Contributed - Benefactors latest show

Text Carolyn Kain
Photography Peter Kain

Bringing together a cast of five talented actors and comic plays, a new production ‘ Up, Down and Sideways’ was staged at the Raj in Hotel Garbe last week.

Following a splendid three-course Indian meal served in the stylish restaurant, the performance was a great success showcasing the commitments of the ‘Benefactors’ theatre group. All proceeds from their productions are donated to local charities.

Each of the one-act plays gives an insight into the partnership between a man and woman. Scripted by three different writers, two of them prize-winning Americans –Diana Amsterdam and Julius Tasca – and the third, British playwright and novelist, John Bowen. The common theme – misunderstandings between members of the opposite sex – commences with ‘Data Entry’.

When the lights come up on stage Kevin (played by Thomas Hartmann) is semi-naked lying prostrate and happy on a bed. His computer date, Carrie (performed by Diane Cantillon Ings) enters from the bathroom in a pink silk dressing gown. She reveals a story of deception and desire.

The dialogue is convincingly delivered, racy and engrossing, concluding as the couple jump blithely into bed.

The next drama, ‘One naked woman and a fully clothed man’ is set in the cinema stalls. We listen in on the thoughts of Janet (Barbara Mountford) as she sits beside her husband, Robert (John Mountford) watching an erotic film. Threatened by the movie stars pert breasts, she recalls that over the years her own have satisfied the needs of three hungry, teething babies. As thoughts of dustballs, children’s wellingtons and domestic life hone in, she wonders if the sexually explicit film might be turning her husband on!

The audience - watching the two actors watching the film - is presented with a range of highly entertaining facial expressions and amusingly eccentric body language.
The third play, ‘Fantasy Bond’ sees another couple Alice (Sandy Whittle) and Charles (Thomas Hartmann) in a Five Star hotel suite. Alice views the holiday as their second honeymoon but Charles is on the brink of announcing an affair.
Alice’s endearing personality is accurately portrayed, as is Charles, who procrastinates throughout the cleverly written script. The unexpected ending makes clear that, just like Sybil from Faulty Towers, Alice has the measure of her husband.
Bringing the show to a chronological conclusion, there is an older couple, Audrey (Diane Cantillon Ings) and Julian (John Mountford) in ‘Silver Anniversary’.
A dark comedy, it exposes the mutual destruction of a married couple. The audience is told, “the marriage hasn’t always been pleasant but it’s been easy.”
An exceptionally well-performed role, Diane Cantillon Ings is hard-boiled, straight-laced and angry, quite different from the frivolous Carrie having an affair in ‘Data Entry’.

Like the other actors Diane has been involved with many local productions, in her case often as director of ‘Aperitivo Performance Group,’ based at Sao Bras Museum. ‘Benefactors’ unites thespians from several different theatre groups across the Algarve, performing and raising money for worthwhile causes.

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