Tuesday, 29 June 2010

It's Never Too Late Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne Review

It's Never Too Late
Devonshire Park Theatre
29 June- 3 July 2010
(performance seen 29 June)

Cast (appearance order)

Susan Shaw - Joanna Van Gysegham
Linda Bridges - Judy Buxton
Peter Bridges - Jeffrey Holland
Henry - Stan Pretty
Thomas - Michael Shaw
Richard Shaw - Ian Saynor

The story of It's Never Too Late by Ron Aldridge essentially revolves around the character of Susan Shaw (Joanna Van Gysegham). Her husband Richard (Ian Saynor), as part of a mid-life crisis, has left her for a younger woman.

Joanna Van Gysegham star of It's Never Too LateStarting off as an emotional, somewhat downtrodden, wreck it is time for Susan to make changes to improve her life and well being.

Her friends are by her side to help (and hinder) her in her seemingly impossible quest.

Her girlfriend Linda Bridges (Judy Buxton) is there both as a shoulder to cry on and as fitness instructor to try to get her back in shape. Linda's husband Peter (Jeffrey Holland) is there to poke fun at just about anything Susan Shaw says or does as she tries to convert from frumpy to fit.

Henry and Thomas (Stan Pretty and Michael Shaw) try to win the affections of Susan now this middle-aged 'fish' has apparently been thrown back in the sea.

Husband and wife, the delightful, Jeffrey Holland and Judy BuxtonMeanwhile her estranged husband, Richard (Ian Saynor), battles his own conscience as to whether he has done the sensible thing in trading her in for a younger model.

The set is simple but effective with all the action taking place in Susan's living room.

I like comedies that entertain from the outset and that is what this one does. The background to the Shaw's separation is clear within the first few minutes. With all the characters apart from Richard being on set from the beginning it's a quick introduction to their characters too.

Joanna Van Gysegham is great in the lead role, there's probably many a middle-aged woman that can sympathize with her dislike of the aerobic routines she attempts to undertake to get in shape.

Real life husband and wife team Jeffrey Holland and Judy Buxton work so well together on stage. They are also very familiar with the Devonshire Park theatre where they have appeared in several plays over the years. To be fair Jeffrey's role in this play may not be the biggest but his mickey-taking of Susan is both witty and believable. Judy meanwhile has a very big role (and script!) in this show and she is excellent in demonstrating the patience of a saint whilst trying to get Susan out of the emotional hole she has dug herself into.

Stan Pretty and Michael Shaw - It's Never Too LateIan Saynor may have a fleeting appearance compared to the rest of the cast but when he does appear he fits the bemused and confused part of Richard Shaw very well.

Then there's 'gentleman' Henry. Stan Pretty is great in his efforts to impress Susan, a woman he has apparently  always had a 'thing' for.

That just leaves Thomas (Michael Shaw) who is more than a little strange. A total contrast to gentleman Henry, Thomas is somewhat of a loner - a bit of a geeky, Mr Bean-ish, trainspotting type (sorry trainspotters).

Ian Saynor, It's Never Too LateI know the rest of the cast won't mind me saying this but Michael is the most hilarious star of this show. I know from Joanna that whilst he had the original script at casting Michael made the role his own and made many adjustments to it. I'm also aware that he has been known to change things he has done from show to show so the cast are never quite sure what he's going to come out with next!

The resulting character is so incredibly funny as he tries to win Susan's heart by impressing her in any way he can. By being more confident, more macho, by buying gifts - he tries the lot, each attempt keeping the audience in stitches.

To sum up this was a nice, consistently entertaining, comedy played by a believable, warm and friendly, cast which I would gladly see again in the future.

It's Never Too Late 4/5

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