at West Dean Gardens with New Theatre Productions during their annual summer double bill.
“With directing, I like seeing it all coming together. You do feel sometimes when you see them all on the stage you would like to be up there with them, but really it is very rewarding to see everything come together on stage.”