"Office Suite" By Alan Bennett, directed David Pritchard 18-21 January 2023
All of us involved with Adel Players were thrilled with the reception we received for this show, directed by David Pritchard. We were sold out for all four performances, and it was great to hear the feedback from our appreciative audience members. Just the tonic for a cold, dark January night! Many thanks to all those who supported us, and a big thank you to David and all the cast, crew and other members who put so much work into making this a success. As usual, please see below some pictures as a record of the production (several courtesy of Tony Zigmond) and reviews along with audience feedback as these come in.
Our thanks to Jenny Jones for this independent review of our latest play, prepared for the next edition of "Adel Bells".
"Office Suite" : A two-play treat from Adel Players
These two separate short plays were delivered crisply and efficiently, each actor giving added value with a sprinkling of northern grit. It would be wrong to single out any one actor, as the whole cast was professional and perfect for their particular part, the acting as ever was word-perfect.
The first play saw Doris and Doreen seated at their desks front stage, Doris flicking through the Financial Times and Doreen half-heartedly sifting through forms, drinking coffee and filing her nails. Doreen is at pains to mention her husband, Clifford, at regular intervals, but Doris is more concerned with her mother who has “spent half the night on the commode”, blaming the box of chocolates the vicar brought her. Neither of them feels the need to do much work, although Doreen is envious of Doris’s higher pay grade. They are thrown into a flurry of activity when they spot several requisition forms all bearing the same reference number, listing …a lightbulb, a sink plug, three venetian blind slats and a small windowpane, and realisation dawns when they recognise these are the missing items for their office. Suddenly their cosy world of complacency and job security is shattered, as they realise the real threat of redundancy. Someone is about to replace them, and the advent of computers is growing ever nearer. No more sending dockets and green forms for them … Lots of reference is made to the hierarchy on the 6th floor where, “being a gentleman he lifted the toilet seat,” to see some-one’s name burned into the underside with a red-hot poker, as so many had gone missing previously.
There is a delightful vignette with a one-armed man employing a trolley pusher to deliver and collect dockets and pink forms and green forms in large buff-coloured envelopes, and persuading Doreen that she needs to join the Union, to save her from redundancy, something previously unconsidered.
The scene closed with them breaking open the desk drawer at the back of the room where they’ve realised their replacement will sit, “An apple, an apple! Well, she won’t be taking a lunch break!”
The next short play is held in the home of Mr. Dodsworth, comfortably retired, his wife Winnie has died, but he has his retirement clock and budgie, Millie, for company. A ring at the doorbell and Miss Prothero enters, brimming over with office gossip. As ever Bennett drops in a Leeds reference, the bus up Gelderd Road adds a comfortable familiarity. She looks disapprovingly at the cake Mr. Dodsworth’s daughter has made, and suggests an electric blanket might have been more useful than the clock as a retirement present. The audience felt uncomfortable at the invasion of this poor man’s comfortable life by this over-bearing, and somewhat spiteful woman.
On a personal note, I couldn’t help but think Alan Bennett’s mother would have had something to say about Miss Prothero’s footwear, a pair of very elegant red sling-backs, “Sling back-shoes,” I think she’d say, “She’ll be needing to see that chiropodist up at Whingate Junction, mark my words, them pointed toes will play havoc with her bunions.”