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Panic Stations at Garrick Theatre

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Panic Stations at the ready: farce hits the right button
Ray Egan, left, Joy Norton, Marsha Holt and Graham Miles are appearing in the farce Panic Stations at Garrick Theatre.

A mix of confusion, surprising disasters, eccentric characters, sexual escapades and misunderstandings form the recipe for Garrick Theatre's first season of 2015.

Written by Derek Benfield and directed by Fred Petersen, Panic Stations follows the hapless Chester Dreadnought who becomes embroiled in one debacle after another when he unsuspectingly buys a property near an artillery range destined for demolition.

A sequence of improbable circumstances ensues with a turbulent trio of wife, newly-acquired girlfriend and mother-in-law, shotgun-wielding father-in-law, clumsy handyman and sergeant on a mission.

Constant explosions galvanise the characters into instant panic and mayhem.

Panic Stations Garrick Theatre comedy farce humour stage performance
Fiona Forster, left, embraces the role of a so-called "sweet young thing

Benfield wrote more than 30 comedies and farces in his lifetime and made notable appearances as an actor in First of the Summer Wine, Hetty Wainthrop Investigates and Rumpole of the Bailey.

"I have always been an avid fan of Derek Benfield," Petersen said. "I've directed three of his farces before, all of which had uproarious success.

"His material is so well-knitted the actors always have a ball.

"With Panic Stations, imagine the problems created when someone tries to hide the truth and then tells misconstrued truths to get himself out of trouble but each time only digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole.

"That's exactly what Chester Dreadnought does when he tries to hide from his wife that their new house is going to be wiped off the surface of the planet."

Panic Stations Garrick Theatre comedy farce humour stage performance
Actors John Forde, left, and Graham Miles let panic and mayhem ensue in the name of comedy in Panic Stations.

Starting out with a revue company in 1956, Petersen performed at his His Majesty's Theatre in Oklahama before appearing with Bobby Limb and Dawn Lake in their Tonight at Eight shows in the late '50s.

He joined Garrick Theatre in 1976 and has been involved as an actor, director, writer and set builder on a variety of productions over the past 38 years, also directing plays at Marloo Theatre and acting at Limelight and Melville Theatres.

Peterson has received Garrick's best play award four times and was named best director for Cash On Delivery at the annual Finley Awards. Most recently, he directed Pardon Me, Prime Minister.

"Farce in itself is very demanding with timing, characterisation and sometimes sound and special effects," Petersen said. "It must be played straight and never try to be funny.

"The script itself stands alone and therefore the actors must discipline themselves in their portrayals."

Panic Stations plays at 8pm January 29, 30, 31, February 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 with 2pm matinees February 1, 8 and 14.

Tickets are $20, $17 concession, $15 children book on 9378 1990 or

Garrick Theatre is at 16 Meadow Street, Guildford, opposite the Stirling Arms Hotel and Guildford Town Hall.

Panic Stations Garrick Theatre comedy farce humour stage performance
Husband-and-wife Heather, left, and Keith Abbott, right with Ann Speicher, centre, in Panic Stations.
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Why? No one knows how to direct a farce better than Fred Petersen can and who doesn't like an abundance of belly laughs?
When: Jan 29, 30, 31, Feb 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 & 14; 2pm Feb 1, 8 & 14
Phone: 9378 1990
Where: Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford WA
Cost: $20, $17 concession, $15 children
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Love the photos, hilarious!
by Wandering Foodies (score: 2|479) 2034 days ago
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