Outside Edge

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich


There is no doubt about it, Richard Harris has a wicket sense of humour.

First the Test Match Special tune. Then half the scratch 11 starts turning up. Pavilioned in something short of splendour, Gareth Stewardson fumes and threats, strutting his stuff as the captain of this motley band in preparation for the epic contest.

The game's the thing, and the team spirit too, of course. But how can you start the one until you have got the other? And how do you bring that to the boil when everybody arrives for the match with his bag of personal problems. One silly point gets raised after another.

And then there are the women. Ayshea Cristian is the devoted caterer until she thinks of leaving, but that's only a storm in a teacup. As Sharon, Charlotte Evans is a maiden in distress, while Angela Rowe reveals there are better ways to spend a sunny afternoon than running about in white.

Mandi Goodbody brings the accents of Janet Street-Porter to an earthier role. The best cheer of the evening rose as she hit a solicitor for six, after smothering the slow bowler in motherly affection.

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The final score? In this umpire's opinion a distinct win for director Peter James and a strong cast playing on a set designed by tireless Angela Rowe to make a fine end of the Sewell Barn season. The fixture list for the next 12 months looks promising too.

Christopher Smith