Sparkling double bill is the promise from Chichester Community Theatre

The Odds of Being Earnest  - Gareth Williams & Paula Tinker photo by Rosey Purchase
The Odds of Being Earnest - Gareth Williams & Paula Tinker photo by Rosey Purchase

Chichester Community Theatre are promising Two Sparkling Comedies for a Summer Evening when they return to their home at Chichester College for the Festival of Chichester.

Performances will be on Thursday, July 11, 7.30pm; Friday, July 12, 7.30pm; and Saturday, July 13, 7.30pm at the College’s Riverside Theatre.

They will be offering a double bill comprising The Odds of Being Earnest by Greg Mosse and The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw.

In Greg’s piece, the scene is Monte Carlo in 1914, 20 years after The Importance of Being Earnest for a chance meeting between Lady Bracknell and Canon Chasuble. In the Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare, intending to meet the Dark Lady, accidentally encounters Queen Elizabeth I and attempts to persuade her to create a national theatre.

Directing both will be Chichester Community Theatre founder Roger Redfarn who has also directed the company’s pop-up theatre contribution to this year’s Festival.

“Somebody sent me a play where George Bernard Shaw goes into a flower shop run by a woman called Eliza Doolittle, and it finally evolves that he says to her ‘I invented you!’

“And I said ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if Lady Bracknell got into a train carriage 20 years after the events of The Importance of Being Earnest and there was Canon Chasuble sitting there’… and Greg being Greg, three weeks later he had written the play!

“The play is an hour long and so I needed something to put with it, and I remembered a play I had read years ago called The Dark Lady of the Sonnets by George Bernard Shaw. Bernard Shaw wrote the play in 1910 and it played at the Haymarket at a time when he was campaigning for a national theatre. They got the land and they got the money and then World War One came along and put a stop to it.

“In the play Shakespeare goes to meet the Dark Lady of his Sonnets and he meets Elizabeth I who is going out for a little stroll having just had a very bad nightmare. The Dark Lady comes along and she is furious because she thinks Shakespeare is having an affair with Elizabeth I. But Shakespeare is trying to persuade Elizabeth I to build a national theatre for his more serious, quality plays. He says he needs a national theatre, but she says ‘I am not sure the Treasury would go for that! I don’t think you will have a national theatre for another 400 years!

“It’s a bit like the first play with unexpected people meeting unexpected people. I think it should be a very entertaining double bill. We are certainly enjoying rehearsals, and they are a lovely company.

“Chichester Community Theatre has been going for four years now, and it has gone very well. The pop-up theatre we have done at this year’s Festival of Chichester has been wonderful. We have been getting good audiences, and we have got a very good following now.

“I am thinking ahead with all sorts of ideas for next year. I don’t think we will be doing something in the autumn, but we are thinking ahead and we have got a good idea for next year’s Festival of Chichester, an outdoor production that we might do. We have got some lovely ideas and we have got some actors that really enjoy working with us.”

Tickets on http://www.thenovium.org/boxoffice; boxoffice@chichester.gov.uk; 01243 816525 or 775888 or you can book in person at The Novium, Tower Street, Chichester.

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