Recent Production of Cheshire Cats
Cheshire Cats by Gail Young
Directed by Vinny Shepherd
Wednesday 11th - Saturday 14th March 2020
Reviewed by: Jose Harrison on Friday 13th March, 2020
This play about a group of ladies taking part in the London Moonwalk is based on a true story and was written to raise the awareness of the large number of people in this country who organise, take part in and assist with charity walks. This group of women who give themselves the team name of Cheshire Cats, owing to the county in which they live, has agreed to take part in the London Moonwalk. This was a totally new play and playwright to me and is billed as a comedy but might have been better described as drama with its implications of sadness.
The lighting, sound and costumes all combined to provide a good feel to the production and the cleverly used props managed to transport us from station platform, on a train and into a marquee and a park. The simple set was sufficient for purpose and there was obviously an effective team backstage.
The ladies in this production were well cast in the roles of Vicky (Gail Pichaeli), Maggie (Sarah Johnson), Siobhan (Claire Mitchell), Hilary (Nadya Henwood) and Yvonne (Laura Thornett) The interaction between the characters ensured that plenty of humour was extracted from this funny yet often poignant story. There should have been six ladies taking part in the walk but one had to drop out. This gave an ideal opportunity for Vicky to take her latest man friend Andrew (Mark Beauchamp) dressed gloriously as a blonde bombshell. This late replacement turns out to be not what most of the ladies expect but certainly made true the description of ‘comedy’. He was divine.
There were excellent cameo performances from Madge, (Pam Sheppard), Ethel (Anne Baker) and Handsome Drunk (Gordon Keys). I particularly liked the rhyming monologues from the cast as they commented on life and personalities. These were well presented.
Shepherded by their self-appointed leader, Hilary, who is determined to complete the course in record time come what may, the team undertake rigorous training and then journey to the capital. The audience follows them on their way learning much about the different characters, their personal qualities and reasons for undertaking the venture. All the players were able to give of their best to their given roles which were nicely differentiated.
Cheshire Cats is an interesting play with an unexpected twist at the end. I think it will be very well received with the ever growing number of people who generously give of their time to raise funds for good causes.