On set with the Helmdon
On the 14th
and 15th June 2002 over 120 villagers packed in to the Reading
Room to see the Bridge Players' Summer production "Don't
Dress For Dinner" by Marc Camoletti.
The critics were unanimous in their praise of the Bridge
Players latest summer production. "Pure entertainment",
"I haven't laughed so much in my life" and "I
laughed so much my jaw ached" were just a few of comments
passed on to the cast and director by the discerning theatre
going public of Helmdon.
Morag Underwood ambitiously chose to stage this French farce
and after months of intense rehearsals and soul searching
her faith in her cast was rewarded.
It would be beyond me to give an understandable synopsis
of the play, suffice it to say it revolved around the extra
marital shenanigans of Bernard (Dave Bridger) and the ensuing
involvement of his wife, Jacqueline (Nicola Dent) his best
friend, Robert (Paul Underwood) the lover Suzanne (Jo Ezzy)
and a cook, Suzette and her husband, Georges (Bryony Coates
and Gary Turner).
Dave Bridger managed to convey despair and hope in equal
measure as his carefully crafted plans for the weekend unravelled
at every turn. His bullying bravado was off set by Paul
Underwood's bewilderment and cleverly understated creeping
Robert (Paul Underwood) wondering
how on earth he got into this situation!
This was certainly one of Paul's finest roles and towards
the end of the play when he delivered an impenetrable speech,
full of double entendres and humour, he rightly received
a spontaneous burst of applause.
Nicola Dent, the deceived (and deceiving) wife, undertook
her role with the coolness and sophistication that befitted
her character. She could change her well-modulated tones
to venomous asides that Sybil Fawlty would be proud of.
Bryony Coates played an itinerant cook employed by Bernard
to create a birthday meal for his girlfriend. The fact that
both the cook and the girlfriend are known as Suzy is where
the confusion lies. Bryony as the cook walks into a household
where all sorts of deceits are being played and quickly
manages to turn the situation to her own financial advantage.
She does this with freshness and a great sense of fun. Bryony
also bravely submitted to a new departure for the Bridge
Players; an on stage costume change practically down to
her underwear and it wasn't her taking the clothes off!
Jo Ezzy started off as a chic Parisian beauty whose expectations
of a romantic weekend were dashed when she ended up cooking
and skivvying in the kitchen. Jo's languid looks and artful
comic pauses were used to great effect in this play and
surely being able to throw 'sauce pollute' over Dave Bridger
must have made all the hard work worth while.
Years working abroad have robbed the Bridge Players of
Gary Turner's talents, until now. Gary's return to the theatrical
fold was a glorious one. As the cooks husband he imbued
his part with steely menace, a padded jacket and a welcome
hint of sanity in what had become a mad house. His part
in an on stage fist fight (another first) lent gritty realism
to the proceedings. It's great to have him back.
Peter Fisher's set was an integral part of the play, the
essential opening and closing of bedroom doors and some
well chosen pieces of furniture, all of which withstood
a brawl and dowsings with soda syphons, sauce veloute and
A great evening of which all participants and back stage
people can be proud.
by Christine Bridger