Beside the sea in November

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I ventured to The South Holland Centre in Spalding on a cold misty November evening to be greeted by fairground organ music, the smell of fish and chips and staff dressed in their summer finest, wrote JON MOLSON.

This set the tone for an evening ‘beside the sea’ brought to us by the latest SADOS production Sandcastles a story of the divisions in English class set amidst the unlikely backdrop of three seaside beach huts. As the play opened we were treated to a very colourful set with believable beach huts, beach and a back drop of blue sky and sun. We even had the sound of the sea in the background throughout the play adding to the overall experience of being at the seaside.

The play is full of characters I am sure we all recognise from somewhere. Beach hut owners William, who has a wicked streak and a bit of an eye for the ladies, played with style by Martin Tyrell and his snobby wife Margaret, played with confidence by Bev Moore. Next we meet their beach hut neighbours Stan, a salesman, desperate to maintain the peace and continuity of the ‘beach hut community‘ played with gusto and energy by Clive Bourne, and his wife Bernice, who just goes along with things aided by a seemingly bottomless bottle of wine, played with conviction by Jane Moss. This family montage is completed by the initially naïve Pauline, who by the end of the play is a transformed character and finally Mother, complete with overcoat, scarf, hat boots and brolly. A classic comedy character reminding me in no small measure of ‘Grandma’ in the old Giles cartoons, a superb comedy performance by Mandie Collier.

The peace of the ‘beach community’ is threatened when one of the beach huts is sold and rented out for the season much to the disgust and concern of the regulars. Who would they get as their new neighbours? Their question is soon answered by the arrival of Doug and his two nieces (Were they really his nieces, we will never know). The divisions begin to show, especially from Stan who goes to all manner of lengths to preserve his domain with hilarious consequences. William on the other hand seems very taken with the nieces - the young, seductive Becky and Debs (Laura Coates and Abigail Bourne, and who can blame him). Throw into the mix three irate women who feel they’ve been socially discriminated against by the beach hut regulars (played by Amanda Whiting, Jenna Kennedy Smith and Jenifer Barber who all certainly made their presence felt), a beach boundary dispute and stand-off, a dotty beachcomer (wonderful cameo from Nigel Hancocks) and the recipe is for fun and comedy which was duly delivered.

There were a couple of twists in the tail as Pauline and Doug, who were well portrayed by Sam Hunt and Simon Temple, end up going home together and a poignant moment at the very end involving William and Margaret.

Well done to all the cast and production team involved, everyone played their part in providing a large chunk of summer warmth and comedy on a cold November evening.