SEASONAL SAUCE (or A Little of What You Fancy!)
devised and compiled by Helen Watson.
Watermill Theatre (West Berkshire Playhouse) To 6 February 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu 2.30pm except 6 February 1.30pm and 6.30pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS 01635 46044.
Review: Mark Courtice 27th January 2010.
Winter Warmer rather than Spring Chicken
Quite what the season is that we are celebrating at the end of a cold January and the beginning of a cold February is something of a mystery, not exactly clarified by this show. Helen Watson (or Miss Helen Watson – the programme gives everyone their title just like the Edwardians did) has been making a seasonal entertainment for Newbury’s Watermill for twenty-three years. This one is series of songs and sketches, with some audience participation thrown in.
Apparently this year Ms Watson has made changes to the format, but the largely elderly audience seemed to know what to expect, and got just that, as they enthusiastically join in with ‘My Old Man’ and other music hall favourites, or gasp at saucy double entendres.
There is a company of seven (four Misters and three Misses), including a chairman and a pianist. Richard Gauntlett’s chairman keeps things moving, and contributes a couple of illusions as he banters with the audience. One breast joke while singing ‘Tit Willow’ from The Mikado might be funny but to milk it with the gag repeated about 10 times in 5 minutes feels like thin material. The audience greets Howell Evans and Patricia Kane like old friends, with their ‘Toff and Char’ routine.
Elsewhere, there is more charm from Helen Watson herself, and a good voice from Judith Hibbert. Musically Martin Waddington keeps things on track at the piano. As the youngest person present by a couple of decades David Roberts seems a bit lost.
With jokes as old as the combined age of the audience, routines from the ark, and an enthusiastic rummage in the archive of music hall, maybe we are celebrating the passing of a golden age rather than welcoming spring 2010.
Company: Richard Gauntlett (Master of Ceremonies), Judith Hibbert, David Roberts, Georgina Todd
Guest Artistes: Howell Evans, Patricia Kane, Peter John.
Director Helen Watson.
Musical Director Martin Waddington.