A Garden Fete

Eye Theatre

To be dressed as a gorilla on a warm September night was truly a feat of endurance for Richard Mainwaring, making a record 29th appearance at Eye. This popular actor had so many changes of costume and character in this wonderfully funny play that he must have felt he had run the marathon.

There could have been no greater contrast between Lionel, the laid-back school caretaker with an eye for the ladies, Toby, the irascible and often inebriated headmaster, and Joe, Toby's disabled father and would-be poet.

Mainwaring coped brilliantly with each characterisation, well matched by Krystal Archer who proved equally competent in her dual role as Sylvie the cleaner and Celia the headmaster's wife.

The story begins in the garden of the headmaster's house in the grounds of Bilbury Lodge Preparatory School, where Lionel is asked to carry out improvements. He appears more interested in chatting up Celia and Sylvie and urges the younger girl to model herself more on the older woman. Sylvie's attempts at walking tall prove hilarious, but with the help of Toby she sets about improving herself.

After the interval the action moves to the vicarage garden where a fete is taking place. The hilarity continues with Sylvie in the stocks urging people to pelt her with wet sponges while Lionel prances around as a hairy gorilla.

This is one of the best plays in Alan Ayckbourn's “Intimate Exchanges” series and the hard working duo, directed by Tom Scott, ensured an entertaining night.