Sand Castles: ‘A damn good laugh’

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WHEN THE late Bob Larbey took up on an idea of his wife’s, Trish, to write ‘Sand Castles’ – a play about class warfare at the seaside – his declared aim was to produce for his audiences ‘a damn good laugh’.

A damn good laugh is exactly what director, Roger Brown and his talented cast delivered for packed houses this week at the Javea Players’ Studio Theatre.

William and Margaret Patterson, played by James Ward and Jennifer Kellow-Ward, are in their sixties, upper-middle-class and very reserved. Stan and Bernice Billet on the other hand, played by Nigel Poole and Gillian Hodges, are not at all reserved – he is the most awful social climber and she is verging on the tipsy most of the time.

The Pattersons and the Billets have been holidaying at the same seaside resort for years. So many years in fact, that the Pattersons have decided it appropriate for them to get on Christian name terms.

Both couples own beach huts at the resort and it is a source if immense pride to Stan – he believes it says loudly and clearly that he is one of the ‘right sort of people’. It naturally follows that if you are the right sort of people you cannot have the wrong sort of people invading your space…

A beachcomber, played by Peter Messinger, is the first to invade. Harmless and non-too bright, the heavy sarcasm that William employs to convey that he is not exactly welcome goes right over his head.

Next is a Mrs Penfold, played by Rosemary Brown, a woman labelled by Margaret as dreadful, obnoxious and politically too far to the left.

Then comes a couple of wrinklies trying to fly a kite played by Penny and Keith Grant.

A Mrs Newman who Carole Saunders portrays as frighteningly formidable, demands that her little girl is allowed to use the toilet of one of the huts and along with threats of physical violence refuses to believe that beach huts don’t have toilets.

A woman named Ida, played by Josephine Messinger, actually dares to sit down in front of the huts and to crown it all, a chirpy working-class lad named Doug, played by Mike Martin, who is accompanied by two attractive twenty-something young ladies, Graciela Kaplan McKenna and Lesley Davis, rents the hut between William’s and Stan’s.

Well, renters are just not proper beach hut people, are they?

Stan has brought his mother with him and she, played by Pat Kitching, is the sort of old trout that creates chaos wherever she goes. He has also brought his sister in-law, Pauline, played by Debbie Saunders, she is rather nice and Doug thinks she is very nice – there has got to be a little bit of romance in any good play.

Should you meet any of the characters on a beach they would undoubtedly make you run a mile but on stage, in front of the splendid beach huts – that stage manager, Barry Saunders built – they proved to be tremendous fun.

Sand Castles has been a sell-out across all six-nights. Javea Players thank each and every one of the audiences and look forward to seeing you all again for the next production… watch this space!

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