Life on a sticky wicket...

Preston Playhouse
Preston Playhouse
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The final test, Preston Drama Club, Preston Playhouse

Peter Howarth took the role of Peter who sits in a deckchair in his garden, too absorbed in listening to the cricket commentary in his headphones to notice the house has been emptied until his wife, Ruth (Carol Caine) informs him she has sold the property and she is leaving him to live in Bexhill-on-Sea with a toy boy called Stephen with whom she hopes to go frolicking naked in the waves.

But Peter is more interested in the fall of the next wicket and has no intention of leaving, even when the new occupants, a young married couple, Ray and Susan (Tim Butler and Lauren Canavan), move in the following day, and stays fixed in his deckchair.

Susan calls the police but Peter points out that, as he hasn’t broken into the premises he can’t be evicted, and ends up doing the tango with the puzzled policeman (Phil Barker) much to the consternation of the watching Susan and Ray.

At this point, you would have been forgiven for assuming this was going to be one of those silly frothy comedies, mildly amusing but going nowhere, and you’d have been better staying at home listening to the weather forecast on Radio Four.

But you would have been wrong because, suddenly, the play took on a more serious note when, against his wife’s wishes, Ray joins Peter in the garden and they discuss the reason for Peter’s situation, debating how much Peter’s behaviour had contributed to Ruth’s desire to leave him.

When Ruth makes a surprising return, Ray and Susan find themselves re-examining their own relationship and the play moved into an interesting philosophical dimension as both couple re-evaluated their lives until eventually striking out in new directions.

The two couples were well cast and performed superbly under Janet Dawson’s professional direction while Phil Barker is to be congratulated on taking on the role of the WPC at short notice.

Although he refused to change sex for the occasion, he still managed to learn the tango in four days, as well as his lines.

A true trouper.

Ron Ellis