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Lost the Plot

Worcester Swan Studio


Worcestershire is blessed to have a talented and prolific playwright in Nick Wilkes. ‘Lost the Plot’ is his 24th play.  This two-hander is a witty and humorous piece with elements of mystery.

The play introduces us to two cousins whose life is spent digging holes. Sam and Bill divide their time between digging holes in the cemetery for the occasional burial, and other pursuits.

Bill digs holes on the roads for the council, Sam digs for information in the library.  While Bill is more fully occupied in the holes business, Sam has more time to spend reading. He is curious, interested in exploring things through books and on the computer.

Gravediggers have a rather black sense of humour; these two provide that for the audience. The two characters are well defined and differentiated. The more aggressive Bill clearly has some secrets he is hiding, even from his cousin Bill, who seems younger, more innocent as well as intellectually more alive. Bill is more emotional, more impacted by the death of his Sally; Sam seems less troubled by the emigration of his girlfriend who subsequently ditches him. 

The two cousins embark on the unravelling of the mystery of the unexpected discovery of an extra buried coffin. There is collaboration as well as moments of tension between them. Their quaint habits such as recording the contents of their pockets when they arrive on duty at the cemetery provide further humour and mystery. In the midst of the sardonic comments, they are trying to unravel the puzzle of a buried ancestor.

Nick Wilkes is a very good writer of dialogue. The delivery of the lines is well-timed, and this is an important source of humour. This production works very well in the close context of the Studio. There is no real need for set – a number of props in their shed or workroom sufficiently create an atmosphere.

Murray Andrews is a very convincing Bill. His seething anger and piercing eyes carry real menace, and, along with his narrow-minded scorn for reading and real coffee, his secret deeds provide a fascinating mixture of humour and puzzle. He is excellent.

Nick Wilkes plays Sam, the more open-minded, curious and innocent character. His accent is not so consistently convincing, but his character is entirely believable and indeed appealing to the audience.

This production provides a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment. The audience is drawn into a weird and imaginary underworld with very eccentric but human characters who amuse, fascinate and perplex us in equal measure, but within an ironically optimistic atmosphere. As one of them observes, ‘Any day this side of the turf is a good day’!  The show runs in the Vesta Tilley Studio to 29 September

Tim Crow


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