‘Wife after Death’ is a tremendous laugh, written by Eric Chappell in 2011 when he was 77. The Lincolnshire born Chappell started work as an Electricity Board auditor, before becoming a playwright. He is best known for the classic TV series ‘Rising Damp’, which was adapted from his stage play ‘The Banana Box’. It won a BAFTA and the Evening Standard’s film award for ‘Best Comedy’.
At one time, he was the UK’s biggest writer of sitcoms; now at 87 yrs. old, Chappell is still undeniably one of the leading comedy writers in Britain today.
The Darlington Theatre Players are presenting the two-hour performances of this very funny show. It can be seen at 7.30 each Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road (off Greenmount Hill), Mundaring until Saturday 28th November. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm, on 15th and 22nd November.
With such a popular show and Covid limited seating, booking is advised.
The Scene: The present day, in the Thursby’s sitting room.
The Set: was designed and constructed by George Boyd. With help in the building from Adrian Ashman, Michael Hart, Richard Hadler, Robert warner and Bailey Fellows.
The set is a luxurious room with a grey carpeted floor leading up to French windows that open onto lawns. The walls are light latte, with a mahogany grained feature wall. The oak furniture comprises a drinks table and a large sideboard swamped with vases of flowers and dozens of sympathy cards. Two twin-seater grey Dankz settees are placed on the large central Axminster rug. In the rear centre of the room is an open casket with a spotlight on the deceased.
Lesley Sutton has been organising, sourcing and making props for community theatre for over 15 years.; once again the props were perfect, making the room look genuinely ‘lived in’.
The smooth stage management was by David Zuiddam and his assistant Belinda Beatty.
The lighting was designed by Michael Hart and operated by Brendan Tobin. The soundscape was designed and operated by George Boyd.
Dave Thursby, a highly popular TV comedian has died, and his friends are gathering in his lavish home for his private funeral service.
The first to arrive is Dave’s scriptwriter and best friend, a brash curmudgeon, Harvey (Richard Hadler) who has kept Dave on the top of the TV ratings for more than a decade. Dave and his long-suffering wife Vi (Jacqui Warner) are sitting recalling some of Dave’s finer moments. Then Vi desperately tries to get her squeamish husband to peep into the open coffin and pay his last respects to Dave. Then Harvey whispers to Vi that only a day or two earlier, Dave had confidentially admitted to a rather delicate subject that could blow their careers to pieces.
One guest is the actor’s agent, whimpering Kevin (Alan Gill) who is more upset about his potential drop in income than poor Dave dying. Kevin’s wife is a TV production secretary, Jane (Shelly Miller). They have been helping Dave’s attractive widow, Laura (Tracey Morrison) arrange the funeral – for close friends and relatives only. Arrogant Laura, who for years has gloried in being married to a famous person, wants a perfect and memorable funeral.
Just before the proceedings begin, a strange party-pooper, tarty looking Scottish ‘wee nyaff’ – a female version of Billy Connelly – who no one seems to recognise, appears at the house. She is the outspoken Kay (Sandra Sando).
Funerals are a wonderful time to state one’s mind.
This script is one of the funniest, recently published comedies. The play is very well constructed and has a genuine sparkle to it, with a laugh every 30 seconds throughout. Presenting and directing this comedy for a second time is Robert Warner, who has chosen from a large selection of quality candidates, retaining a couple of wonderful actors from his previous production. Rob has added Alan Gill who has certainly found his niche in comedy. Shelly, who is usually a backroom girl and Tracey have proved their comedy acting talents. The balanced, calm respectability of the three wives was beautifully contrasted with Kay, the unknown party-pooper.
Chappell’s comedies and farces are skilfully written with plenty of comedy twists and surprises. Although the main theme of the play is marital indiscretion, the play is suitable for all ages from teenagers up. A non-stop laugh.
I know the houses will be as full as Covid allows, so get in quickly for a great evening’s entertainment.