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The latest Lichfield Players’ production has that rarest of all qualities, charm, and not only that, it has it in absolute bucketfuls.
Ostensibly the simple tale of a group of ordinary women who get together to raise money for charity Gail Young’s comedy Cheshire Cats becomes something much more than that, a glimpse into some very recognisable human nature in a play for which the term heart-warming could have been invented.
I’m not going to reveal even its storyline because I don’t want to spoil any of the play’s many clever surprises, but I will allow myself to compliment the actors whose ensemble work here couldn’t be bettered under the able direction of Sarah Stanley, no mean actress herself.
Maureen George is marvellous as the team organiser for whom the term businesslike could easily be paraphrased as “bossy verging on control-freak” but who mellows with success. Gina Martin is delightful as the good-sort Siobhan who meets every difficulty with good-humoured stoicism.
Rosemary Bodger gives a wistful twist to the role of Yvonne who hasn’t had much of a life, while Angelique Runnalls-Bould, new to me, flowers delightfully as the ebullient Maggie.
But ultimately it’s Mandy Davies as Vicky who steals the show, a woman on the lookout for life who goes on a completely unexpected journey to the very heart of it. And in what I at first believed to be an all-female cast I was delighted to see that marvellous character actor John Cleaver springing a number of crackling surprises.
Add in some delightful vignettes by Glyn Page, Christine McDermott, Tony Coxon, Andrew Bodger and Ian Davies, and you’ve got the perfect cast. But even in this exalted company special mention must go to Ron Hughes, a newcomer to me, as the Handsome Drunk. If you ask me this actor is a star in the making.