"Panic Stations" a Comedy by Derek Benfield

Louis Richards writes:

The Court Players choice of "Panic Stations" by Derek Benfield did not disappoint the packed audiences which filled The Memorial Hall, Rangeworthy for all three performances.  Derek Benfield is a master of farce and no stranger to acting himself.  Amongst his most well-known roles was that of Robert, husband of housewife and amateur sleuth Hetty Wainthrop in the TV series of the same name and I’m sure this helped in swelling the numbers attending.

English gentleman Chester Dreadnought (Dave Masters) purchases an idyllic country cottage but instead of finding the peace and quiet he had longed for discovers he is in the centre of a full military exercise which has been organised by the local training camp.  He also finds himself plagued by local unhandy man Abel Bounty and his wife (Mike McDonald and Sam Palmer) who have been brought in to get the cottage ready for its new owner.  Next on the scene is Carol (Louise Cox), a young and naïve women who, having met Chester in the local pub moves in prior to his arrival mistakenly thinking the cottage is to be their love-nest.  Confusion and misunderstandings abound when Chester’s wife Patricia (Carole Vincent) arrives with her aristocratic parents Lord and Lady Elrood in tow (Kevin Stephens and Jean Clarke).  Gill Cope adds to the mayhem as the eccentric historian Miss Partridge and the suitably camouflaged Dan Long has a commanding presence as Sergeant Everest.   Chester continues to dig an ever deeper hole for himself as he tries to talk his way out of the ever changing situations. 

This is a very “wordy” play and for the most part the cast remembered their dialogue and kept the pace moving.  On the odd occasion when the dialogue slacked it was more than compensated for by some fine facial expressions and great characterisations which were appreciated by the audience who had obviously been intent on enjoying the whole show.

The set was well constructed and decorated and we were never in any doubt that it was anything other than a lovely country cottage in need of some redecoration.  There were appropriate and effective sound effects, realistic props and costumes which were in keeping with each character.

I understand many people were disappointed at not being able to see this show as the “House Full” notices went up some two weeks before the performance which goes to show that amateur drama is alive and well in the local community.  The Court Players recommend that you keep in touch with the local media and book early for the next productions; “Death in Character” - a murder mystery supper evening on 1st and 2nd July and the pantomime “Humpty Dumpty” at the end of January 2017 – I certainly will!