SIDMOUTH – SIDMOUTH SUMMER PLAY FESTIVAL
MANOR PAVILION THEATRE
LUCKY NUMBERS by Mike Yeaman
2 hours 25 minutes – 1 interval
Manor Pavilion Theatre Box Office – 01395 514413
REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 27 JUNE 2022
Laughing out loud is one of the best tonics available and it’s free and makes you feel good. Finding the mechanism to provoke the laughs is not always easy. May I recommend ‘LUCKY NUMBERS’ by Mike Yeaman?
The premise is simple. Nana lives with her somewhat dysfunctional family. She is getting on and has become absent-minded and then, one day, she wins big on the lottery. What will she do with the money? All the family wants a slice, but they won’t get anything if they don’t buck their ideas up and make something of themselves.
Simple ideas only work if they are executed well and in this play Yeaman does just that. ‘Nana’ is a gloriously written part for an older actor; the character completely dictates the action and the performance of Anita Graham is just wonderful. Her delivery is that of a deadpan comedian; as she offers up a stream of hilarious insults and observations about life and her family; the seats are rocking as the audience release deeply felt laughs and gasps. The audacity of it all! Bridget Lambert (Janice) and Dafydd Gwyn Howells (Ronnie) are completely convincing as Nana’s daughter and son-in-law – rather more interested in themselves than others. Heather Wilkins plays the stroppy Goth/Emo granddaughter Lisa with great conviction and Reece Yarnold is just perfect as the ever-eating grandson Steven – a really refreshing, energetic and winning performance. Alec Fellows-Bennett adds to the laughs as Janice’s lover, Mick and there is a splendidly funny cameo from Owen Landon as the leather-clad Shane – Lisa’s on/off boyfriend.
The script has been adjusted to be set in the local area and the many references throughout to familiar places and names adds to the comedy and never feels forced or unnecessary. The writing seems to slightly lose its tightness in the second half and the laughs dry up for a while, but it is brought back to life by a twist in the plot which I will not reveal here.
Director, Claire Evans, brings out the comedy at every given moment and is well served by her cast; she also handles the end of the play with a sensitive hand on the tiller.
The added bonus of this play is that it is about real life – in many ways – this is a real family with its ups and downs, it is also about old age and dementia. Yeaman’s writing envelopes all these matters into a very funny and affectionate story. It is a delight and this production more than does it justice.
CAST & CREATIVES
NANA – ANITA GRAHAM
JANICE– BRIDGET LAMBERT
RONNIE – DAFYDD GWYN HOWELLS
LISA – HEATHER WILKINS
STEVEN – REECE YARNOLD
MICK – ALEC FELLOWS-BENNETT
SHANE – OWEN LANDON
WRITER – MIKE YEAMAN
DIRECTOR – CLAIRE EVANS
DESIGN – ANDREW BECKETT
LIGHTING & SOUND OPERATION & DESIGN – JOE UNDERWOOD
COSTUME SUPERVISOR – JANET HUCKLE
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR – PAUL TAYLOR-MILLS
SEASON PRODUCER – CLAIRE EVANS