Make Way for Lucia

Sheringham Little Theatre

Sheringham Little Theatre

A comic tale of tittle-tattle and middle-class malice, much froth and little substance, the Sheringham Players have chosen a shallow play that is diverting enough but ultimately falls short on dramatic satisfaction.

Set in Tilling in the 1920s (a small town with a small-town mentality) John van Druten's play (produced on Broadway in 1948) is based on a series of 1930s books by E.F. Benson and features two strong female characters, Emmeline Lucas (pretentiously self-styled as Italian-speaking Lucia) and strait-laced Elizabeth Mapp (brought here to life with finely drawn performances from Janette Davidson and Joyce Harvey). Miss Mapp rules supreme in Tilling, until Lucia breezes into town with her bewigged friend and side-kick Pillson (Greg Pope) and sets the place and Major Benjy (a good performance from John Hodgkinson) well and truly a-flutter.

War breaks out when Lucia hosts a fund-raising garden party and Miss Mapp takes charge of the local art exhibition.

There is plot and counter-plot, much gossiping and snooping amongst the locals, with lots of fun along the way, then a long-drawn-out and implausibly happy ending.

Directed and produced by June Cooper, it all looked good and was pretty well received by the first-night audience.

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All I can say is that I wish the Sheringham Players had chosen better.

But, as they say in Tilling: 'au reservoir' and 'toodle-loo'.

t The play continues until Saturday, June 23.

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