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2004 Productions:-

Theft by Eric Chappell - directed by Gwen Peplow and Chris Wright

Critic's Comments

"This seemingly simple play about a burgled executive was given a well-paced and competent going over by a band of experienced Phoenix actors. The directors caught the pace and delivered a funny and thoughtful production.

In an antithesis of An Inspector Calls, it falls to the rather erudite burglar to winkle out the flaws in the friends and family of the burgled man "
                        Jim Hutchon-Weekly News
"What a treat we all had this evening and what an excellent play too! It is surprising that other similar groups haven't found this play as it is a splendid vehicle for amateur drama. It needs a composite set, minimum light and sound, a small cast of middle age but of course tight direction and excellent comedy actors. You provided the lot.

The FOH was excellent as always, the added presence of the roving police, the posters especially of the Bradford Gang, the lovely photos of past and present shows all added to the sense of occasion. How Derrick would have enjoyed the humour of the whole evening and I felt this was a magnificent tribute to him. The programme added yet another layer of hilarity and quality, you used some lovely clip art and I do like the use of photos.

I was especially impressed with the cueing of the music 'Money' to the opening of the main tabs, each scene was timed to perfection. The 'Pink Panther' snippet was also most apt. The overall spillage of light was excellent as was the light from the standard lamp when lit alone. The set worked well and looked commensurate with the needs of the play, the disorder was good. All costumes were good, Barbara looking particularly fetching and glamorous for the occasion, her jewellry sparkled magnificently.

But it was the superb pace of the whole evening with cues picked up quickly, pauses held for the maximum of time to create effect, wonderful consideration given to the intonation of particular words or phrases and all the comic business made to look so natural and funny that was the hallmark of this show. There were a few moments that needed reviewing; not enough reaction from Trevor on his first entrance, an ugly move by Jenny walking stage front of Spriggs as he revealed the locket, some talking over audience laughter so words were lost and although clever , the stage business with the statue by Jenny and Barbara at the end of Act 1 Scene 1 was too long. These are mere nitpickings, though, about a performance that merited superlatives.

I have been critical in the past about using the full stage, here was a splendid example of using each area well for a different important focus.

The play started with agitation and the reactions of the cast as they saw the chaos worked well. Reactions throughout were exceptional as were the build up of tensions, climaxes, relationships and moods. Jenny's change of mood as she saw the statuette for the first time was excellent. Barbara's first tiddly entrance was good, she kept the drunkenness beautifully in hand. Her reaction to Trevor's loss of his wallet was super and his delivery of the pin numbers being in the missing wallet was timed immaculately. Then Spriggs peeped out "Ah, here he is!" voiced a fan from the front row! So Spriggs started the hilarity/clowning of his part that was simply outstanding."         
              Tricia Stephens-North West Essex Theatre Guild


"This play, billed as a Comedy, written by Eric Chappell was co-directed by two members of Phoenix. The cast of five all gave good performances and whilst the pace of the play was fine the wordy dialogue tended to stifle the action. Having said that, the moment Spriggs appeared onstage, masquerading as the local policeman, whilst in actual fact being the burglar, saw a change in the colour of the piece. His acting, as ever is first rate and the comedy he extracts from a part is good to behold. The actors playing the couple whose house had been burgled were good together and I particularly liked her drunken scene. The actor playing the husband was his usual frenetic self and this suited his character. The actors playing their friends were equally good, her character was particularly well observed., The set was another masterpiece, well dressed as usual, and this helped to complete a good production."           
     Colin Butcher-National Operatic and Dramatic Association

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