Laughter in a pink pinny

The Dinner Lady Man

The Old Joint Stock

****

SO WHAT happens when the new dinner lady - or educational establishment sustenance facilitator as they are probably known these days - turns out to be  man.

That is the quandary posed by Dan Hagley in his new play The Dinner Lady Man. Bob, nicely underplayed by Black Country actor Greg Hobbs, has seen his building business go down the tubes and his wife go down the local garage for a younger man. You probably heard she was the one Vic at the car dealership was knocking off - everyone else has.

So with the bailiffs at his building yard and his wife out for divorce Bob, the builder, needs a job and the Job Centre send him off to the local school as . . . a dinner lady.  It all adds to the problems of Enid, splendidly played by Rina Mahoney, head dinner lady in charge of the squad of ladies or, to be more accurate, just Gaynor as it turns out.

The rest go on strike as soon as they hear Bob is a man which leave lechy Mr Lusty, the had, played by Hagley himself, trying to sort it out.

Gaynor, played beautifully by Linzi Matthews, finds the smell of disinfectant and mince make her feel sick and retch - ideal  qualities for a school dinner lady - and displays a remarkable skill in managing to avoid anything with could remotely be described as work.

TURKEY TWIZZLERS

Add in the school loony hoodie Dean, Hagley again, who stabs Bob among the turkey twizzlers and Enid and Bob find a bit more in common that pink pinnies.

Hagley in his last play Patrick and Bernadine showed he could mix comedy with a hint of pathos and does the same here.

There are some very funny lines and Hagley has that ability to write about people you know, real people with real conversations and here has found himself a trio of actors who bring his characters to vibrant life under the direction of Jenny Stephens.

The play ends at The Old Joint Stock with a 2.30 matinee on Sunday Oct 3 then heads off on a tour which includes Bromsgrove, Solihull, Wolverhampton and the Lowry in Manchester. Try and catch it somewhere on its journey. For details http://www.somethingandnothing.org/ 

Roger Clarke

 

Seconds . . .

WITH its emphasis on equal opportunities and the problems that can arise, this new comedy by Birmingham writer Dan Hagley is almost too funny for words!

Or should that be seriously funny, because virtually every week we read about jobsworths causing a bit of mayhem with their pursuit of new laws on discrimination.

In this 75-minute play Bob (a builder) is desperate for work after his business collapses in the recession and his wife seeks a bit of comfort from Vic the garageman.

But the job he accepts at a local school turns out to be in the kitchen - a dinner lady-man - and news of the new man on the hob leads to a walkout by the majority of the all-female cooking staff.

Black Country-born Greg Hobbs gives a lovely performance as baffled Bob who puts on his pink pinny and white hat and gets on with the job while the dispute escalates.

Although at first reluctant to accept a man in the school kitchen, Enid, and to a rather less extent, the busty Gaynor, agree to work with him to keep the pupils fed (mainly on chilli), and, surprise, surprise, love blossoms along the way.

Rina Mahoney excels as the kitchen boss, Enid, who has marital difficulties of her own, and Linzi Matthews is a hoot as the Scouse dinnerlady, Gaynor, who has a knack of escaping work.

In addition to writing the comedy, Dan Hagley takes a part - well three, actually - and is terrific as school chief Mr Lusty, Bob's former employee Gavin, and even a hoody thug pupil, Dean, who pulls a knife on the new dinner lady-man.

Directed by Jenny Stephens, this sparkling comedy closed at the Old Joint Stock on Sunday (Oct 3), and goes on tour until 17.11.10

Paul Marston 

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