Friday, September 22

Whiskey Galore – Chester Little Theatre

The Little Theatre in Chester is a charming community theatre offering two spaces and tonight the Liz Stafford auditorium was full to capacity for this jolly romp of a play.

Compton Mackenzie’s Whisky Galore was made into a famous film and remade a few years ago but this reimagining, adapted for the stage by Philip Goulding, gives us an all-female cast of seven playing thirty characters (although I didn’t count them).  It has some real rip-roaring comedy moments, and it was what attracted director Lexi Fox-Hutchings to bring it to CLT.

The fictitious Pallas Players, a touring theatre troupe in the 1950s, transport us back to 1943 in WWII on the two islands of Little Todday and Great Todday, where a shortage of whisky causes mayhem among the villagers. A shipwreck means 50,000 bottles of whisky must be rescued and hidden before Captain Waggett of the Home Guard and others put a stop to it.

It certainly gives the cast some challenges playing all male and female characters, both English and Scottish. The style is absurd and farcical with many costumes changes and sound effects going wrong, heightened bizarre characters and even a dog! But this cast really rose to the challenge.

The director had gathered an accomplished company for this project all of whom turned in top-notch performances. The programme only gives their Pallas Players characters, so forgive me if I miss any credits.  Kim Finn as Flora Bellerby leader of the troupe, is mainly our intrepid narrator with a clear and mellifluous tone, also becoming various characters like the priest and the policeman with equally eloquent ‘Scottish’.  Megan Oberg gave use real expression and physicality in all her many roles, a delight to watch especially as the leg stretching ‘Brown’ and a very lively dog. Kelly Cowley as mainly the upper-crust Captain Waggett -a great portrait this -loved the section in the car!  Emma Mary showed great versatility, swapping from Mrs Waggett to the local poet, some really convincing characterization.  The talented Paula Condliffe-hughes who played so many parts, the sea -skipper, the doctor and the awful Mrs Campbell who was totally convincing. CJ Moffat as Catriona and as Mr Macroon had a wonderful accent and commanding presence. Dawn Adams as the charming Fred Odd in love with Peggy and the man from the ministry – what was his name? was a spiffing and funny character with great physicality.

The set was quite basic on this small stage, but the revelation of the church was a brilliant touch. Although the director got a lot of the physical and visual comedy, there was an opportunity to really push it more, as there were times the cast were standing talking in the middle of stage and the energy dropped. The lighting and sound was good (even when it was wrong deliberately).  The script is long and could benefit from a few cuts here and there, maybe that wasn’t possible on the licence and of course we did have a delay when the fire alarm went off! To which the cast reacted with great professionalism and a bit of humour.

All in all, this was a fun-packed humorous production with some standout performances and a great evening’s entertainment.  Drink up and enjoy.

Reviewer: Bev Clark

Reviewed: 4th July 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.