Review: Harrogate Theatre Rep Company in partnership with phil&ben productions presents On The Piste
One of Britain's greatest playwrights, John Godber, was in the audience at Harrogate Theatre last night as its rep comany returned in style to revive one of his best-loved shows.
Harrogate Theatre had tweeted "once the skis are on, there’s no stopping this fast paced and highly exhilarating play from the author of the hugely popular Bouncers" and, boy, they were they right.
First performed in 1990, this pithy and punchy bitter-sweet comedy tells the story of Brits abroad on holiday in the era when mainland Europe was still a foreign country or continent, rather.
Chris and Alison, Bev and Dave are off on the skiing holiday of a lifetime with all the gear and no idea.
First-time skiers, have they got the courage to don the slopes, or will the apres ski be more tempting?
It's all a bit of a hilarious mess as the Brits' personal conflicts come to the surface in the glare of the crisp white slopes of the Alps under the influence of German wine and Austrian lager.
The cast, the same small cast, by the way, members of which will shortly tackle two more classic plays in the next couple of weeks as Harrogate Theatre brings back rep for the second year running, simply dazzle throughout under the sure-footed direction of the theatre's panto genius Phil Lowe.
Parts of this acutely observational script have also inevitably dated, specifically some of the sexual politics, though Godber is scrupulously fair - or unfair - to both women and men
What still stands out nearly 30 years on is the sharpness of the dialogue and the earthy honesty of the characters.
For a funny writer, Godber is fearless.
Seen now, it's clear how hugely influential Godber's work was to be on the style of a whole list of hit sitcoms in years to come on TV, from The Royle Family to Benidorm.
Not surprising, really, as in 1993 he was the third most performed playwright in the UK behind William Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn.
On The Piste runs at Harrogate Theatre until Saturday, August 31.
Coming next in Harrogate Theatre's 2019 season of rep
September 3-7: Deathtrap: From Ira Levin, the writer of Rosemary’s Baby, this play twists and turns with devilish cleverness, and an abundance of thrills and laughter.
September 10-14: The 39 Steps: This Olivier Award winning comedy and classic Hitchcock spy thriller written by John Buchan is brilliantly and hilariously recreated for the Harrogate stage.
Harrogate Theatre Rep Company: Cast
Katy Dean played in all three HT Rep shows last year and is a regular in our pantomime cast. Katy will perform as Alison in On The Piste and Myra Bruhl in Deathtrap.
Phil Stewart, one half of co-producers philandben, will perform in The 39 Steps. He is also directing Deathtrap.
Janine Mellor you may recognise from ITV’s Fat Friends and Coronation Street. She will perform as Bev in On The Piste and Helga Ten Dorp in Deathtrap. This is Janine’s first time performing at Harrogate Theatre, following successful stage shows at the National Theatre and performances in Dundee Rep.
Ross Waiton performed as Baron Bon Bon in 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. He will act in all three HT rep shows this season. Ross has performed at the National Theatre and with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Anna Clarke is a new face to Harrogate Theatre’s stage. She will perform as Melisa in On The Piste and in multiple roles in The 39 Steps.
John Hester was welcomed to Harrogate theatre the first time last year as an actor/director in HT Rep, and we’re delighted that he’s returning to play Porter Milgrim in Deathtrap and help to direct the same play.
Ewan Goddard fresh from staring in the UK & International tour of James and the Giant Peach, will take the roles of Chris in On The Piste and Clifford Anderson in Deathtrap.
Oliver Mellor in his first performance at Harrogate Theatre, will play Tony in On The Piste then the starring role of Richard Hannay in The 39 Steps. You might recognise Oliver from his frequent TV appearances in programmes such as Hollyoaks, Cold Feet, and Eastenders