As a lover of theatre I was delighted to read in Pals magazine of the launch of a new amateur theatre group. Although I’d never heard of Kings Cafe, Polis, where the Kings Players are based, I vowed to find it and check it out. Then everything fell into place: requesting a meeting with a Polis colleague, she suggested the King’s Cafe, so I found myself there (with some difficulty, as the directions “Near the bank and the roundabout in Polis”, for Most Unhelpful Directions ever came second only to my previous favourite “Ignore the fork in the road”. In fact, it’s in the tourist area, near the Post Office), and upon leaving the delightful cafe, I bumped straight into Adriana Panas-Webb, the main Player and thus booked my tickets.
My friend Sue – a camping enthusiast – agreed to come to the show with with me if we camped that night, so we headed to the campsite on the morning of the show. One of the main tent poles had recently split, but I was proud of the careful repair I’d made since our last trip. Until we put the tent up, and the pole snapped. Scrabbling around we found some cable ties and clothes pegs and forged a clever fix, only for it to snap again before our eyes, immediately followed in sympathy by the other pole. Ever resourceful, we tied the top of the tent to a handy tree with a handy Abba bootlace (I have a very well-stocked van, apart from the lack of spare tent poles) and used various heavy objects to spread the sides of the tent. The waterproof top had nothing to be fixed to, so the ‘roof’ remained open, like a wig-wam, but at least we would be mostly covered, albeit directly in some places where tent sides would be draped over our sleeping bodies. Fine, we thought, we’ll be out all evening, it’s only to sleep in. Sue pointed out it did now look a lot more like the traditional triangle shaped tent symbol seen on all Campsite signs, while modern tents are shaped more like giant beetles.
There was a fabulous air of excitement at the King’s Cafe, with a stage being built, seating plans plotted, and some delicious cooking aromas wafting. The ticket price included a buffet meal and desert, cooked by the multi talented hairdresser Maria Evripidou who appeared in a cameo role in the show as a seductive lady of the lamp, with spectacular comedy timing and expression, without saying a word.
The show, Polis Follies, ran along the lines of an Old Tyme Music Hall, with a compère, live musical accompaniment in the form of Doug Craig on piano, and a grand variety of song in solo and chorus, comedy skits and sketches, some delightful monologues and poetry, and even a little dancing where space allowed. Highlights included Doug leading a barber-shop-esque style male vocal group singing an updated Brexit version of Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud, young Sonia Utesheva’s sweet rendition of The Boy I Love and the comedy duo characters – Steve Wheater and Adriana as intellectually challenged country bumpkins Eli & Ellen, and Liz Blezard and Cath Perkins as charwomen Gert & Daisy. Pauline Bishop was in her element belting out old tyme classics such as Waiting At The Church , and the full chorus numbers were uplifting.
Despite it being the first foray on stage for many, all company members played with professionalism and aplomb, even when the rain began to fall, sallying on regardless – and Sue and I were too busy enjoying the performances to worry what state our sleeping bags might be getting in. Fortunately, the rain didn’t last, the show went on and funds were raised for The Friends’ Hospice and Stray Haven charities. A wonderfully different and fun evening – roll on the next production!