See How They Run - by
Philip King
14th, 15th, 16th January 2010

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Cast        Production Team
Ida, a maid Sophie Robertson   Director Sue Cole
Miss Skillon Lisa Mathews   Production Assistant Eileen Stock
The Reverend Lionel Toop Martin Howarth   Stage Manager Christie Drew
Penelope Toop, his wife Liz Adams   Assistant Stage Manager Richard Foster
Lance Corporal Clive Winton Howard Platt   Properties Christine Watson
The Intruder Tom Donoghue   Assistant Properties Sarah Riches
The Bishop of Lax Andrew Rogers   Continuity Wendy Butler
The Reverend Arthur Humphrey Matthew Cole   Costume Christine Eckley
Sergeant Towers Foster Barnett   Set Design & Construction Stephen Radley
      Lighting Design Terry Tew
      Sound Design Anne Satchwell
      Sound/Lighting Operation Mark Drew
      Programme Design Howard Platt
      Production Photos Garry Cooper

Review by Margaret Godfrey

A very good choice of play, just what we needed for this time of year. My heart went out to you when just the week before the weather was very cold and it must have been a real pain trying to get to rehearsals. So glad that things improved in that direction and you had a good audience turn out. 

A brave choice for amateurs – farce is the hardest area of theatre to pull off successfully – and you did it! A couple of wobbly bits here and there, but I did see it on the first night, so I am sure by Saturday it was perfect.

I think audiences are very comfortable with this form of entertainment. They don’t have to think to deeply about the characters or plot, which in this play is quite intricate but of actual little importance. It is laid out in formulaic fashion. Lots of doors, cupboards, vicars, mistaken identity and underwear, and of course much rushing about! Best described as a mixture of Noises off and Dad’s Army.


Let me begin by saying how very much I enjoyed the evening - it was a very funny and 'hands on' production. And by hands on there was certainly a lot of body contact and plenty of man and woman handling that went on, the cast must have got to know one another very well indeed! 

I was delighted to see that Sue Cole was in charge  - a sure hand on the tiller and you had a complete understanding of what 'farce' is all about. It was very well staged with the many complex moves to work out, with timing being of the essence! This must have been drilled into the cast as it was spot on. With your 9 stock characters you wrung out every bit of humour from each of them. And there were plenty of opportunities for  'business' . There were some more than over the top moments here and there, but with the nature of the play it's to be expected, in fact, it's to be demanded. The obvious enjoyment of the night was proved by all the laughter from the audience which was in bucketfuls. I had tears in my eyes at one point when Ida was doing marvellous things with her head trying to get Penelope's attention - priceless! And the chase scene.....need I say more!!!

Also with your experience you know how important diction and projection is and the actors came up trumps - I heard every word.

In fact I heard almost too much at the beginning of play when Penelope was squawking off stage to such great effect that I had difficulty hearing what the actors were saying, so it was hardly surprising when Miss Skillon wanted her to shut up. I felt that once Penelope had established her deliberate loudness it just needed to be turned down a bit.

Another small point was that a couple times characters re-acted a bit too soon to the line that hadn't yet been said. We've all been guilty of that from time to time as we know the play, but we have to pretend that we don't, and it's particularly important in a comedy.  And finally - telephone conversations. The character has to relay to the audience what is being said on other end of the line,. To make it believable you have to leave time for the imaginary person to actually have conveyed the message. Everyone was guilty who used the phone.

However apart from those minor points - it was a triumph. So many congratulations on a very successful production. 


I liked the few moments after the lights came up for the audience to take in the stage, nice touch. It was well dressed with plenty of room for action. I particularly liked the working grandfather clock. THE most important thing on the set are the doors – they have to be perfect and the actors HAVE to know which way they open and close – otherwise you’re b*ggered, I think the appropriate phrase is!

It definitely felt like a forties living room - down to the taped French windows to indicate that a war was on. Key in the French windows? A little nit picky - but I did notice it, and the front of the stairs could have done with a coat of paint or carpet - they looked a little scruffy - but minor points indeed.

Sound and Lighting

Lighting was nice and straightforward, well lit with no nasty shadows - we could see everyone. and with the sound again nothing too complex - the 'phone, door and church bells - all on time. The bells were rather loud, but you were right next to the church so that was acceptable. I only mention this as so often in amateur productions sound effects are far too loud to be believable.


Well organised. Everything appeared to be in the right places when the actors needed them. The tea trolley, poker, gun, drinks bottles all arrived on time and the set looked good and was well dressed.


Well done Christine and as I would expect from you. Everyone looked the part. Several Vicars outfits and you were practically done! More complicated than that I know. The girls looked good in their period outfits. I loved Miss Skillon’s satin bloomers, and you wisely hired the soldiers costume. And what wonderfully bright white undies!

Backstage Crew and Prompt

Mercifully, no big scene changes - everything seemed to go smoothly and only one or two hiccups when Wendy' services were required. So a good job done by all the behind the scenes bods.


Ida   Sophie Robertson
What a great character to play. She was lively, intelligent and fun - you were smashing, handling mini crises without it affecting your stride i.e. the top coming off the food cover and your hat slipping off - you just carried on like a good trouper! You looked great, moved well and as I mentioned early had me in tears of laughter with your comical head movements and woman-handling of Miss Skillon around the stage in and out of the cupboard. You are a very good actress with a flair for comedy.

Miss Skillon   Lisa Mathews
Well Lisa - what an old bag she was - and you played her with great relish! Your marvellous face screwed up with disapproval one moment then wide eyed with shock the next, you must have very flexible facial muscles! I must say that when you were punched for the first time I think the audience and I thought - good that'll shut 'er up for a while (but for the best possible reasons!). Playing drunk is always difficult, so you went it for it big time, over the top, large gestures, big leg movements and delightful drawers - a most enjoyable performance.

Rev Lionel Toop   Martin Howarth
A stalwart of the LADS and still going strong. Although, not to be rude to your character, why Penelope fell for the vicar only she knows! You really came into your own once you shed most of your clothes! Excellent chase scene in your brilliant white undies, very brave, particularly when you just got down to your shorts - an energetic, funny and solid performance. Thank you.

Penelope Toop   Liz Adams
A sparkling performance from you Liz. You know your stagecraft and you were a joy to watch. A sure and steady rendition as the kingpin of this play. You had command of your character and gave your all. There was great chemistry between you and Clive (Howard) a believable relationship in a ludicrous story. Very good comic timing, you had me in fits several times. Being caught rolling round on the floor when Miss Skillon comes upon you was just one of them. You have excellent comic style and delivered a delightful part.

L/Corp Clive Winton   Howard Platt
For me this was an outstanding performance, you had great confidence as this character, your line delivery were spot on throughout the play with excellent take up on all your cue lines. You looked great and why Penelope never married you is truly puzzling! Your stage presence was further enhanced by having some of the funniest lines and action - I loved the chase scene and everyone jumping over Miss Skillon, and then jumping over her when she wasn't even there! Hilarious. Thank you for making me laugh so much. 

The Intruder   Tom Donoghue
Vell done jungen man, Das war sehr gut. Well that's about all the German I can muster! I am sure that studying episodes of 'ello 'ello was part of the fun playing this stock German character and delivered everything the audience expects from this type of part. I thought you looked rather good as a vicar as well as a Nazi, and of course when you were questioned, true to form in this kind of play, nobody noticed your heavy German accent!  Much dashing about with aplomb and zest. Well done.

The Bishop of Lax   Andrew Rogers
As soon as you came on stage I knew we were going to be in for some fun. You looked believable as a bishop in your clerical togs and gaiters. I have always enjoyed your performances and you didn't let me down. The poor bishop was hoodwinked and confused time and again, and you too were involved in the chase - the highlight of the play, and you too handle comedy very well and your timing also was sport on. A lovely character performance.

Rev Arthur Humphrey   Matthew Cole
This chap was a naive, rather stuffy and proper young man thrown into this bizarre household. Much of your delivery was facing out to the house, clutching our hands together in a fretful way. One of the best laughs of the night was your double take when you first came on during much commotion, and a lot of the time your were like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming car - a nice lightness of touch to your comedy. Another good performance.

Sergeant Towers   Foster Barnett
I have had the pleasure of seeing Foster in a variety of characters over the years and it looks like you loved every moment of this one! You reminded me of a policeman you see on seaside postcards! Bluff and gregarious, typical 'character' policeman voice was spot on for this play and of course you were as confused by the situation as everyone else - loved the bicycle clips, but as a sergeant and knowing the attention to detail from the costume department, you only had two stripes on your upper sleeve. However this turned out just to be a wee mistake – to nay bother! Anyway - lovely character performance.


I hope you had as much fun performing as I did watching. I know how much hard work and effort goes into producing a play, as I have appeared in and directed several in my time and let alone a farce which requires even more concentration than the average play to make it look effortless. I would have loved to have see it again.

So once again thank you for putting on a successful and very funny play and all I can do now is wish you well for your next production.