The Misery of Provincial Theatre

Last night I went to see an am-dram production in the village hall of John Dole’s (who?) play ‘Lucky For Some’. Never heard of it? Same here.

Set in an English holiday camp in the nineteen-sixties, it was always going to be a Hi-Di-Hi farce, but nothing prepared me for the embarrassing misery of ‘Lucky For Some’.

I didn’t have time to Google Dole, but it would have been a waste of time. There’s nothing on him except a list of plays in Doollee, five I think. So it got in under the radar. Beware. There are plays like this still in-production in provincial theatre. Hence my blog.

‘Lucky For Some’ is the worst play I’ve ever seen. I wondered how the players found a copy of the script that hadn’t been burned. Why did they want to put themselves, and us, through it?  To start with it’s long, secondly the lines are impossibly contrived and unfunny, thirdly the plot is implausible to the extent that in the first scene, Dole felt it necessary to explain, for plot purposes, that the toilet in the chalet had another exit.

The local actors, all amateurs, were brilliant, and they carried off the dreadful material as best they could, but it’s many years since British people found it necessary to include screens in rooms for men to change behind. It’s no longer rude or funny for men to take their trousers off in front of women on stage. One over-long gag involved two men hiding behind a screen while they changed their trousers. The screen was removed to reveal them in their underwear. No one laughed. It’s not surprising. Most of us were induced into a coma by endless jokes about wet whistles, peckers, stove pipes and farting li-los. I argued with my partner about the worst joke:

“I’m fishing for my trousers.”

“Fly fishing?”

You just had to be there. Not.

My worst line? Christopher the hapless husband, who winds-up in a chalet with a French stripper, tries to put both legs into one leg of his trousers. Mister Lott the father-in-law says, “You’ve got the wrong hole.” No laugh.

And yet it was sold out. It was the third and final night. All I can say is, what a shame. People will attend small, provincial theatres like this, but not to see witless, out-moded plays like ‘Lucky For Some’? Anything would be better.