Improbable Fiction, Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth, on until Saturday (November 17). Box office: 856548.
WHAT happens when members of a lacklustre writers’ group finally stop talking and start bringing their characters to life?
This Alan Ayckbourn play was written in 2005 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough - the playwright’s theatre of choice for the premiers of most of his prolific body of work before half of it heads off to the London stage.
In this play a motley crew of would-be writers gather at the home of cuddly instruction manual translater Arnold, played by Matthew Salisbury.
The First Act starts unexcitingly enough with sound, not especially exciting performances before our frst meeting with the explosive Bevis (David Draper). He’s a retired local teacher who intimidates most of his former pupils, especially sci-fi nerd Clem, played by Dan Gough, who appears to have rather an insecure grasp on grammar.
Then there’s the lesbian farmer (Sam Harris), who dreams of writing historic romantic novels; detective story fan Vivi (Rosemary Gowers) and timid Grace (Linda Connor), who’s taken so long to create a fairytale goblin that her children have grown up.
Finally there’s adoring, seemingly rational home helper Ilsa, played by Aurelia Storey, who thinks she’s not clever enough to join the group.
The scene is set - or so you think.
Truth is you’ve hardly digested your tub of interval ice cream before there’s American space rangers dashing about the stage using all the right words in the wrong places, poor orphans locked in the cellar, Victorian governesses, spendthrift wasters and smart-alec detectives being followed around by tearful sidekicks.
Only Matthew Salisbury is allowed to remain in perfectly-timed character while the rest of the cast swirls around him having the most terrific time along with the rest of the audience.
I particularly enjoyed Dan Gough’s range – and laughed out loud at his malapropisms – while on Tuesday night David Draper was slightly more patchy on some of his line deliveries - but no less fun for that.