Monday, 21 June 2010

If I Were You Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne

If I Were You
Devonshire Park Theatre
21st-26th June 2010
(Performance seen 21st)


Jill Rodale - Liza Goddard
Mal Rodale - Jack Ellis
Chrissie Snaith - Lauren Drummond
Dean Snaith - Ayden Callaghan
Sam Rodale - David Osmond

Only 8 months after appearing in the Grass Is Greener at the same venue Jack Ellis and Liza Goddard return to the Devonshire Park in the comedy If I Were You.

Liza Goddard, Lauren Drummond, David Osmond - If I Were YouLiza's stage and screen career is a long and varied one having been given a huge kick-start in her childhood by playing Clarissa 'Clancy' Merrick in the long running TV series Skippy The Bush Kangaroo. A popular childrens' series, produced in Australia, about a boy and his intelligent 'talking' kangaroo the programme lasted an incredible 91 episodes. Whilst I would love to claim I'm not old enough to remember the series I'm afraid I can't and like most kids of that era I probably saw most of those episodes, and enjoyed them.

Jack Ellis, on the other hand and according to Wikipedia, entered acting and show business later in life. The first production is reported as a 1985 movie (again an Australian production) Unfinished Business.

Young Lauren Drummond's last appearance at the Devonshire Park was in Billy Liar (fine acting by all, with Lauren's orange-munching role the best, but not one of my favourite productions).

For Ayden Callaghan and David Osmond I believe this was their first visit to the DPT. However David has been in Eastbourne before having appeared in The History Boys at the Congress Theatre. Incidentally Ayden couldn't make the Friends Of The Devonshire Park Theatre's reception, hence he is not pictured.

The Devonshire Park marks the final touring venue of If I Were You in 2010.

If I Were You with Liza Goddard and Jack EllisEssentially this comedy is a role switching comedy with husband and wife switching roles. For those that are familiar with the movie it bears similarities to Freaky Friday (Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lee Curtis) although that was a same sex swap.

However, whilst this is an Alan Ayckbourn comedy, it is no Bedroom Farce. It's a comedy with a quite serious underlying story and even at the end you are left wondering if the ending was ultimately happy or not.

In a nutshell, Mal Rodale is a middle aged self-centred, ignorant pig. Ignorant not just in that he is having a long running affair but also that he truly believes his long suffering wife, Jill, knows nothing about it.

Foul mouthed and bit of a slob he works alongside his equally bullish son-in-law Dean Snaith in a furniture showroom. During the day they criticize their 'other halves' and treat their employees like dirt, with Mal popping out for a 'quickie' with his bit-on-the-side Trixie now and then.

Meanwhile Jill and their daughter Chrissie are at home finding it difficult to discuss with each other that they both have men problems.

Stuck in the middle somewhat is their teenage son, Sam, an aspiring actor who can't even follow his love of Shakespeare without his father interfering because it's not what hard men do.

Jack Ellis - If I Were YouThe first half of this production is very much background building. I know that other reviews have remarked that this part it is somewhat slow and not particularly funny but that the second half is worth waiting for.

I have to admit this is fair comment and as the interval arrived like others in the audience we were left wondering whether some of the four letter swear words used in that half were really justified?

Whilst If I Were You finishes its current tour in Eastbourne this week do not let this put you off seeing this production sometime in the future.

The second half is not only very well acted and absolutely hilarious, with Goddard and Ellis adopting their spouse's traits perfectly, but everything you saw in part 1 makes perfect sense in part 2.

You really need to appreciate Liza Goddard's transformation into her vile other half and equally to see Jack Ellis bring out his feminine side.

'Mal' tries to fight off the desire to flounce around dusting and washing up whilst thoroughly confusing his son-in-law as he shows a new love for 'woosy' things like flowers, cleanliness, love and good employee relations.

'Jill' stays at home swearing blue murder and learning that doing simple things ,like vacuuming, aren't as easy as they look. Now with time to spend with his children, Mal entrapped in Jill's body, learns more than a few home truths about how obnoxious he has actually become.

How does the story end? Well I'd thoroughly recommend seeing this in the future to find out. Just go in the knowledge that this is a comedy but with a serious story rather than an all out farce and you won't come away disappointed.

For those who, like us, have appreciated Liza Goddards varied career I have found a few recent interviews and nostalgic highlights below. Just scroll using the side arrows to change clips.

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