REVIEW: Proscenophobia (Stage Fright), Ecclesall Parish Hall

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Ecclesall Theatre Company have not chosen the catchiest of titles for their latest offering. Luckily the cast avoid stage fright since nobody is required to pronounce the veritable tongue-twister.

All credit to director Graham Millar for varying the personnel for this whodunit, however it may have benefited from some of the regular stalwarts.

The cast are not helped by writer Bettine Manktelow’s risibly implausible plot, unrealistic dialogue and the unlikely twist.

Sue Preston and Hilary Marsh play veteran actresses Addie and Millie who are trying to stave off their twilight years. The notoriously bitchy and incestuous world of theatre is alive and well as they, themselves stage a thriller. Addie and Millie’s prickly friendship may be down to having an ex-husband, Ed, played by David Cheetham, in common.

Some interesting truisms are witnessed. The superstitious nature of actors is apparent as Ed causes Millie bad luck by speaking to her reflection in the mirror, rather than directly to her. Fortunately nobody mentions “The Scottish Play” or wishes the players good luck. The actresses are outrageously rude to each other rather than doing it behind their back. Millie tells Pearl, Jane Shawyer, she should use more make-up whilst Addie questions Millie’s bedroom repertoire.

Rhiannon Millar stars as Judy, the tetchy Assistant Stage Manager and Bill Darwin is Justin James, the Company Manager with money troubles.

Manktelow’s one act play, Charity Begins was recently performed by ETC at the SADATA one act festival.