Monday, 26 January 2009
Not In Front Of The Waiter
Last term's performance of 1920s farce Not in Front of the Waiter – featuring students from both Leckford Place and d'Overbroeck's Sixth Form – was a great success. The following writeup appears in the Oxford Times Education Directory 2009, with this week's paper.
Students from Leckford Place School and d'Overbroeck's Sixth Form took a different approach to their winter production with the comedy operetta and tribute to Offenbach, ‘Not in Front of the Waiter.’ The audience were as much part of the production as the players and singers, as the vaulted school hall was transformed into a 1920’s cabaret club for the evening. Friends, family and guests, most of whom were elegantly attired in period dress, settled themselves at candlelit tables as the action took place around them.
This lavish production was served up in a series of delicious courses of songs of the era and the main performance. For Hors d’Oeuvres, the pearl-like voices of Pankaew Saksornchai and Chanita Seedaket got the audience’s attention as they sang about Gershwin’s treacherous ‘Lorelei,’ a provocative performance, enhanced by the young singers’ abundance of feathers and fans.
For Entrée the truly scrumptious Olivia Fraser-Smith melted hearts with her husky rendition of Iving Berlin’s classic, ‘What’ll I do?’ Even compere Will Cronk struggled to keep a dry eye as he presented, for Viandes, the marvellous Ben Pugsley, Captain of d’Overbroeck’s rugby first XV, who gave a faultless performance of Denza’s ‘Funiculi Funicula.’ Dessert drew the musical prelude to a close with the opulent Fleur Rampton, who carried the audience away on her ‘Stairway to Paradise.’
A break for dinner followed as guests were lavishly served by waitresses Louisa Goodfellow and Eva Rorsman, and then onto the Plat du Jour, ‘Not in Front of the Waiter’ ….
This comedy operetta was first performed in the 1960’s as a tribute to Jacques Offenbach. The Leckford Place School players, with the help of a large aspidistra, brought it to life fabulously. The story starts with waiter Block (Will Cronk) preparing to receive his guests in the private room of a Paris restaurant. Solange (Zanni Cohen) and Prosper (Matt Thorns) enter and take a table next to an enormous aspidistra. The audience learns that they are both married, though not to each other, and out to enjoy a clandestine meeting. Moments later, Hortense (Rosie Cohen) and Aristide (Gidon Fineman) arrive at an adjoining table. They are bent on a similar amorous escapade and are indeed the wife and husband of the first couple. It is not long before all is discovered; the young ladies humorously exaggerating astonishment then indignity and a quarrel ensues. The waiter intervenes to reveal that from a strawberry mark on the ladies' shoulders, he recognises them as the daughters he shamelessly abandoned in childhood. The four listen with incredulity, then the ladies rejoice in having each found a father, a sister and also a brother-in-law. Reconciliation abounds, and all join in a song in praise of family trees.
The five players gave their all with a performance that is worthy of any professional stage. Zanni and her Sixth-Form sister Rosie Cohen, whilst their casting of siblings in the play was fortuitous, are clearly very talented young ladies. They carried their roles with precision comic timing, faultless singing and the wild emotions that drew the appropriate gasps of awe and shock from the audience. Their respective partners brilliantly played roles above their years; Matt Thorns convincingly projecting his ulterior motive with the delectable Solange, becoming the confused husband in the face of too much information to take in at once. Sixth-Former Gidon Fineman was icily cool as the highbrow Aristide, clearly a man who just wanted a quiet life, and proved himself as an actor who could effortlessly handle slapstick along with the smooth. It is worthy of note that Gidon was the recent winner of Oxfordshire County Council's first ever Young Composer competition.
These four wonderful performances were brought together with great aplomb by Will Cronk with his hilarious rendition of Block the waiter, demonstrating his talent as a comic performer with a natural instinct for timing and delivery. Very polished, he won the audience’s sympathy as the luckless Block, a man who has paid royally for his misdemeanours, only to be rewarded by this coincidental reunion.