15,16 September, 2007, Felpham Village Hall
The play is set in a rest home and revolves around two residents: Cooper, who has voluntarily left his family to avoid the indignity of depending on them, and his friend Aylott, both on the verge of some geriatric embarrassment. To the painful ritual of Sunday family visits and empty condescension the two inmates reply with humour and wit, aware that life can only be endured if treated as a comedy.
This play has just that – comedy but at the same time an underlying sadness The action of the play takes place in Cooper’s room on the first Sunday in April and the first Sunday in May – the days his daughter and son-in-law do their duty and visit!
Other than the two main characters of Cooper & Aylott there are some lovely cameo roles including Nurse Wilson and the Home cleaner Mrs Baker, and of course Cooper’s daughter and son-in-law who make the painful ritual of the first Sunday in the month visit all the way from Milton Keynes.
Bob Larbey started his career in collaboration with John Esmonde with ‘Room at the Bottom‘ in 1966 and went on to co-create one of the most successful ITV comedies ever ‘Please Sir‘. Success continued at the BBC with ‘The Good Life‘, ‘Ever Decreasing Circles‘ and ‘Brush Strokes’. Other classics such as ‘A Fine Romance‘ and ‘As Time Goes By‘ number amongst his solo work.
‘A Month of Sundays‘ was first presented at The Nuffield Theatre in 1985 with George Cole playing Cooper and transferred to the Duchess Theatre in London in 1986 and won the London Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy of 1986.
Julia (Cooper’s Daughter)
Peter (Julia’s Husband)
Bognor’s newly formed drama group, The Regis Players, scored a palpable hit with their latest production A Month of Sundays, a bitter sweet comedy written by Bob Larbey (The Good Life, Ever Decreasing Circles, A Fine Romance).
Set in a Surrey rest home, it tells the story of Cooper (Peter Green) and his friend Aylott (Bernard Taylor) having to cope with the daily rituals of nursing home life; lack of privacy, constant meal times, family visits, the demise of bodily functions, and the constant ticking of the clock.
This beautifully written play needs two things to make it work: a good director and a strong cast. This production had both.
Sandy Knight (director), brought to the production her wealth of experience, managing to keep the delicate balance of laughter and tears perfectly.
The cast, without exception, were excellent. Peter Green (Cooper) gave a real tour de force, never off stage, effortlessly carrying this difficult role with professional assurance.
Bernard Taylor (Aylott), whose sensitive portrayal of a man coming to terms with Alzheimer’s, was beautifully played. His realization and acceptance at the end of the play that this was his fate, left even the most hardened members of the audience reaching for their hankies. Sonia Johnson (Julia) and Matthew Blyther (Peter), were both excellent as Cooper’s daughter and son in law, allowing us to see the difficulty, awkwardness and necessity we’ve all felt when visiting elderly relatives.
Julia Webb (Mrs Baker) brought warmth and humour (and a duster!) with her every time she appeared and never once slipped in to caricature. Corinne Court (Nurse Wilson) gave the performance of her life, at last playing against type, she was able display what a fine actress she is.
Congratulations must also go to Elaine Green (Stage manager) and all the backstage crew, for coping effortlessly (and silently) with the scene changes.
Excellent lighting, and sound, both provided by Howard Johnson, made this one of the best nights in the theatre I’ve had for a long time.
If this fledgling company can keep up this standard, it will give Bognor Regis one of the best drama groups in the South.
Well done to all.