'Standby on Stage Please!' review

United Reformed Church, Buxton. 14th & 15th July 2009


A thoroughly enjoyable hour spent with the totally self obsessed Suzi Monroe and the ever patient and professional Stage Manager, Kate.

Suzi appeared in a popular sit com several years ago and has since kept her profile high by appearing in various 'celebrity' TV shows. It becomes clear that she is extremely high maintenance and has very little acting ability, which is probably why she has had very few acting roles in the interim and she tries to persuade us that the two months holiday she will be taking after the exhausting schedule of 'panto' is to recover and 'consider her options'.

Kate is the Stage Manager, ensuring the crew and cast are where they should be when they should be - especially the 'professional' high profile leading lady. Kate's patience seems never ending as Suzi is unable to learn her lines and clings to her script like a security blanket and insists on the words being taped all over the set and props. She is demanding and clearly believes she is the 'star'. Her attention seeking antics see her trying to get Kate to undertake a series of minor and unimportant tasks and does not have any appreciation of the role of Stage Manager, or the demands and etiquette required for stage work. Her nerves and lack of ability and talent means that she witters constantly and any mishaps are always someone else's fault - props in the wrong place, lights being moved.

Only occasionally does Kate point out that it might be Suzi at fault. When talking to various crew members on the 'cans' we get an insight into Kate's real thoughts on the 'high price of fame'. That Kate is able to concentrate on cueing in scenery, set and light changes, not to mention cast calls displays her professionalism, which unsettles Suzi even more. There is some very funny dialogue and when Suzi takes her mobile on stage, refusing to leave it with Kate in case it rings - well!

Having been in, and connected to, many amateur productions I recognised the characters immediately. Wonderfully played by Emily Trebicki as Suzi and Fiona Organ as Kate they are obviously based on people the author Clare Butler has met en route. Emily and Fiona's timing and facial expressions conveyed much - but 'much' was obviously missed by Suzi as she presents a gift to Kate at the end of the run declaring that there had been a special bond between them, Kate is fabulous and she hopes they will work together again.

The simple staging works perfectly - there isn't much room in the wings!!

It is a shame there weren't more in the audience for the premiere of this funny but true to life depiction of activities side of stage.

Well done Claire, I hope the audiences pick up and that this is the first of many.

Linda McAlindon