A POPULAR set of characters made a welcome return to the Room Upstairs at Redditch’s Palace Theatre with A Darker Shade of Beige.
The intimate venue provided the perfect setting for the play, which is set in the ‘Autumn Leaves’ nursing home.
As with the first one – 50 Shades of Beige – there were plenty of one-liners, innuendo and observational comedy.
And the chemistry between the characters was excellent too – those who saw the first one will feel like they have never been away but it also works as a stand-alone play so those who didn’t will equally enjoy it.
The cleverest thing about this play, which is written and directed by Roger Goddard, is the way it is delivered. In the first act the scene is gently set in such a way that, although not much seems to happen in reality, you subconsciously get to know the characters and their traits and by the interval have an emotional attachment to each and every one.
Lovable rogue Tom (David Healing) and pessimistic Bill (Ken Messenger) perfectly complement each other, showcasing beautifully their ‘bosom brothers’ friendship.
Meanwhile prim and proper Joy (Vanessa Morgan) and forgetful and confused Norma (Joy Williamson) both provide different elements, along with the sense of caring and the ‘we’ll put up with each other’ character differences.
Kind Nurse Wilson (Anja Parkes) brings the ‘homely feel’ in more ways than one – the safety, security and the protection from the outside world.
The other characters – Tom’s son David (James Cartwright) and Bill’s wife Sheila (Cathy Stokes) provide the link to the outside world that seems so far away from the bubble they are in. The interactions between Tom and David and Bill and Sheila show some of the struggles which arise when family members are in a home whilst the others are living independent lives – from juggling busy lives to find time to visit to needs not being addressed.
The second half of the piece began with some great observational comedy before each of the characters embark on their own individual journeys.
Because of the way you get to know the characters in the first act, you want each individual to achieve what is best for them whilst at the same time you want them to stay together.
Each character’s traits are accentuated whilst they follow the path best for them, leading to some fantastic thought-provoking theatre.
In truth, this talented cast bringing to life this well-written script ensures you cannot help thinking about your own life and the lives of your family and friends as you leave the auditorium.