May 11--It's a risky choice when a community theater stages a comedy that requires a glossary in the playbill to help the audience understand the jokes.
Yet Attic Productions takes that risk in its latest production, "Too Soon for Daisies," a dark British comedy-thriller penned by William Dinner and William Morum, and pulls it off thanks to enthusiastic direction and a talented cast.
The setting is Trotley, a small seaside village in Suffolk, England, in the 1950s. Three elderly women -- Freda Grey , Joy Philpotts and Edie Boggs -- have liberated themselves from Even Tide, a retirement home for the impoverished where they feel like hopeless captives. After making their escape in a row boat, they stumble upon what appears to be an abandoned cottage and begin to make themselves at home.
Things get complicated when the house's new owner, Paul Vanderbloom, comes to claim his property and tries to send the uninvited trio on their way. Things get even more complicated when Vanderbloom suffers a fatal heart attack.
Desperate to avoid returning to the dreadful old-age home, the ladies hatch a convoluted plot to take control of their lives and adopt the "orphaned" house.
Unexpected twists are provided by Dr. John Hunter, a nosy neighbor, Joe Pollup, a too-helpful handyman, and the arrival of Jackie Jackson, Vanderbloom's niece, all of whom threaten to unravel the complex cover story the conniving squatters have crafted.
The laughs in this play are generated by the chemistry between the actresses playing the runaway senior citizens.
Trina Yancey is splendid as Freda, the self-appointed leader of the group; Joann Hoyt is a hoot as Edie, a pickpocket with a taste for brandy; Nancy Lawrence shines as Joy, an unpublished author of bad poetry. James Honaker (Dr. Hunter), Terry Mosley (Joe) and Piper Gaul (Jackie) round out the fine supporting cast.
Everyone keeps the energy high and the plot moving, even though the Cockney accents sometimes makes the dialogue difficult to understand.
Director Phil Boyd deserves credit for the steady pacing of this show -- a real challenge for a play that runs just over two hours -- and accentuating physical comedy in a really wordy script. If you weren't familiar with the story of the infamous Guy Fawkes, you will be well versed by the end of this show.
Kudos to the three leading ladies, too, for handling an unfortunate series of sound glitches during Thursday's opening night performance with grace, turning the ear-rattling annoyance into a big laugh for the audience.
If you are a fan of quirky British comedy, then "Too Soon for Daisies" will provide an entertaining evening.
(c)2013 The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Va.)
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