Odds, Broads and Frauds

May 26 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆   Mixed

Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre: Thurs 25 – Sat 27 May 2023
Review by Thom Dibdin

In Odds, Broads and Frauds, St Serf’s Players bring a trio of comedies to the stage at Inverleith which make for a somewhat disparate evening-out in terms of tone, but is certainly an entertaining one all round.

The evening opens with Socks, an existential comedy about a quartet of socks lost in a public dryer; continues with Day Trippers, about a couple of pals on the works day out who find themselves in an unexpectedly uninhabited quarter of the beach, and rollicks home with Gilly’s Gem about a maid who knows what side her mistress’s bread is buttered.

Graeme Lobban, Fredericka Morrison, Glen Sutherland and Alison Carcas in Socks. Pic: Trevor Garlick

Socks is the slickest of the trio. Which is not really surprising as this is the SCDA One-Act festival entry (reviewed here), of Rosemary Frisino Toohey’s script.

Director Moira Macdonald brings back her original cast of Alison Carcas as the aloof trouser sock, Elaine, who has known passion of an illicit afternoon; Graeme Lobban as Meyer, a workaday Burlington; and Fredericka Morrison as the naive and artistically inclined leg warmer, Ceil.

Sadly, Malcolm McFadyen, who’se bouncing performance as the sports sock Brad was particularly memorable in the One Acts, was unavailable due to illness on opening night. The role was ably taken on by Glen Sutherland who, despite still needing to refer to the script on occasion, managed to keep the flow of the piece together, if he didn’t quite have McFadyen’s bounce and energy.

knowledge of self

It’s a great little piece, although slight, which actively gains by being out of the competition where plays need to run for more than 20 minutes and easily takes a second viewing, as the socks get to discuss their role as socio-economic indicators, the nature of being and quandaries of the knowledge of self.

Rona Arnott and Jen Ward in Day Trippers. Pic: Trevor Garlick

Opening to a thundering playback of that thrilling opening riff from the Beatles 1965 hit of the same name (well played Keith Grady and Jack Peterson on sound!), Day Trippers by Jean McConnell is set up beautifully to echo the Fab Four’s innuendo and play on words – if not quite going the full hog regarding their drug references.

Jen Ward as the uptight Doris and Rona Arnott as the in-demand Beryl do not disappoint as a couple of pals on a works day out who, having hit the funfair and the promenade, are now at the beach – which is unexpectedly deserted of people, although there are signs that others are around.

Under the direction of Graeme Lobban, Ward and Arnott prove a great double act and make the most of a script that is set in more innocent times. Ward is a great straight-girl to Arnott’s flirtatious, innuendo-laced lead. There are beautifully timed lines from both actors that make the script work far beyond expectations.

tension builds

The comedy comes from reflections on their workmates and the attentions of different men from the different departments. All the while, tension builds over why the beach might be deserted. The revelations are well finessed, even if McConnell signposts the best of them quite early.

Great stuff, although one issue besets both this and the final show of the night, Gilly’s Gem. The accents wander in a rather off-putting way and, at times, effect the delivery of the lines – particularly when the day trippers are in extremis and need to keep control of the delivery the most.

Glen Sutherland, Fredericka Morrison, Rona Arnott and Alison Carcas in Gilly’s Gem. Pic Trevor Garlick

The longest of the three pieces, Gilly’s Gem by Sandy Taylor, has enough in it to make it feel a lot more than a one-act play. It is all set in the drawing room of Gilly’s posh London flat, with lots of comings and goings and changes of point of view in a play set at a time when having a live-in housekeeper was normal.

Key here is Alison Carcas as Millie, the gem-of-a-servant of the title. Jen Ward is her pal Peggy, housekeeper in the flat downstairs and Rona Arnott is well-healed widow Gilly who returns unexpectedly early from a fortnight in the Canaries – to the consternation of the two housekeepers who are having a sly fag and a gossip while they give Gilly’s gin a tanning.

Smaller roles are given to Fredericka Morrison as Gilly’s hoyty-toyty niece Anna – who thoroughly disapproves of Millie – and Glen Sutherland as Toby, a silver-tongued American who Gilly met on the plane home.


The drama here is fairly mundane and the twists obvious enough to feel glib. Rather more interesting are Taylor’s observation on the nature of Gilly and Millie’s relationship, which director Jack Paterson does well to emphasise.

As in all the plays on display, the whole piece may not be the pinnacle of St Serf’s achievements in its 75th year, but it does contain some excellent moments – a scene with Peggy as a Mystic Meg figure, reading Millie and Gillie’s cards, is particularly entertaining.

The evening runs smoothly, with solid support from the backstage creatives – Alison McCallum’s costumes, props from Stage Manager Shiela Paterson (particularly effective in Day Trippers) and Trevor Garlick joining Keith Grady on lighting.

Odds, Broads & Frauds is fun evening and a welcome chance to see a trio of plays normally only seen in the confines of the SCDA One Act Festival.

Running time: Two hours and 10 minutes (including a brief pause and an interval).
Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre, 1a Clark Road, EH5 3BD.
Thurs 25 – Sat 27 May 2023
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

St Serf’s Players Website: www.stserfsplayers.org.uk/
Facebook: @stserfsplayers
Twitter: @stserfsplayers
Instagram: @stserfsplayers


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