All at Sea with the RATS


The Ribchester Amateur Theatrical Society has taken to the boards again, or should that be “the planks” as they once again transformed themselves into the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society.

The RATS have done a few of these wonderfully funny spoofs, the most recent, an original and hilarious Macbeth. This time they sailed even closer to the wind aboard The SS Farndale Avenue where they entertained the captive audience with their play We Found Love and an Exquisite Set of Porcelain Figurines Aboard The SS Farndale Avenue.

It is an hilarious parody of an amateur theatrical group, led by a bossy Chair-person, Mrs Reece, played with typically mistaken ability by Anne Lang, plus a small cast of perfectly-cast characters who wreak havoc with their inability to remember their lines, or to carry the action forward to a coherent conclusion.

The authors, David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, have tapped a rich vein of humour for these plays. This is the fourth Farndale foray that the RATS has staged. And there are several more – waiting in the wings, (so to speak) – where this one came from!

This one is set on board a Cruise Liner – which is cleverly represented on stage with a simple deck – edge balustrade, a plain back-cloth, a huge red ventilation cowl and various movable accessories, such as a drinks trolley with a broken caster that takes on a life of its own, and an albatross on wires that heralds an ominous start to Act 2.

The plot that unravels in front of the audience is a rare concoction of mistaken identities and love-interests. Thelma, played by Susie Owen, is the gorgeous blonde Hollywood star, with the devoted, but unlucky maid, Felicity, in close attendance, but about half a page behind the action. Gordan, played by John Royle, is the notional love-interest of each of the ladies. Anne Lang produced a series of comic cameos, merely by changing her hat and her accent. In the space of two acts, the cast of only five players each played a rich variety of parts. They went through seven costume changes, survived a ship-wreck on a tropical island – and achieved an improbable rescue that was almost thwarted by Thelma’s refusal to continue to play her part. The play ends, where it began, with the return of the DJ, William Thomas, who has double-booked the theatre for the same evening as Mrs Reece, for a gig but has had the foresight to get a licence and a contract

The only tragedy of the evening is that this delightful charade of talent was presented for a mere three performances. As the programme says, “Floreat Farndale”. Congratulations to all participants!

Thanks to Chris and Keith.