Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Chr
By Jill Gilmer
From the moment you are greeted by the white-haired ladies at the entrance to the playhouse, it’s apparent that this will be no ordinary night at the theatre: this is the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society. This very amateur acting troupe attempts to perform Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with comic results, ranging from falling sets to missed lines to an apparent no-show by the actress who plays Scrooge, forcing the company’s director to try to solicit a replacement from the audience at the start of the play.
Farndale Avenue is a series of 11 plays-within-plays produced by the society ladies’ drama guild, including their attempts to perform Macbeth, a murder mystery and a French farce. Theatre-goers expecting A Christmas Carol may be disappointed. The seasonal favorite is really just a backdrop to showcase a host of theatrical mishaps and odd divergences from the original script. At the end of the play, the cast abandons the story altogether and leads the audience in a game of charades.
Bright spots include an excellent performance by Beverly Sargent, whose character inches across the stage wearing a neck brace she acquired in a supermarket accident. Elizabeth Keefe brings a sweet innocence and natural humor to her characters, especially her portrayal of a snowman in the opening scene. Matthew Patten, the only male member of the women’s drama guild, plays the role of a clueless cast member with just the right level of happy-go-lucky confusion.
Farndale Avenue continues through December 31 at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at (262) 782-4430 or visit www.sunsetplayhouse.com.