REVIEW: Hysterical mayhem at Blyth Players’ family funeral

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I don’t normally roar with laughter at funerals. But Blyth Players’ latest comedy was an exception, and the whole room was with me.

Blyth Players’ latest play One O’Clock From The House, follows three sisters after their father’s sudden death.

Miriam, Margaret and Maureen scheme and squabble over every detail of the funeral - how much to spend on ‘the spread’, who will look after their loopy sister Mavis, and who will get the house?

The comedy by Frank Vickery, directed by Deborah Pickwell, is cleverly set in the 1980s, in Miriam’s living room.

It looked homely and authentic, complete with three piece suite, sideboard and record player.

Miriam (Jeanette Adams) is stressed-out mum of punky teen Josey (Lucy Greaves, who co-directed the play).

Miriam is thrilled to read a letter from her late father which bequeaths ‘everything’ to her.

But later we discover Miriam is not the only sister with such a letter - their dad had one last comic card to play. And it turns sibling rivalry into all-out sibling warfare.

Jeanette had an astonishing 527 lines in this play, and she delivered them admirably, maintaining Miriam’s close-to-the-edge composure.

She is worlds apart from her prim shopkeeper sister Maragaret (Judith Earle) and the loud, perma-pregnant Maureen (Sharon Hughes).

The chemistry and tension between these three was played out to great effect with some cutting one-liners.

The sisters’ husbands Austin (Michael Pearce), Desmond (Andrew Robinson) and Hugh (Malcolm Pike) added a very funny extra dimension to the fraught family.

But the mayhem of the funeral was enhanced by an extended family of hilarious characters The play came alive with them all on stage during the wake scenes.

My favourites among them were Mavis (Zena Robinson) whose unhinged, slapstick-esque part had the audience in pieces.

Welly wearing, bobble hat clad cousin Tudor (George Earle) and his dopey wife Avril (Deborah Pickwell) were a very funny pairing.

And toothless Mansel with his pet shopping trolley was the icing on the comedy cake.

Nine-year-old Brandon Moore must also get a mention for his first appearance with Blyth players as Maureen’s cheeky son Rupert.

And even production manager Barry Pickwell made an appearance as Sydney Braithwaite, forced to explain an unfortunate mix-up at Mavis’ psychiatric home.

Another brilliant night’s entertainment from Blyth Players - I have come to expect nothing less from this award-winning troupe.

Hayley Gallimore