Waiting for God
We're loving this production at Leatherhead Theatre that smashes the stereotypes about what it is to be old. It's old fashioned theatre with a sassy modern attitude.
Remember the Nineties sitcom Waiting for God? I don’t, personally, hailing from Oz and all, and only arriving on these shores in the year 2000.
But having seen the opening night of Leatherhead Rep Theatre’s adaptation at Leatherhead Theatre, I was moved to do a little digging. Written by Michael Atkins, who was in the audience at Leatherhead last night, the BBC1 sitcom centres around the lives to two spirited oldies – Diana and Tom – who live at a retirement home in Bournemouth.
It’s a delightful story, and the first production in the Leatherhead Autumn Rep Season. And last night’s show went off without a hitch.
For the uninitiated, rep theatre involves a company of professional actors taking up residence at a theatre for a month, rehearsing one play during the day and performing another one at night. I wrote about it in April. It’s incredibly impressive, given the quick turnaround these actors have for each production – and well worth booking seats for if you love theatre.
Directed by Larry Rew, Waiting for God is performed by eight actors. Claire Dyson takes the role of sparky and elegant Diana Trent, a former war photojournalist who’s revelling in her new-found role as a grumpy old lady. She’s caustic, gloomy, cynical and funny as hell, delivering her gags with razor-sharp timing. I hope I’m just like her when I get old!
Edmund Dehn plays the role of Tom, her new neighbour, a widower for 15 years who’s been exiled to the retirement home by his luckless son Geoffrey (or Geoffy as he’s often called). Geoffy is played by the wonderful William Hazel who starred in the spring rep season productions, most notably as Jim Hacker the PM in Yes, Prime Minister, and he carries the role well.
Emma Mulkern also returns to Leatherhead, this time as the ditzy Jane one of the managers of the retirement home alongside Samuel Lane as Harvey, on whom she has a massive crush. Emma was brilliant in the spring as Poopay, the self-styled specialist sexual consultant, in Alan Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors and she doesn’t disappoint again.
The production trundles along at the perfect pace, peppered with witty one-liners, innuendo and saucy humour. The storyline centres mostly on Diana and Tom, but it’s fleshed out with elements of what’s going on in the lives of Geoffrey’s and Diana’s niece Sarah (Hannah Brackstone-Brown).
The set has been imaginatively designed by up-and-coming designer Christina Cammarota, with most of the action happening in the retirement home, in either the dining room, balcony or bedroom! There’s a clever scene towards the end, where the balcony setting is turned into a very believable church thanks to some creative lighting.
If you’re a fan of the TV series, I’ve no doubt you’ll love this production and may even recognise some of the scenes. But if – like me – you’ve never seen it before, you’ll still find it fun and enjoyable. It’s an entertaining show, well executed and perfectly put together. It might be old fashioned theatre, but it’s modern and sassy to the core.
‘Waiting for God’ runs until Sat 10 Nov. ‘The Railway Children’ will be on from Tues 13 – Sat 17 Nov, and ‘Seasons Greetings’ is on from Tues 20 – Sat 24 Nov.
The Leatherhead Theatre, 7 Church Street, Leatherhead, KT22 8DN. Tel: 01372 365141. leatherheadrep.com