Last Friday I watched three short comedy performances at the Chandler’s Ford Methodist Church performed by the MDG Players and their friends from Romsey. Unlike the previous performances I’ve seen, this was a variety of plays with different characters and plots, with different styles of comedy.
The first play was Neighbourhood Watch (by Liz Dobson) and it was very much like a Monty Python ensemble piece.
The basic plot is a neighbourhood watch group in a village calling a policewoman to investigate their missing items. The set up is simple and there’s only one setting, but there are several great twists. For example, the final revelation that the characters had committed fraud and tried to claim insurance was hilarious. I genuinely didn’t see that twist coming, and it’s really funny and worth the set up. What makes it funnier was the naivety of the policewoman not knowing the truth despite the other characters knowing the exact value of their items.
The second play, Tom-Tom (by John Peel), is reminiscent of a Fry and Laurie skit due to only having two characters and one situation. It’s about a couple’s simple car trip to Oxford going horribly wrong due to the Tom-Tom device being – interesting, to say the least. This is my favourite of the three, as it reminds me of several car journeys I’ve been on with my parents, with disputes over music, map reading and where to go. It’s very well paced and very funny, with the situation just getting more and more absurd by the minute, such as the Tom-Tom interacting with the characters as if it were a human.
The funniest recurring gag was the Tom Tom’s repetition of “Please turn around where possible”, but the man refused to listen and got into more trouble. The timing was spot on, especially when the car hit the speed bumps, the characters visibly jumped from their seats, provoking big laughs.
During the interval, there were wartime songs performed by Dovetail Singers while everyone enjoyed the tea and cakes. Obviously I wasn’t around during World War Two and I wasn’t familiar with the songs, but I got a real sense of patriotism and Britishness (yes that is a word) from them. The songs were performed in characters of people from the time, and their songs were stirring the spirit of the people. The audience could still relate to the spirit of the war time, even though the war was over 70 years ago.
Lads and Lasses Army
The final piece, Lads and Lasses Army (by Irene Bourne), reminded me a lot of Blackadder, however my dad said it was more like Dad’s Army, which I haven’t actually seen any of. It was set during the Second World War and was about the Home Guard. I study History at school and I learn about the Home Front during the First World War. The premise of this play is that six Home Guard soldiers are recruiting women into their team, and hilarity ensues. There’s a hilarious recurring gag about one of the soldiers requesting “permission to speak” and there’s a lot of humour regarding the captain’s insistence on rules and authority.
The leader of the women, Mrs Clark, is more competent and knowledgeable than the male soldiers, who are supposed to be more superior. This subverts the expected role of women in the war. My favourite character is Bombardier Browne, who was the Baldrick of the gang, although slightly more competent.
Overall this was a fantastic evening with three very different and very funny performances. I highly recommend you watch more upcoming performances from the MDG Players and their friends from Romsey.
Here are a few short video clips of the nostalgic wartime favourites presented by Dovetail Singers, and a sing-along. The songs included:
- (There’ll be bluebirds over) the white cliffs of Dover
- All the nice girls love a sailor
- Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag
- It’s a long way to Tipperary
- Don’t sit under the apple tree
- Keep the home-fires burning
- We’ll meet again