2010 Kindly Keep it Covered
Kindly Keep It Covered is a classic farce from the late Dave Freeman, whose impressive writing credits include much TV and radio work from the 60s, 70s and 80s and even the odd Carry On Film. Hence plenty of high-quality silliness was to be expected in this above-par script, which originally starred Terry Scott as the hapless Roland. My hearty congratulations to director Karen Williams for taking on what proved to be a challenging production – it was certainly worth the effort – and for making this 20-year-old play seem surprisingly modern.
To quote the author’s website:
“Roland Dickerby, formerly of the Kindly Mutual Insurance Co, runs a health farm with his wife Julia, bought with proceeds of a hefty insurance payout on the demise of Julia's first husband, the charming rogue, Sidney. Life isn't easy for Roland; a healthy lifestyle is not exactly his cup of carrot juice, his formidable mother-in-law, Olivia, keeps a very beady eye on him and he is constantly harassed by portly guests manically in search of carbohydrates of the sweet variety. But today, Fate has something extra special in store for Roland: Sidney has decided to resurrect himself and turns up at the farm just as Vanessa the wife of Roland's ex-boss from the Kindly Mutual, checks in for a health-giving visit.”
Paul Holden and Lindzi Hayward shared the bulk of the lines as the frantic Roland and the scoundrel Sidney respectively and did a fine job in carrying the show. Some prompting was evident, especially in the second act, but this proved no real detriment to the spectacle and was more than atoned for by their slap-stick set-pieces, which were excellent.
Martina Haugh was impressive, again, as Julia and one hopes that even more substantial roles can be found for her in future shows. Joanne McBrearty was typically assured in the tricky role of Vanessa, who must try to come across as both suspicious and dim at the same time; while Els Tallett and Carl Reeson both earned plenty of laughs in their comedy cameos as the bamboozled policewoman, Sgt Campbell, and the desperate biscuit-addicted resident, Hooper. However, my pick of the cast was Barbara Slater giving her funniest performance to date as Olivia, the terrifying mother-in-law. Olivia is the type who often carries an umbrella indoors and isn’t afraid to use it, and Barbara played her with due relish.
In addition to some below-par scripts I’ve also bemoaned a certain lack of projection in the past from some of the actors, so it’s only right that I state here that there were no such issues for this show. Everyone came across both loud and clear. If I have to find something to complain about (and tradition dictates that I do) then it would only be that some starter lines were lost beneath the audience reaction to the gags that had come immediately before. Pause and appreciate the laughter next time – you certainly earned it.