WAITING FOR GOD was a BBC Sitcom that ran from 1990 to 1994 about two spirited residents of a retirement home, Tom and Diana, who spend their time running rings around the home’s oppressive management.
Its writer, Michael Aitkens, who was present at the performance I am reviewing, has adapted it as a highly amusing stage play, which, however, shows its TV origins in the number of brief scenes dovetailed together.
The play was presented as the first in Leatherhead Theatre’s Autumn weekly repertory season.
Emma Mulkern, as Jane, the frequently put-upon maid-of-all-work, was extremely successful in establishing her role, especially physically. She was the embodiment of this ‘mouse’ of a character often using hilarious facial expressions and body language, and got the most out of her dialogue. She lifted the production to a new level every time she appeared, especially in her exchanges with Harvey Bains (Samuel Lane), whom she almost worships!
As Tom, Edmund Dehn achieved the age and weariness of the character from the start, as well as that naughty streak, beautifully, and knew just how to time his lines to get maximum effect.
Hannah Brackstone-Brown effortlessly surveyed the role of Diana’s niece, especially in her scenes with her aunt when she discovered she was pregnant and wanted Diana to be present at the birth as her husband was in prison: very funny, but also poignant, as indeed is much of the writing in this play.
Claire Dyson (Diana), William Hazell (Geoffrey, Tom’s son), Keith Hill (Dennis, the vicar), and Clare Samuels (undertaker) all gave sterling support, even if one felt at times that some of their roles were underwritten.
The director, Larry Rew, is clearly experienced in directing comedy, and realised that pace was essential, especially in a play that is so episodic. Minor scene and costume changes were accomplished swiftly and aided the understanding and the undoubted humour of the evening. He was aided by a simple composite set designed by Tina Cammarota which the actors clearly found easy to use and looked good on the wide Leatherhead stage.
All in all a MOST enjoyable evening in the theatre. Both Hordernciani, the management company, and the directors of Leatherhead Theatre must be congratulated on bringing professional theatre back to the town after nearly thirty years. Hazel Vincent Wallace, the theatre’s dynamic founder and director, would have been very proud and I hope that all their efforts are rewarded by ‘full’ houses. For those who think that Leatherhead sounds a long way from London, it is twenty minutes from Waterloo, then ten minutes walk from Leatherhead station. Tickets are not expensive, and the town boasts some fine eateries of all types within walking distance of the theatre! So, no excuse!
The other two productions this season are The Railway Children, with a real steam train I understand! and Ayckbourn’s dark comedy Season’s Greetings. Highly recommended!
WAITING FOR GOD
by Michael Aitkens
From the writer of the hit TV sitcom comes this new, hilarious and touching stage adaptation. Diana and Tom navigate their latter years at the retirement home and handle the questionable management team.
Tuesday 6th to Saturday 10th November 7.30pm
(plus a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday)
In Rep with
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN MUSICAL
by Edith Nesbit adapted by Dave Simpson
Tuesday 13th & Wednesday 14th November 10.30am
Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th November 7.30pm
(plus a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday)
by Alan Ayckbourn
Tuesday 20th to Saturday 24th November 7.30pm
6th to 24th November 2018
Book tickets online or Telephone 01372 365141