Jacq of all Trades, Master of Writing
How to take a bullet for England and come out on top
Shut Your Eyes & Think of England
There's nothing like a British farce to put you in a good mood. Shut Your Eyes and Think of England, brilliantly directed by Dorothy Henderson, whose theatre career began at the age of six in London, won't disappoint.
Prepare to be as confused as the characters themselves when unexpected guests pop in and out of Sir Justin Holbrook's penthouse apartment in the city of London. What is about to unfold has the entire fate of England depending on Holbrook's signature. If he signs, a rich Arab sheik will get financial control of The Holbrook International Investments Corporation and turn England into an Arab nation. If he doesn't sign, the sheik will retrieve the millions he currently has invested, along with all the other Middle Eastern investors who are keeping England afloat, and cause a major stock market crash that will bring England to its knees. Shut Your Eyes and Think of England is the hilarious way the English have of dealing with a major crisis.
And so the fun begins with Sir Justin collapsing in the middle of a call girl's duties. But what really happened in the bedroom? Was his collapse caused by the call girl's saucy antics, or was it an attack by Stoke-Adams? Who is Stoke-Adams, or what is Stoke-Adams? I'm confused already. Is he gay or is he straight? It appears Stokes is having an affair with Sir Justin's pedantic, boring accountant, Arthur Pullen, who calls in unexpectedly on a Saturday morning to audit the books. It's not long before we find out that this boring accountant has a few skeletons in his closet that were locked in there without his consent, all in the name of 'doing your duty for England.'
Sir Frederick Goudhurst appears on the scene with the devastating news of the sheik's surprise arrival in the country. Unfortunately, Sir Justin's attack by Stoke-Adams has left him in no state to sign papers. Sir Frederick sees the only solution is to promptly make adjustments to Pullen's life. In a matter of minutes, Pullen becomes Holbrook; ends up with three wives; is gay on the side, and has gained the title of Lordship. How does this all happen? Book your tickets and treat yourself to a beautifully crafted theatrical piece that will have your head spinning and your sides splitting with laughter.
David Edwards's performance as Arthur Pullen is anything but boring. His energy is exhilarating as he juggles the many balls thrown at him. He does not miss a beat, considering he bounces from being both straight and gay at the flick of a wrist.
Robert Fallon is hilarious once Stoke-Adams attacks him and Amanda-Lee Weatherby is perfectly cast as Stella, the call girl. All eyes were on her when she entered the stage. Her smooth delivery was enchanting.
Nicola den Braber, who plays Joyce Pullen, gave a comical and excellent performance especially when held at knife point. Dawn China plays a very debonair Lady Holbrook. Brian Wilson makes an endearing Mr Rubenstein, the Sheik's lawyer. His frustration at being mistaken for a doctor is executed with vitality and hilarious facial expressions. Noel Thompson seemed to relish his role as the horny Sheik Marami. John McWatters as The Hon. Sir Frederick Goudhurst made his mark when asked to make a cup of tea and couldn't find the instruction manual. Denis Watkins, who finally arrived after hold-ups and break-downs, gave Pullen a run for his money as the gay Dr Cornish.
Shut Your Eyes and Think of England will leave you gobsmacked as characters make life altering decisions. Expect the unexpected and, with all the confusion, make sure you leave the theatre with the same partner you walked in with. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and appreciate John Chapman and Anthony Marriott's clever wit and pun with words. What I appreciate even more is the opportunity to see such a professional production at a community theatre. I encourage you to support the Gold Coast Community Theatre. I have never yet been disappointed in the quality of their shows thanks to the dedication and hard work of the cast and crew. Book early to avoid disappointment.