REVIEW: The Man Who Came to Dinner, Southwick Players

Amy Bowyer as Miss Preen with Bill Griffiths as Sheridan Whiteside
Amy Bowyer as Miss Preen with Bill Griffiths as Sheridan Whiteside

If Alexander Woollcott was writing this review, it would no doubt be rather vitriolic.

He would probably find much to criticise in Southwick Players' production of The Man Who Came to Dinner, a play written as a vehicle of the great radio personality by his friends Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.

In truth, while one could nitpick, there was not much to find fault with in this Christmas comedy at the Barn Theatre in Southwick on Saturday night.

It is a whopper of a play and there was a cavalry charge of big names to fill the cast of 19.

It gave the Players' great character actors a chance to shine and brought in some new names, too.

H Reeves was in his element as Beverley Carlton, as was Ron Common in the role of Banjo, with a nod to Harpo Marx.

Amy Bowyer bore the brunt of some pretty nasty remarks as the nurse Miss Preen but got her own back with a brilliant put-down speech before storming off stage.

Less dramatic but equally impressive was Louise Yeo as Maggie Cutler, the role Bette Davis played in the 1942 film.

Making her debut was Jacqueline Harper, who had an easier time with the American accent than everyone else since she hails from The States. She clearly thoroughly enjoyed playing glamorous vamp Lorraine Sheldon.

It is a very clever, very funny and slightly bonkers play which went down well with the audience, although some seemed a little confused by the second, five-minute interval.

Holding it all together throughout was Bill Griffiths as the irascible Sheridan Whiteside - he gave a brilliant performance in a huge role.