Dennis Harrison always said there were two things he would do when he was old enough. One was to go on a cruise, which he will be doing at Christmas. The other was to direct a play, which he will be doing next week for the West Wittering Players.
As he says, it’s a case of poacher turning gamekeeper. He freely admits he would much rather be on the stage, but he’s enjoying all the challenges of directing for the first time ever.
The play is Alan Ayckbourn’s It Could Be Any One of Us
“Really it is Ayckbourn’s spoof on the Agatha Christie-type thing,” Dennis explains. “The set-up is three siblings and a truculent teenager and a part-time private detective. The older brother, to whom the property was bequeathed, decides to leave it to a complete stranger in his will because the rest of the family have been decrying his music.
“All of the siblings have pretentions to be great experts in various arts. One is a musical composer, another writes detective novels, another is a painter, and they are pretty rubbish, all of them. But being mischievous, the older brother decides to leave it all to a pupil that has gone away and come back.
“The pupil Wendy arrives, and the others don’t take very well to Wendy at all. They have to keep on her side because they don’t want her to kick them out if anything happens to the brother. And she just thinks it is wonderful. She is a bit dippy.
“But then things start to happen to Wendy. Wardrobes fall on her, and brakes fail on the car bringing her to the house. These sorts of things happen, and we are led to believe that someone is trying to get rid of Wendy.”
But then something rather unexpected happens…
“The way Ayckbourn has written it, it is set up for the private detective to do the classic ‘around the table in the drawing room’ thing with the detective saying ‘I will present the murderer to you!’”
Dennis is enjoying the experience: “You often have problems finding directors, and the circumstances were there was no one picking it up. I thought ‘I am old enough. I will have a go!’ I am finding it very interesting.
“It has been a challenge. Ayckbourn writes a heck of a lot of comedy, but you have got to tease it out. It is between the lines. You have got to tease it out, and that has been the challenge and also getting the actors to pick up on the characters.”
Dennis says he likes to think of it all as a collaborative process in which he makes suggestions while retaining overall control.
“But I much prefer being on the stage. I must admit that. I think if I was asked to do it again, I would take a chance and direct myself. I didn’t think I could try that the first time I directed. It would have been a bit of a hostage to fortune!”
The show runs at West Wittering Memorial Hall from Wednesday to Saturday, November 18-21 at 7.30pm. Tickets for the show are available from Sayas News in West Wittering.
The production is dedicated to the memory of the Players’ sound man Mike Codrai who died this summer at the age of 61.
Pictured right are:
back row : John Williams (Mortimer), Michael Servant (Brinton), Greg Gladman (Norris); front row; Heather Codrai (Wendy), Molly Servant (Amy), Sarah-Jane Goodall (Jocelyn).
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