— Production poster
On what may have been the busiest theatre weekend of the year in Vancouver with so many other shows to see, on a rare dry, sunny afternoon, Jericho Arts Centre was standing room only for People, a verr-ry Br-r-itish comedy from funnyman Alan Bennett.
The packed house says something about United Players’ older anglophile West Side audience, and about the quality of Adam Henderson’s production. But it’s also a tribute to the ability of Andrée Karas and her company to maintain a large, loyal following for semi-professional productions of plays that, for the most part, wouldn’t get seen anywhere else on our local theatrical map.
People features a typically large UP cast with strong performances from actors we don’t generally get to see elsewhere. The star of this show, Christine McBeath, plays Dorothy Stacpoole, a down-at-her-heels aristocratic former model living with her older sister Iris (Nancy Amelia Bell) in a seen-much-better-days great house in South Yorkshire, which they can’t afford to keep up. A third sister, June (Kate Robbins), a Church of England archdeacon, has decided to gift the house to the National Trust.
But Dorothy has a mortal fear—or at least a significant dislike—of people, and can’t abide the idea of the hoi polloi crawling around the premises while she takes her bath. So she schemes to sell the house to a somewhat too-smooth property broker (Brian Hinson). When that falls through, she lets the house be used as a location for a porn film produced by an old colleague (William Samples) in a series of very funny scenes skillfully staged, with special kudos to the Actress (Charlotte Wright). In the end Dorothy adjusts very nicely to what will come.
Lightweight but delightful, People proves that there’s room for everyone in Vancouver’s abundant theatre scene: aristos and porn stars and people like us.