Strange: the chorus in the play - The Progressives
Strange: the chorus in the play – The Progressives

ACT gets its act together.

Flushed with enthusiasm the newly formed Axbridge Community Theatre looked to staging a play about Axbridge that would fill the town hall – and its empty bank account.

In 2004 I penned a satire of the town’s annual charity progressive supper aided and abetted by Tony Wilson, Annabel Hackney and John Bailey. The idea was to follow a couple experiencing problems with their relationship during the course of the evening as they fell out and finally made up during the three courses. Another aspect of the plot was to ensure they didn’t eat anything – a challenge considering the entire evening is dedicated to over indulgence.

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Style: Baz Hamblin played a comic butler in the drama

To comment on the social does and don’ts were the Progressives, a sort of modern day chorus who chip in with asides and even intervene during the night of highs and lows, puddings and bottles of plonk. One of the trickiest aspects of the drama was to avoid basing any of the characters on real people in the town. Despite steering a careful course of not identifying anyone in particular I was accused by some of lampooning some of the residents in particular the so-called Nazi Nurse. Her name will remain forever a secret – but I still say she doesn’t exist in order to stay out of jail.

The cast included the main protagonists Molly and Steve played by Annabel Hackney and Chris Jarman, with Tony Wilson and Janet Holmes as their long suffering partners and Jeff Hill as a pyramid salesman whose marketing evening gets muddled up with one of the courses. I played the beautiful Julie Goode, while future mayor of the town Baz Hamblin played Slop the Butler.

Unsettling: Harry was the tipsy Julie Goode in the play
Unsettling: Harry was the tipsy Julie Goode in the play

Janie Gray played an over sexed Pam Duse and Pete Harding was the drunken Mr Drink in the chorus. The cast was large as the drama was played out over three courses including extra scenes featuring an assortment of characters associated with the annual event. Since the play’s theme was a social send-up about Axbridge itself, it was perhaps unsurprising that the drama directed by John Bailey filled the town hall with packed audiences and set ACT on a more stable financial footing.

Harry Mottram

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