Stoppard’s Rough Crossing is the challenge for the Funtington Players

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Pure fun and farce is the promise from director Alan Copsey as the Funtington Players launch into their spring production, Rough Crossing by Tom Stoppard.

Performances are from April 8-12 at the village hall in West Ashling.

“It’s an adaptation of a Czech play by Molnar,” Alan explains. “Apparently, it’s a classic Czech farce, but that’s by the by really. I think Stoppard has changed it beyond all recognition and has made it his own. It’s a vague adaptation, a springboard really for Stoppard.

“It is not done particularly often here, but the reason I wanted to do it was because way, way back, years ago, I was in a better-known play of Stoppard’s, On The Razzle, and Rough Crossing was in the same book.

“ I thought I would really like to do it. It is along the same lines as On The Razzle, and the humour is very similar, and both On The Razzle and Rough Crossing are pure fun, pure farce. They don’t have anything particular to say. They are just fun!”

What makes Rough Crossing Stoppard is in the use of words, Alan says.

“It is quite wordy, and the humour is in the words and the way he uses them. The way he takes the text is typical Stoppard.

“But it is also a farce. There are people falling into the sea and coming in wearing their swimming trunks.

“I have seen lots of Stoppard, plays like Arcadia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which I think are wonderful plays, but I am not sure they are plays for amateurs at all.

“But I think Rough Crossing is very doable for amateurs. It has music as well, and the score was written by Andre Previn. I don’t know how 
that came about. I expect Stoppard met him at a party. But they are very singable tunes.

“Basically, the set-up is that it is on a cruise liner which is crossing to New York.

“There are two playwrights on board, and they are struggling to finish a musical comedy and rehearse it before docking in New York, but unfortunately, the leading lady and the leading man fall out because the leading lady falls in love with the composer, a young man who is also on board.”

The last piece Alan directed for Funtington was Our Town by Thornton Wilder. As he says, this is rather different. The first piece he directed was a David Hare.

The directing grew out of the acting.

“Lots of actors think ‘I would like to have a bash at directing.’ It means you get to know a play really, really well. The real pleasure is in the rehearsals, not so much in performances.”

When it comes to performance, Alan admits he finds 
himself hoping the audience aren’t sitting there wondering ‘Why on earth did he choose this play?’

But so far so good as the run approaches.

As far as Alan is concerned, the foundation of directing is plenty of preparation, followed up by plenty of communication.

“I do lots of pre-preparation. I have a view of what I want, 
and then in rehearsal, I open it up to the cast together. It has been good. I am very happy with it. “

Also enjoyable is the musical element, something of a new challenge.

“At Funtington, we don’t do much musical stuff, not that this is primarily a musical, but it has four or five songs, and it has been good to get people to sing that are not used to 
singing.”

Tickets online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/funtingtonplayers or from the dedicated box office phone line 07565 464271.