An October morning, mid 90’s.
The living room of 344 Chilton Road, just off the Mile End Road in East London
Unbeknown to his loving wife Linda, Eric Swan has been successfully defrauding the Department of Social Security for the past two years. Following an unexpected visit from DSS Inspector Jenkins, Eric enlists the help of his lodger, Norman. Aided by Uncle George, they frantically attempt to cover up Eric’s lies as the pressure mounts and mounts!
|Eric Swan||Brian Sheridan|
|Linda Swan||Mairead Ryan|
|Norman Bassett||Ken Murphy|
|Mr Jenkins||Adrian Power|
|Uncle George||Myles Sunderland|
|Sally Chessington||Mary O’ Connor|
|Doctor Chapman||John O’ Brien|
|Mr Forbright||George Percival|
|Ms Cowper||Jacqui Whelan|
|Brenda Dixon||Sinead Kehoe|
|Set Design||Myles Sunderland, Mairead Ryan|
|Set Construction||Pat Curran, Myles Sunderland|
|Stage Manager||Yvonne Murphy|
|Lighting||Pat Whelan, Ken Murphy|
|Sound||Yvonne Smyth, Nick Whelan, Frank Ryan|
|Backstage||Kieron Ruttledge, James Murphy|
|Costumes||Jacqui Whelan, Trish Doyle|
|Stagecrew||Davy O’ Brien, Pat Curran, Michael Stafford, Liam Clancy|
About The Group
Bridge Drama first began performing on the amateur drama circuit in 2002. Highlights include winning the Confined All Ireland with ‘Same Old Moon’ in 2009 and winning in Athlone with ‘Lost in Yonkers’ in 2016. The group is from Castlebridge, near Wexford town.
Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments
In her introductory remarks, Festival Adjudicator Anna Walker noted that ‘Cash on Delivery’ was written by Michael Cooney, a son of Ray Cooney, whom she described as “a master of writing farce”. Ms Walker said the play is “a classic farce” involving mistaken identities, widespread confusion and physical comedy, with the use of doors extremely important to the comic action.
The director’s aim must be “to play it for real” said Ms Walker, adding that “farce is probably the most challenging form of theatre”. The physical humour must also convey “the truth” of the characters and “to make the absurd believable”. The characters must appear “real”, even though he situations they find themselves in are “unreal”. A production of this play must avoid “comic exaggeration”, allowing the humour to come through in the writing.
Noting that the cast had “so much to do” in this play, Ms Walker said the physicality of the humour must come through and the timing must have “laser precision”. “It’s an awful lot to ask,” the adjudicator noted but she felt that, in the main, this group carried it off.
Due to “the breakneck speed” of the action and dialogue, Ms Walker said it’s “very easy for words to be garbled”. In this production, however, the audience heard every word which was a “very impressive” feat.
The physical energy of the characters was commended, an example being the timing of the scene where Uncle George fell. Other scenes to receive favourable comment were those involving the arrival of Ms Cowper (and her interaction with Eric Swan) and George being placed in the black sack.
“As the play developed, so did the mania,” said the adjudicator, who hailed the timing of the lines and the cues as “simply splendid”. There was “full commitment” and “high energy” from the actors and “the vast majority of the comedy was captured”. This production, directed by Trish Doyle, was praised by the adjudicator as “slick and polished” with “excellent attention to detail, and so much giddy madness”.
The set (designed by Myles Sunderland and Mairead Ryan) was hailed as “fabulous”; with “impressive outside areas”, and the lighting and colouring praised.
Turning to the acting performances, Ms Walker said there was “a fierceness” to Ms Cowper (Jacqui Whelan) that brought to mind “a nanny from hell” and her “great diction” was also highlighted. Sally Chessington (Mary O’Connor) was described as “a very caring care worker” with a “super delivery” while Sinead Kehoe brought innocence to the role of Brenda Dixon.
Doctor Chapman (John O’Brien) brought a “contrasting accent” to the action while Mr Forbright (George Percival) was “properly funereal” as the undertaker. He conveyed “an autocratic sensibility” and was “a strong foil to the madness” that was going on around him.
Adrian Power, who played the Department of Social Security Inspector Jenkins, was praised for, among other things, for the “excellent” way he listed the numerous benefits fraudulently accruing to Eric. Uncle George (Myles Sunderland) received favourable comment for his “facial reactions” while Mairead Ryan brought a “a real Essex flavour” to the character of Linda Swan, though the adjudicator warned of the risk of forcing things in this characterisation.
“Didn’t he epitomise the word gormless,” Ms Walker said positively in relation to the character of Norman Bassett (Ken Murphy), also praising his “marvellous” facial expressions and his voice.
Brian Sheridan (who played Eric Swan) was described as “very comfortable” on stage with “excellent energy” and he formed “such a good double act with Norman”. The scene where he put George into the window seat was highly commended and Eric was “the beating heart of the play in Act 2”.
In conclusion, Ms Walker said the cast and crew of Bridge Drama combined to serve up a production of “high energy and laughter”. Faced with a play that was “a mammoth task” to put on, they produced a “night of high jinks, magic and mayhem”.