‘Anyone for Breakfast?’ is a frenetic farce, written in 1998 by Bradford born playwright, Derek Benfield. As well as being one of the UK’s leading comedy writers, Derek played Hetty’s long suffering husband in the BBC series, ‘Hetty Wainwright Investigates‘. The latest presentation by the Rockingham Theatre Company can be seen at The Castle, Rockingham Theatre, 8 Attwood Way, in Rockingham. This two-hour show can be seen each Friday and Saturday at 8.00 pm until 7th April, and you can always be sure of a warm welcome.
The Scene: A winter’s evening in 1980, in the living room of Gilbert and Shirley’s English country house, in a smart area of rural southern England.
The set: As always at the ‘Castle Theatre’, the standard of the scenery was top notch. The sumptuous sitting room, as with all good farces, had numerous white doorways to aid with the confusion. The walls are a light chestnut colour with an attractive white, double dado rail. There are three steps leading to an enclosed staircase, a three-seater settee, and various tables. At the rear of the room are patio doors, with lace curtains and light tan drapes. The fine set was designed and constructed by David Heckingbottom, Peter Scarrott, Danny Joyce and Callum Leam. Many congratulations. The show was smoothly staged managed by Summer Allen and Daniel Thompson. India Allen and Jackie Hiscox shared the excellent lighting and sound design and operation.
Attractive, middle-aged Jane (Cherry Allen) is a nervous, introverted woman who is losing out on ‘loving attention’ from her husband, Roger (Danny Joyce). So, on the suggestion of her best friend, Shirley (Helen Brown), she arranges to have dinner with Mark (Kris Davis), a desirable younger man that she met at her squash club.
Because Shirley’s husband, Gilbert (Peter Scarrott) is in Germany on business, Shirley goes to her yoga class, allowing Jane to use her house for the secret assignation. Jane, wearing a low-cut, scarlet crushed velvet dress, has hot romance and anticipation in her eyes, but toy boy Mark thinks the meeting is for a simple meal.
However, a thick fog descends and Gilbert finds himself stranded in London. Knowing that his wife, Shirley, will be away at her keep-fit classes, he invites attractive air hostess, Helga (Helen Parish – brilliant) back to his house.
As the night of romance goes on, more people arrive, confrontations abound and the confusion heightens.
For years, David Heckingbottom has proven to be a first-class farce actor, and accomplished comedy director. This show, with the assistance of Callon Leam as co-director, was very good. The main actor, who is a superb comedy actor, unfortunately missed the farce delivery of being slightly stooped, and panic stricken. Bent in a self-defence position, as though being attacked in the street, is how farces are best delivered. The script is written in the ‘broken’ style to help this panic appearance. Standing upright to deliver this particular style of script – as one would in a standard comedy – can end up with the actor having trouble with his delivery, and even forgetting lines. Everyone was word perfect, and superbly rehearsed. Doors opened and closed perfectly as the characters just missed each other. Great timing. Plenty of laughs. A well written fun show, that was thoroughly enjoyed by the happy audience, who all joined in – without prompting – with Dean Martin’s version of ‘That’s Amore’ as the curtain rose.