Comedy double bill proves a hit show

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Burton Leonard Dramatic Society entertained sell-out audiences last weekend at the village hall with a double bill of comedies – Darlings, You Were Wonderful! by Derek Lomas and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Excellent casts in both plays brought the on-stage action to life.

In Darlings, You Were Wonderful! ambitious but untalented all woman Amazon Theatre Group are to perform a little known, passionate, 17th Century Spanish drama in an amateur festival.

Before curtain up, tensions mount among the cast as they prepare to perform. Jokers Eve and Liz (Jenny Burtwistle and Liz Whapples) arrive flushed from motorway escapades and proceed to wind up nervous Judy (Dorothy Wood) as she distracts herself by cleaning the dressing room.

Meanwhile, domineering director Irene (Rosie Ellerby) takes star actress Vanessa (Helen Crompton) to task over her affair with Irene’s husband.

The final cast member, Lesley (Autumn Wray) arrives late, drunk and newly pregnant, further throwing the group’s preparations into chaos. In the aftermath of an unseen (but clearly appalling) performance of their play, the cast waits unhappily backstage for the adjudicator’s ruling – only to find that they have wowed her with their display of anger and passion.

In sharp contrast, The Importance of Being Earnest is the classic commentary on the attitudes and foibles of the English upper classes.

The cast rose to the challenge of making so many well-known lines sound freshly minted in this version adapted for BLDS by director Gary Broad. Jack Worthing and his friend Algernon Moncrieff discover that they have each invented people to allow them to lead double lives.

The subterfuge enables them to pursue the objects of their affection but threatens to blow up in their faces under the scrutiny of Algernon’s fearsome aunt, Lady Bracknell.

The young lovers, Jack and Gwendolen (Andy Wells and Rita Taylor) and Algernon and Cecily (Mike Wray and Helen Crompton) sparred off each other in some fine ensemble playing and all quaked in their boots when confronted by the truly formidable Lady Bracknell (BLDS newcomer Judith Graham drawing applause for her delivery of the famous “handbag” line). Supporting roles were played by Paul Bappoo and Susan Wells.

The sets were designed by Gary Broad with much attention to period detail and constructed by Mark Simpson, with a superb backdrop painted by Anne Worrall for the final scene of “Earnest”.

Excellent costumes in both plays completed the picture, overseen by Rosie Ellerby, with the “Earnest” costumes coming from York Theatre Royal and Ilkley Playhouse.

Bridget Dawson was rarely called upon as prompt and Darren Hornsey was in charge of lighting and sound effects. An enthusiastic backstage, front of house and bar staff completed the team.