Happy Birthday by Marc Camoletti Southmoor Village Hall, 18th-20th November 2021 Marc Camoletti's classic comedy, Happy Birthday, is the first production staged by the Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group for two years.

The Group were all set to put on another play last year but this hit the buffers when Covid struck. Delaying the production until later in the year was not possible for various reasons and the search for another project was on. The answer was Happy Birthday a hilarious, if lengthy, 1970's farce containing all the elements of the genre, mistaken identities, precisely timed opening and closing of doors and general confusion.

The set, designed by Mike Lacey and Ian Ashby really looked the part with vivid brown and orange wallpaper dominating the walls. Procuring this genuine 1970's decoration deserved an award in itself.

The plot is simple, philanderer Bernard asks his best friend Robert for the weekend and tells his wife that Robert will be bringing his girlfriend who in reality is Bernard's mistress. Bernard meanwhile has no idea Robert is having an affair with his wife Jacqueline. Then they are expecting a new cleaner to arrive any minute by the name of Brigit which is the same name as Bernard's lover. See I told you the plot was simple. Chaos of course ensues throughout.

Bernard is faultlessly played by Rob Hall who I am told took ill during rehearsals, curtailing the time he had for learning the part. Rather than cancel the production again, Rob carried a copy of the script. However he did this so well I didn't notice for the first half of Act 1.

KBDG newcomer Dan Sears played Robert. Not sure about his outfit in Act 1, he looked just like he was off to play at the Oval rather than a game of two halves with Brigit. Ignoring this, Dan did a stirling job as the foil for Bernard despite a bit of a nervous start his performance improved as the play progressed. Understandable however with such a huge part.

Claire Wheeler as Jacqueline, another fresh face in KBDG, had her work cut out from the start, trying throughout to get two minutes alone with Robert, Jacqueline is thwarted at every turn.

Congratulations go to Emily Eastham for her role as the other Brigit, Bernard's lover. True to say I have yet to see Emily put a foot wrong on the stage but she surpassed herself as the mistress turning up for a weekend that didn't turnout at all as to the one she was expecting.

Directors Susi Dalton, Mike Lacey and Abi Bellis can congratulate themselves on putting on Happy Birthday in such a short space of time, four weeks less rehearsals than normal apparently.

It was a tad lengthy, there were a few prompts and a couple of awkward moments but the real tragedy was a Saturday night audience of only 20+, Perhaps Covid worries still abound, but for a village the size of KBS the numbers must be disappointing, I can only say they missed a treat.