Dee Sharpe was kind enough to send us this review of the Hurst production! (Contains some spoilers!)
Bridge to Farce started life as a one-act play, written by Paul Ruse and Richard Willis and was performed by Cuckfield Dramatic Society in 2015. It was so successful the playwrights decided to turn it into this well constructed three act play. The resulting farce, expertly directed by Sophie Bradshaw, is stuffed full of comic confusions, rib tickling one liners and riotous antics; and had the audience (a full house) laughing uproariously throughout.
Two disparate events are taking place on the same evening at similar addresses. Bossy, ambitious Tory councillor, Margaret Nicol-Stevens and her long-suffering husband Norman are holding a bridge party. Dope smoking George Collins and sexy, pole dancing wife Zoe are holding a ‘swingers’ party.
Wide boy Barry and dim but game girlfriend Angie arrive at the Nicol-Stevens, while strait laced bridge players Edward and Charlotte arrive at the Collins,’ both couples expecting a very different game from the one on offer.
As more characters join the pandemonium – a vicar into photography, an invisible goat, another local councillor, a drug dealer and a horsewoman; the misunderstandings escalate and culminate in a hilarious visual gag and the arrival of the local PC. This leads to more hilarity, mayhem and a strange kind of justice.
It is rare to attend a play where the actors have been so perfectly cast that they are completely believable in the role that they play. Philip Robinson was perfect as the bumbling, hen pecked, passively rebellious Norman, and Hazelle Woodhurst magnificent as snooty, domineering, politically ambitious Margaret Nicol-Stevens.
Every actor gave a superb performance and their characterisation, interacting and timing was faultless, culminating in a hugely entertaining play.
The comic gems were prolific and impossible to list, but I particularly enjoyed Jaba Bowman’s portrayal of PC Lilley being scary, Paul Ruse as Barry coming on to an askance Margaret Nicol Stevens (Hazelle Woodhurst) and Peter Bowman’s Prosser, taking a selfie.
The sets reflected the personality of the couples, effectively drawing the audience into their world. The Nicol Stevens lounge complete with bridge table, had some clever touches such as election boards with Margaret Nicol Stevens and Sir Gerald Farquar and a picture of Margaret Thatcher on the wall.
The Collins’ living room also had couch and coffee table but also a dancing pole for Zoe and artistic images, including a sketched nude on the wall.
The costumes included comic touches such as the shiny grey synthetic wig that the reverend wore, a crazy curly red headed wig that transformed Margaret Nicol Stevens and a skin tight black PVC outfit for swinger Zoe.
Finding flaws in this performance was like hunting for a typo in the Tory manifesto! The only things I spotted were were a couple of brief lighting glitches and momentarily mislaid lines which the actor found again, before anyone noticed!
This gifted cast and crew should feel very proud of themselves for being part of this outstanding Farce. Next stop Brighton Festival, Edinburgh Festival, West End…..?