The Paintbox Players presents Puzzle Pieces
A series of one act plays by Robert Scott
Saturday 24th March 2018
Rosliston and Cauldwell Village Hall, Derbyshire, UK
The recently founded Paintbox Players delighted and entertained their audience last night with a series of one act plays written by award winning author Robert Scott. The set for each play was minimalistic; a painted window, a table and chairs to set the scene. It may have been nice to see a little more scenery, but as this is the very first performance from this group, I can imagine that the production had a strict budget.
Luke's birthday party is a lonely affair - there's just him, until his ex-girlfriend Tanya walks in. She only meant to drop off his gift, but soon they're involved in a strenuous argument over closure and who gets it. Carl Smith gave a strong comic performance as the frustrated Luke, matched by his counterpart Nicole James as Tanya. They worked well as a duo and a pleasure to watch with many funny lines. However, the pace really picked up during the second half as David Owen arrived as the bumbling caretaker, who caught them in the act of ‘making up’. There were plenty of laughs from the audience as Luke tried to hide Tanya from the caretaker. There were a couple of moments where lines were not heard due to laughter from the audience, but this was rare. David Owen’s dry performance was a joy to watch and worked splendidly as a counterbalance to the other animated characters.
Two short sketches led by Adam Livett interspersed the plays. Joan (The Movie) was a humorous piece where Adam Livett, a Hollywood writer, pitched the most ludicrous storyline to the long suffering executive played by David Owen. The second sketch, Symphony Dreadful, was delightful. Carl Smith played the "Next Beethoven" although his only likeness to the great man was his deafness and ill-temper. His skilled performance maximised the comedic effect and produced one of the funniest moments of the evening. Adam Livett, playing a TV interviewer, had a natural rapport with the audience and his timing had the audience chuckling throughout.
In this play, a friendly game of chess between husband and wife becomes more of a game of cat and mouse. Michael likes to think he's always one move ahead, but perhaps this time Amy has him in check. This script was a contrast to the others on offer (and I would guess this was a deliberate production decision.) The complexity of the characters and menacing dialogue created a Hitchcockesque thriller which relied upon two young actors to create the atmosphere. This was a directorial masterpiece by David Owen. Adoria Grace as the vengeful Amy was captivating. Her sensational performance gave a dark and disturbing portrayal of a woman on the brink of insanity, due to her husband’s treatment. Michael was played by Richard Frudd. Richard gave a strong performance. He was required to demonstrate a whole range of emotions from domineering to vulnerable, which he achieved, no mean feat in just over twenty minutes.
Bride Before A Fall (Comedy)
Victor and his mistress Madelyn plot an 'accident' for Victor’s dim but very rich wife Lottie. Their scheming oft goes awry as they consider 42 different scenarios for the deed. The final result has unexpected consequences for all three of them. Joel Hutson gave an amusing performance as the long suffering husband. His comedy timing was perfect which ensured the audience were in stitches towards the end of the show. In contrast to her earlier role, Adoria Grace played the rather unbearable and dim-witted wife, Lottie, showing herself to be a versatile and talented actress. Nicole James, as the jealous lover Madelyn produced an assured and strong performance and I very much enjoyed watching her in this role. There were a couple of stumbles which were well recovered from without the need of a prompt and were nothing that would detract from the enjoyment of the evening.
Verdict 4/5 - The production was clearly a success and achieved its purpose, an enjoyable night out was had by all. There were a couple of moments where pauses for laughter would have been beneficial, but perhaps this will be polished for future productions. All the plays were pleasing to watch, but if I had to pick one to highlight, Checkmate was unique and a quality piece of theatre.