Wednesday, 18 July 2012

THE FINAL TEST (UK Tour) July 2012

For this, the fourth play in the Ian Dickens play season we are presented with an entirely new work. This is the first time Chris Paling's comedy has been put before an audience, perhaps a big gamble in today's theatrical world - but it managed to hold it's own.

Doctor Who's Colin Baker stars as Peter, who discovers one afternoon that his wife Ruth (Karen Ford) has sold the house and is moving to Bexhill-On-Sea with a new man she found on the internet. Peter, not knowing what to do remains in the garden listening to the cricket. The new owners move in and face the awkward task of getting him out. They call upon the help of a policeman (Michael Garland) who instead of evicting Peter, ends up ballroom dancing with him.

Colin Baker has undoubtable charm. However annoying it is to have an unwelcome visitor in your garden, when it's Colin Baker you'd happily keep him for a gnome. He manages to steer conversations away from why he's staying towards ridiculous situations or getting into confusing the opponent with a pompous argument. Karen Ford as his wife plays a strained and desperate cricket-widow. Emmerdale's Peter Amory along with Nicola Weeks as Susan are the perfect contrast in personality who benefit from the help of their friendly squatter. As with all the plays there is one character who appears for all of two minutes and is never seen again until curtain call. In this play it is Gavin Kerr as the removal man who doubles up as an assistant stage manager.

The set by Alan Miller-Bunford is by far his best creation throughout the play season. There's a spacious lawn, a shed, a whole house with a kitchen in-view, a wall of another house, a street behind the house - nothing is forgotten about. The set makes the slightly daft story seem much more realistic. 

Overall, an amusing evening. For a new play, it's great. It was nice to see a play set in the present day with references to Facebook and Blackberries ("Blueberries"). It starts off a little slowly, and is very dialogue heavy in some parts. If you're not a cricket fan (like me) then perhaps some of the more technical cricket language will wash over your head but the play is much more than that. 

The Final Test runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 21st July and plays only two more venues before finishing it's run on 18th August. 

(With Colin Baker)

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