ten times pageant

Pictures: Pamela Raith

Ten Times Table

Malvern Theatres


Do not confuse your Winkles with your Cockles at Malvern Theatres this week as Bill Kenwright presents Alan Ayckbourn’s Ten Times Table, set in a dilapidated Swan Hotel near you. What simple problems can’t be solved with a pantomime horse?

Committee Chairman Ray, (Robert Daws), enthusiastically gathered an eclectic group of individuals in the hope to organise the Pendon Folk Festival. In an attempt to shed light on the rich history of the town, the faulty electrics and clashes between wife Helen, (Deborah Grant), and Marxist schoolteacher Eric, (Craig Gazey), inevitably caused tempers to flare and sparks to fly.

Once the apologies had been read out to a somewhat frosty reception it was up to octogenarian secretary Audrey, (Elizabeth Power), to gather the minutes, as long as the talking was directed downwind.

Drunken Laurence, (Robert Duncan), mumbled along uttering groans and indecipherable suggestions or agreements, stickler Donald, (Mark Curry), pointed out all the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and gullible Sophie, (Gemma Oaten), becomes entangled with Eric and his live in partner Phillipa, (Rhiannon Handy), in their attempt to take over the proceedings.

The first Act is a slow burner introducing all the character traits of all committee members, much to the amusement of the audience who seemed to be made up of many sympathetic committee veterans.

pageant meeting

I was talking with one ex-EU committee member in the interval who said he could recognise all the characters from any board he’s ever sat upon, especially the drunkard who always turned up but no one could ever understand a word he said. He was in hysterics reminiscing about all the hours of his life he had wasted discussing contingents with absolutely nothing being agreed or decided upon.

The second Act really shoots along as Tim, (Harry Gostelow), a military dog breeder, unravels his maps and fires up his plan of aggressive action to take back control of the pageant from Eric and his besotted followers.

In between renovation work and loud hammering, Audrey steals the show for me with her wonderful comedic timing, as she serenades the room missing out on all the action and chaos around her.

Things don’t always go according to plan as Laurence gets thrown from his stylised horse, Helen is ravaged by a drunken Russian and wounded Eric’s revolution is halted, but Audrey reveals the pageant with the re-enactment of the “Massacre of the Pendon 12” to have unsubstantiated evidence supporting its claims so all was a complete disaster.

Plenty of laughs and character assassinations make this an amusing battle to bear witness to but beware of the gun wielding militant.

If you have what it takes to join the committee then head to Malvern Theatres for Ten Times Table until Saturday 16 November. Tickets are on sale at the Box Office 01684 892277 or online HERE.

Emma Trimble


Index page Malvern Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre