Gallery: A play for today

One of Felixstowe's oldest theatre groups is moving in a new direction. JAMES MARSTON finds out more.

James Marston

One of Felixstowe's oldest theatre groups is moving in a new direction. JAMES MARSTON finds out more.

FELIXSTOWE Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society - better known as FADOS - was formed in 1946 and is the oldest established amateur dramatic and operatic society in the town.

Today the society is going through significant changes in direction and outlook.

FADOS secretary Jayne Lindill said: “FADOS is going through a period of transition.

“We have budget constraints and Felixstowe doesn't really have a venue for smaller productions. It's either using the 900-seater Spa Pavilion or a village or church hall - there is nothing in between.

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“We are no longer doing the big musicals and we are trying to find material that is interesting and a little bit different.”

Step in FADOS's latest offering - There's One in Every Unit.

Directed by Jayne, the play is set in the modern day.

She said: “It is about two people who have moved into a retirement home and their granddaughter is coming back from Australia with her new husband.

“One off the elderly couple - Theo - is showing signs of dementia witnessed by his wife Alice. The young couple are called Elaine and Robin.

“The play is about how much these two couples have in common even though they are separated by generations.

“It is about relationships and loss and independence and how much we all need each other as well. It is very real and it is very much a play for today.”

Cast member Su Stedman appeared in the play 20 years ago in a South London theatre.

Jayne said: “Su knew the play from the 1980s and I was looking for something that was very relevant to today.

“It has very gentle humour and everyone who comes to see it will find something they enjoy and can relate to.”

Rehearsing two nights a week at FADOS House - the society's premises in Walton - the play is Jayne's directional debut.

She said: “Rehearsals have been going for three weeks now. I have a very collaborative approach and we're having a lot of fun.”

The play will be performed at St Mary's Hall in Walton from April 16 to 18. Jayne said the piece will be performed on the floor rather than using a stage - bringing the cast closer to the audience.

Jayne added: “Directing is a fascinating process. I'm really looking forward to seeing the play taking shape and being performed. It should be very intimate production.”

Retired drama teacher Su, 72, of Felix Road is playing Alice.

She said: “Alice is slightly disabled and she can't get around like she once used to. She bears the brunt of living with her husband who has the beginnings of dementia. She loves him but he is driving her crazy at times.

“She is a pivotal figure. She tries to manage her life in the process of the play but her life begins to unravel as life does for older people. You can't ever get better or younger or cure dementia.”

A FADOS member since 2001, Su said she was interested in playing the part for a number of reasons.

She said: “I am the proper age to play the grandmother and I am older now so have a better understanding of the part. It strikes a chord with me more than it did when I was in my mid 50s.”

Su has been a regular performer all her life.

She said: “I started in a church youth club doing nativity and passion plays and I have carried on acting.

“It is a big passion. I don't really get nervous. I like making people laugh and making people feel emotion. You can tell when you have the vibe of the audience, you know if your character is working.”

Jimmy Wearne is playing the part of Theo.

The 79-year-old, who is also Felixstowe's Town Crier, of New Road, Trimley St Mary, is a retired quality engineer.

He said: “I play the old boy, the husband of Alice. They live in retirement home. Theo has a form of dementia that is gradually getting worse, one moment he is OK, the next he is not.

“During the play he and Alice are looking forward to a visit from their granddaughter and her new husband. There is a clash of generations.”

Jimmy has been involved with amateur theatre since his mid 50s.

He said: “I'm 79 and you don't often get the chance to play a leading part. I'm past my sell-by date in some ways and I don't usually get main parts. This is a good opportunity.

“The play explores the theme of dementia and getting older. Dementia used to be a hidden problem and it is quite disturbing when you see someone you knew with it, it is something that could happen to you. “It is very sad to see.”

For 29-year-old Tony Flack, of Wyvern Road, Ipswich, playing the part of Robin is a chance to get back into straight acting.

He said: “I am playing Robin who is about my age and he has been living in Australia. He has moved to the UK with his wife Elaine.

“They are going through marital problems. They like each other a lot but at the same time they are both strong willed and opinionated. Robin has a bit of a big head.”

A South African by birth, Tony, who works as a registrar in Ipswich, has lived in the UK for ten years.

He said: “There are some parallels with me and Robin. I also left home to come to England and we are the same in the sense that we are both a long way from our families. It is a very natural play, it is conversational and like reality.

“It is nice to entertain people. I am enjoying it. It is a challenge and I am looking forward to doing the show with an audience.”

Travel consultant Amy Boughton, 25, of Highfield Road, Felixstowe, plays the part of Elaine.

She said: “Elaine is returning to the UK with her husband to see her grandparents, she is gobby and feisty.

“This is the first time I have acted in a play. I have always wanted to do it but you hit your teenage years and you want to do different things.

“I thought why not give it a go.

“Elaine has a hectic lifestyle and doesn't have much time for her husband.

“Doing the play is an exciting experience. I love the theatre and I'm really looking forward to doing the play.”

There's One In Every Unit will be performed at St Mary's Hall, Walton, from April 16 to 18.

Tickets are �7, �5 concessions and are available from the box office on 01394 278893 or 07864084423.

Have you seen productions by FADOS? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FADOS has two sections, drama and youth.

The society produces a number of productions each year from one act plays, entered in local festivals and often written by its own award-winning authors, to full-length productions.

FADOS also has a small concert party which provides entertainment at functions.

The society has its own premises in the High Street, Walton, which is used for rehearsals and for entertainments for members and their friends and families.

Elderly couple Theo and Alice are trying to settle into their retirement home.

Meanwhile, their grand-daughter Elaine has returned from a spell living in Australia

with new husband, Robin, in tow.

Theo and Alice are excitedly preparing for a visit from Elaine and Robin. The trouble

is, Theo's mind is going and he's having trouble remembering who they are, while Alice isn't as steady on her feet as she used to be.

Elaine is fondly looking forward to seeing her grandmother and rekindling family ties. But Robin isn't keen on competing for his wife's affection and can't understand what the fuss is about.

When the two generations meet, they realise they have much to learn from each other about life, independence and, above all, love.

A funny, sad, moving play for people of all ages.

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