IT TAKES a special person to fill the lead role in a play with just four weeks’ notice.
Luckily for Southwick Players, Susanne Crosby has that quality, taking on the role of Lettice Douffet at the 11th hour and giving what can only be described as an award-winning performance on opening night yesterday.
Director Nettie Sheridan had already asked her to be co-director, secretly thinking she would be perfect for the part, then fate played a hand and she stepped into the role when the originally cast Lettice departed shortly before the production opened at The Barn Theatre, in Southwick.
It is a big role to fill but Susanne did it beautifully, not only hilarious throughout but bringing out the poignancy towards the end. As she is an experienced writer and director, it is no surprise her performance extended from head to toe, with every movement counting.
Her sidekick, Debbie Creissen playing Lotte Schoen, was equally at the top of her game and the pair worked extremely well together. Apart from anything else, Milla Hills deserves a mention for the costumes, which were impressive and spot on.
Although these two dominate the stage, there are six others in the cast who gave some excellent cameo performances.
At the start, they are on and off stage three times as three totally different groups of tourists. Sally Diver, for example, changed from an old woman to a mother with baby in just a blink of an eye.
She had already had the audience in hysterics as she mingled in the bar before the start, in character as a doddery old lady.
Phoebe Cook, at just 17, made a marvellous Miss Framer and showed herself to be an excellent character actress with good comedy timing.
Steve Darvill also had the audience in hysterics as the solicitor Bardolph, when Lettice got him marching around stage banging a pretend drum.
Set designer Len Shipton kept up his high standards and delivered a top-notch set with an impressive stately home staircase that turned into a well-furnished basement flat.
Top marks to the Players for the goings-on outside the window, too, away from the main action and not even commented upon in the script but still providing amusement, including a man whose bicycle was stolen, leaving only a wheel chained to the fence.
Lettice and Lovage continues at the Barn Theatre until Saturday, with performances at 7.30pm daily and a 2.30pm Saturday matinée. Visit southwickplayers.org.uk for more information.