Are You Being Served?
By Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft
Director, Christine Duncan-Linning
Sandgate Theatre Inc.
How long has it been since you have been in a large department store where someone has come up to see if you needed help? If it had been Grace Brothers store, someone would have said “Are You Being Served?”.
That store was the centre of all activity in the comedy series from the BBC that began in 1972. The series gained much of its popularity by pushing the limits through its deliberate – subtle – use of risqué visual gags, innuendo infused dialogue and cleverly disguised sophomoric humour. The series made the audience laugh while challenging the norms of the day. This is the stage adaption of the television series with all the remembered characters.
In Act1, the employers of Grace Brothers are preparing for a sale of German goods and planning their group holiday which takes place in Spain in a one star hotel when a revolution is happening. The Spanish adventure makes Act 2.
This production by Sandgate Theatre played to a full house who dined and laughed their way through a very entertaining evening of diverse characters, challenging humour and impossible situations.
Director, Christine Duncan-Linning cast interacted well in the challenging situations within the script and their timing was on cue.
The set was functional but the problem of the small stage meant there were far too many black-outs for scene changes in Act 2.
Michelle Whitmore played the key role of Mrs Slocomb and she did it very well. She covered the very wide range of humour, costume changes and interaction that are vital for the play to succeed.
Elodie Boal played Miss Brahms, the other female main character. Unfortunately, at times, it was hard to hear their voices clearly which was mainly due to the high roof of the auditorium which cause echoes at times.
Outstanding was the performance of the “gay” Mr Humphries by Gary Farmer who maintained the role very well indeed.
His character that was the centre of attention nearly all the time he was on stage and he maintained it all the time – even when in the most outlandish costumes. He worked well with Mr Lucas, played by Reagan Warner, for many of his scenes. The others in the cast were solid and were well directed.
The audience laughed the night away and it was a good way to spend a night at Sandgate Town Hall. The play is on again next weekend.