Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hi-De-Hi! - People's Theatre - Review


Photographs by Paula Smart
People's Theatre
3rd Oct 2017

It's 1956 and holiday camps are the place to go for a fun filled family holiday. We are at Maplins, Crimpton-on-Sea, all set to be entertained by the team of Yellowcoats - under the watchful eye of Gladys Pugh.
The evening's entertainment starts even before we reach the auditorium, as smiling Yellowcoats greet us in the foyer bar and welcome us to Maplins, handing out "Guess the Baby" competition sheets and encouraging us to join in the games and activities later. On the tables there are invitations to  ballroom dancing demonstrations with Yvonne and Barry. It is all very nicely done and sets the mood for the play that is to come.

The stage is set on two levels - at the back, raised up, is Mr Fairbrother's office, business-like with its desk and telephones, while at the front we have holiday camp itself, complete with striped beach hut style entrances leading off stage to "staff only" areas. This area is transformed from staff room to Hawaiian Ballroom with a roll of a tea-trolley or Peggy's cleaning cart. And of course in one corner we have Gladys's office, complete with microphone for the P A system and the glockenspiel. As we settle into our seats the music starts and the Yellowcoats enter. Gladys takes her seat, picks up the sticks, hits those three notes and says "Hello campers, Hi-de-Hi!" our half hearted Ho-de-Ho! is chastised in lilting welsh, "Oh, come on now, you can do better than that! Let's try again..."
This is it, the holiday has begun.

The play is a joy to watch, recreating on stage the characters so expertly drawn for television by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Rye Mattick is perfect as the simpering and smouldering Gladys Pugh, trying to attract the attention of Jeff Fairbrother, and the haughtiness as she bosses the other Yellowcoats - her body language and facial expressions are classic and will have you laughing out loud! Sean Burnside is equally perfect as the gauche and self conscious Jeffrey Fairbrother, like a fish out of water trying to cope with the demands of both his job as Entertainments Manager and as the object of Gladys's affections. His halting, stuttering delivery is quite brilliant. These two are the stars of the show, aided and abetted by the rest of the cast.

The Yellowcoats sparkle and smile, Barry and Yvonne (Gordon and Val Russell) snipe and carp their way gracefully across the dance floor, Fred Quilly (Andrew De'ath) and Mr Partridge (Mike Smith) grumble and argue, while Ted and Spike (Jack Thompson and Paul Gaitsell) keep us entertained with bad jokes and terrible contests, and Peggy (Alison Carr) cleans the chalets and dreams of becoming a Yellowcoat.

It's funny, warm, lighthearted comedy in a production that is true to the original in every sense - the only thing missing is the Olympic sized swimming pool.

It runs until Sat 7th October and is perfect light entertainment.

Denise Sparrowhawk

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