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‘Fur Coat and No Knickers’ , Reject Productions – Headgate Theatre, Colchester

Rejects latest production of ‘Fur Coat and No Knickers’ is this week at the Headgate Theatre, Colchester and this was not only a hilarious romp into 1970’s northern life, as well as a fantastic tribute to past Founder Member Barry Hester, who sadly passed away recently.

Rejects Productions have a reputation for delivering top class plays and this is no exception.  With one of the largest casts I’ve seen in a Rejects production before, this worked due to the talent of each and every member of the cast.

The Ollerenshaw family are the focus of the story, which revolves around the wedding of daughter Deidre, to posh rugger boy Mark Greenhalgh.   The matriarch of the family, Edith Ollerenshaw was played by Victoria Taylor, although in reality far too young for this part, she embraced the northern working mother, with a great accent and strong stage presence. Her husband Harry, played by Kevin Richards, says what he thinks and embraces some interesting doctrines, Kevin was well cast in this role.

Daughter Deirdre was played by Frankie Mae, and brothers Kevin and Peter were played by Jimmy Hooper and Hayden Wagland respectively.  All three were great sparring siblings each embracing their own character well and all worked well as a family unit.

The final family member was Kevin Abrey as Grandad Nip. Kevin was superbly cast as the whinging, rum loving geriatric and had some of the best one-liners in the show. All of which were delivered superbly, this was a masterclass performance.

He was equally matched by Robyn Gowers, who not only played the 3 pub barmaids each with very distinct looks and characters, but she really shone as Muriel Greenhalgh the working class lass who has risen through marriage.  There was a real feeling of Maggie Steed about her performance and I loved it.

The Rugger Boys were the Groom, Mark played by Kieran Bacon and his best man 'Amos' (aka Hamish) played by David Everest-Ring gave us some great laughs along with other good performances from John Sullivan and Aleks Gulliver.

The highlight of the show was Del Synnott as Father Molloy. With a keen Irish accent, he was able to deliver some fantastic humour with his drunken performances. He didn’t stereotype drunken behaviour but understood how someone who has been drinking tries to behave like they are not drunk, resulting in hilarious consequences and a fantastic performance.

The pace and timing throughout was spot on. Mike Harding’s script gives each a character an individual introduction, my only comment is that the actors need to find the light for this monologue, as several were in darkness out of the light, which was a shame.

All in all, this was a hysterical evening’s entertainment and I understand the show is a sell out, which is not surprising. 

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