The Cornishman

Play owes as much to Laurel & Hardy as Thomas Hardy

Lit by the sun and the moon, Cornish theatre company BishBashBosh made its debut at the Minack on the finest opening night of the season for many years. Adapted from a Thomas Hardy short story by Cornish playwright Alan M Kent, A Mere Interlude is directed by John Hoggarth and set in the late 19th century. The play concerns "a moment of madness" in the life of the rebellious, free-spirited schoolteacher Baptista Trewethen, a young lady years ahead of her time and destined to become "a wife and a widow in a day". Told in three acts and 30 scenes, it jerks its way from Scilly to Penzance, Torquay to Truro. And as enjoyable as it is, needs trimming and would benefit from the absence of much Cornish guide book material. At the same time, it contains several excellent scenes and highly imaginative bits of business from wedding to honeymoon, funeral to boat and train journeys, and is often very funny. Indeed, it raises so much laughter, it perhaps owes more to Laurel and Hardy than Thomas Hardy and leaves one feeling that the latter, who in his lifetime was not noted for jollity, would be alarmed at such hilarity. The five members of the cast-filled the wide open spaces of the Minack stage extremely well and cope with the demands of some 20 or so different characters with power and polish. Catherine Self as the headstrong heroine Baptista, Ed Williams as her ill-fated suitor Charles Stow, Holly Kavanagh as her friend and fellow trainee teacher Ellen, and Benjamin Symes as the blackmailing Jago, are all splendid. But it is Dean Nolan as the huge boat-builder, businessman and fisherman Dave who not only steals the show but also almost stops it with his dazzling and dancing Fred Astaire-cum-Gene Kelly final act. Praise too for the Cornu-Celtic music supplied by The People's String Foundation and the a cappella performances of sea shanties prior to the curtain going up and during the interval by the Perranporth's Stamp And Go, all of whom helped provide an evening and an experience which in the immortal words of Dave was "as frisky as a pisky down Trevisky".