“Sit down, relax, and enjoy The Opposite Sex”. Ooh - er! When the audience is given this instruction before a show begins, you know things are about to heat up!
This was The Leighton Buzzard Drama Group’s first play of 2018, David Tristram’s dinner party drama about two comedy couple’s in a sticky situation - and we’re not talking about the gravy thickness!
As ‘Tainted Love’ blasted out of the speakers, giving a big Soft Cell clue that the main characters were going to do anything but relax, the audience travelled back in time to a world of shoulder pads, miners’ strikes, and champagne-swirling yuppies.
Mark Croft and Jo Taylor star as a middle class 80s couple having a midlife crisis. Their characters, Mark and Vicky, have drifted apart; he spends more time at the office to wine and dine his female clients, so much so, that his paranoid jumpsuit-wearing wife is convinced he’s having an affair.
The audience is left in stitches in a matter of minutes, as Vicky tosses Mark’s dinner across the floor, before an Avon lady, Judith, played by Trish Turner, arrives.
But what trouble could an Avon lady cause, apart from recommending the wrong shade of blue eye shadow?
As it turns out, quite a lot, because Judith and Mark used to date. With Vicky still unaware of this, Mark invites Judith and her husband, Eric, to a dinner party - awful for the characters but brilliant fun for the audience!
Jo’s Vicky is a tall, blonde firecracker, intellectually confident but partial to throwing a plate or two and sneaking in snide remarks - her character begins to crack as Jo shows that the years of mistrust are really niggling at Vicky.
Her ‘opposite’, Mark, is a man of ying and yang, clumsy and awkward, prone to a posh tantrum, yet cunning enough to pretend that he doesn’t know Judith!
Trish Turner, who plays Mark’s old flame, admits she found her character difficult to understand at first: “timid and shy with not much about her”, but later discovered that she had layers.
Trish played Judith brilliantly, a browbeaten yet cheerful peacemaker, whose only way to put down her husband is to ask him how much he’s had to drink - but don’t dare underestimate her! As the truth comes out, Trish’s acidic Judith had the audience cheering her along!
Rob Taylor meanwhile did a fantastic job of getting the audience to really dislike Eric! Fed up of his “simple” wife, Eric can’t find enough ways to belittle Judith. A lecturer who wears “communist”-red socks, he isn’t shy about expressing his disgust about being brought to dinner in a yuppie’s house, either!
As Mark and Eric bicker, the wives try to diffuse the situation - but it looks like it’s too late...
Hats off (or should I say an 80s ‘Raspberry Berets off!) to the four cast members. Each had terrific comic timing and there were more sarky insults than Basil Fawlty and Blackadder.
With food throwing, fist fights, and fast one-liners, you’ll certainly be laughing from start to finish.
The show is on tonight (April 14) at 8pm in the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre.