Riveting. That is one way of describing “Clerical Errors” the latest fantastic stage performance from Ebenezer Methodist Drama Group at Hanging Heaton.
The play is officially described as a comedy but the players made it so real that not only was there plenty to laugh at but, along the way, real-life humane messages emanated from this script.
The plot centred around a multi-faceted problematic family who, on finding themselves homeless, decided to occupy a disused chapel.
The everyday problems they confront and the damaging reactions of onlookers have such an effect on the church’s minister that he eventually decides that the best way to understand the plight of similarly placed people is to join them and get a first hand experience.
As such it may not sound like a comedy but the way in which family’s error-prone teenage spokeswoman Leanne Pollard, doddering grandma Brenda Colbeck and errant schoolboy William Hartley portray the family’s various plights was both hilarious and moving.
And the full power and persuasion of the piece was exemplified by Nigel Harrison’s first class performance as the church minister, the Rev James Martin, who was initially scathing about the situation but became completely transfixed by the family’s plight as time went by.
The drama and hilarity of the situation was enhanced by contrasting performances of Stacey Todd, Margaret Brooke, Howard Gray and Amy Booth as protesting church members and social workers who find it hard to accept how the family can live in such circumstances without imposing on the church community.
The love, doubt and possible resolutions of such a situation were resolutely examined by the different characters who, with only a single help from the prompter, made it all so realistically sad and funny at the same time and, in doing so, presented a first class performance for the approving audience.
Director Dorothy Cape and assistants Mary Glover and Sue Gray deserve congratulations for achieving such a feat.