The Concord Journal
Christmas is a time for "A Chorus of Disapproval"
By Jacob Armitage  

Concord Players

"A Chorus of Disapproval" by Alan Ayckbourn is the Concord Players' fall production now being presented at 51 Walden. It is taisty British fare for this holiday season, and is entirely digestible if the enthusiasm of the Concord audience is anything to go by.

We have the meat, Dafydd Llewellyn (James O'Brien"; the cranberry sauce, Fay (Maureen Connors); the yam, Hannah (Pamela Schweppe); and the mashed potato, Enid (Sarah Kindleberger.) Guy (Johathan Ashford) is the centerpiece - and quite a daisy he is!

We have the pickles, Bridget (Anne Damon) and Linda (Jean Williams)' and the palate-cleansing Rebecca (Patricia Butcher.) If Jack Sweet as Jarvis is the soup, Douglas Snaders (Crispin) is the nuts - pure pistachio, Ian (Nick Grant) and Ted (Rik Pierce) are the vegatbles without whom the meal is incomplete, but was it brussel sprouts and beans, or squash and scallopoed corn?

The play is about what happens when a troupe of amateur players get tangled up in each other's lives (iffy real estate shenanigans' swinging sex' disenchanted marriage' teenage rebellion) whilst they attempt to rehearse "The Beggar's Opera."

The audience may be forgiven if it fails to draw a parallel between the bland non-hero of Ayckbourn's play and Macbeth, but concupiscent barmaids are often similar wherever you find them.

The Concord Players cope energetically with the convoluted plot, and manage with varying success to overcome the weakness of characterization in Ayckbourn's script. JamesO'Brien carries the burden of the action and deserves high praise for his convincing vigor. Jack Sweet and Maureen Conners also give effective performances.

"A Chorus of Disapproval" was directed by John Barrett. Bringing to life the play, especially the interplay between characters, requires cool judgment, a steady hand, and a taste for subtlety. The fine support of the production crew surely made his task more manageable, but it is not entirely clear why it was necessary to utilize the entire length and breadth of the stage (arelong exits "in" nowadays?) And why did the pianist - a highly competent musician - have to endow herself with eyes in the back of her head in order to provide accompaniment for the singing? The interpolation of music, from "The Beggar's Opera," between scenes was awkwardly presented because of the distance between singer and pianist.

The sets provided interest and variety. Special mention should be made of the quality of the detail, especially for the barroom. The crew deserves credit for their efficient changes.

Alan Ayckbourn has written an impressive number of plays. "A Chorus of Disapproval" is his 31st. He seems to have a recipe for success that involves, though doesn't always evoke, amusement. It is lighthearted enough, even farcial, and in this day and age, a giggle here, a chuckle there, well, how do you spell veal? Very Exciting And Lascivious ... No? Viciously Energetic And Lingering?

If you haven't seen "A Chorus of Disapproval," you should make an effort to find time for it during the upcoming holiday weekend. It will provide you with a break from the stress of the season, and you will probably never forget that veal.