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October 2002
Jefrey Bernard is Unwell
reviewed by Kate Young in
The Isle of White County Press
(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight Count Press)

COWES Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society's production of Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell at Trinity Theatre last week was an absolute treat.

This smash hit West End play by Keith Waterhouse focuses on the life of Jeffrey Bernard, a gambler, journalist and fervent alcoholic, who wakes up in the middle of the night on the floor of the gents in his local pub and finds he is locked in.

Resigning himself to spending the rest of the night with a bottle of vodka and an endless chain of cigarettes, Jeffrey reminisces about his life. His musings are punctuated with strong language and witty one-liners, plus comic set pieces featuring characters from his past and more poignant tales of lost love, the death of his friends and thoughts towards his own mortality.

The effervescent Michael Arnell was excellent as Jeffrey Bernard, a role first made famous by Peter O'Toole.

The other nine members of the cast each played several characters from Jeffrey's past.

Liz Segal brought a sense of stylish elegance to the enchanting character of Elizabeth Smart, while Carolyn Ferguson was suitably loving, then icy, as the mistress. Mr and Mrs Backbone - characters true to the heart of England -were portrayed by real-life husband and wife team Steve and Diana Kimpton, while Diana was also excellent as Jeffrey's elegant mother.

The interaction between Jeffrey, Robin Holbrook as mad cat-racing genius Caspar and Phil Segal as cat-doper Tom was hilarious, while Phil also touched the audience's hearts as the towel-clad man contemplating the death of his genitals.

The cast also included Phil Burland, who played Dennis Shaw and others; Wayne Child, who was funny as the bored waiter and Nicky Stanley, who played the barmaid and one of Jeffrey's many lady friends.

The show was superbly directed by Rosie Collard with husband Tony Collard acting as production co-ordinator and daughter Zoe responsible for the simple, yet effective set design.


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