Graduating from Hit Film to Stage Success

April 25, 2016

It launched Dustin Hoffman’s career and was one of the most iconic films of the ‘60s. Now ‘The Graduate’ is coming to Newport’s Dolman Theatre.

"Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs Robinson?" asks Ben (Chris Harris). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“Are you trying to seduce me, Mrs Robinson?” asks Ben (Chris Harris). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Benjamin (Chris Harris) is initiated into sex by Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Benjamin (Chris Harris) is initiated into sex by Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Audiences can follow the disastrous sexual odyssey of Benjamin Braddock as he is initiated into sex by the woman he always addresses as Mrs Robinson.

She is a middle-aged married woman with a drink problem, who also happens to be a friend of his parents.

Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) is not happy when Benjamin (Chris Harris) starts dating her daughter Elaine (Catherine Morgan). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Mrs Robinson (Kate Summers) is not happy when Benjamin (Chris Harris) starts dating her daughter Elaine (Catherine Morgan). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

They pressure him to date a girl of his own age and complications arise when the girl is none other than Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine.

A sparkling satire on middle class, aspiring America, the play offers a fascinating take on the expectations of parents and the reflected glory of designer offspring.

The Graduate is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 May at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 14 at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Ben's (Chris Harris). proud parents (Rob and Claire Jacob) welcome him home from college. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Ben’s (Chris Harris) proud parents (Rob and Claire Jacob) welcome him home from college. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

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Play Poses Question: “Just what is funny?”

September 23, 2014

“Humour’s a funny thing,” remarks one of the characters in ‘Dead Funny’, the next production by Newport Playgoers. It’s a play about comedians and comedy, but the drama focuses on the fact that there is no universal agreement about what is funny. Different people laugh at different things.

Members of the Dead Funny Society (played by Simon Hurley, Ros Jones-Griffiths, Chris Edmunds and Luke Bowkett) dust off an old Morecambe and Wise routine. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Members of the Dead Funny Society (played by Simon Hurley, Ros Jones-Griffiths, Chris Edmunds and Luke Bowkett) dust off an old Morecambe and Wise routine. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The action is set during the days in 1992 that saw the death of both Benny Hill and Frankie Howerd. This spate of dying comics comes as a deep blow to the Dead Funny Society, a group of suburban comedy buffs – equipped with much the same mentality as train-spotters – to whom the play introduces us.

Eleanor (Nicky Davies) wants a baby but husband Richard (Simon Hurley) prefers to celebrate the lives of his comedy heroes. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Eleanor (Nicky Davies) wants a baby but husband Richard (Simon Hurley) prefers to celebrate the lives of his comedy heroes. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Eleanor, the main character in the play, is out of step with her husband Richard’s Dead Funny Society and its small membership, all dedicated to celebrating stars of the variety theatre such as Max Miler, Tony Hancock and Tommy Cooper.

The death of Benny Hill provides the impetus for this comedy about impotence, sex therapy and the English sense of humour. Eleanor desperately wants what husband Richard will not give her – a baby – but all he wants is to be left in peace to celebrate his comedy heroes with his friends.

Eleanor doesn’t find Benny Hill the least bit funny. She thinks he’s tasteless and sexist, as do many people.  The undeniable truth is that he has many people rolling in the aisles.

Richard Dymond, the play’s director,  commented, “One of the pleasures of plays such as ‘Dead Funny’ is its ability to stop an audience in its tracks, the laughter flipped into silence as the mood switches from riotous humour to real pain.

“The play reveals how the men in the Dead Funny Society, like their comedy heroes, exist in emotionally dysfunctional states, a bunch of misfits and in no way the “sexual magnets” their sketches would suggest.”

The drama revolves around a very different kind of death – Eleanor and Richard’s marriage is in a state of terminal decay. She is the only one who is able to see this. He prefers to gather his friends round for a custard pie fight and a re-enactment of old Morecambe and Wise routines.

Audiences will find a great deal in this play to make them laugh – and also to reflect upon, as various aspects of human emotions are skilfully explored.

‘Dead Funny’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 15  –18 October at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.