Southwick Players offer The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder.

The challenge will be to make everything look absolutely effortless, says director Kate Armes as she masterminds Southwick Players’ production of The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder. Absolutely effortless… even though everything will need to be choreographed to complete perfection and precision.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 8:45 am
Kate Armes

It’s the classic challenge of farce – and one Kate is enjoying. The production runs at The Barn Theatre, Southwick from December 11-December 14.

“I directed The Man Who Came To Dinner two years ago with the company, my first time directing with them, which was lovely. It went really well. I think everyone who saw it really enjoyed it, and it was just the right kind of thing for the time of year, just before Christmas.”

Kate believes The Matchmaker will be equally fun in the pre-Christmas slot.

“This is my first time directing for them since. The Southwick Players have got a good fount of directors. You put a bid in and if they like your suggestion, they will go for it, and so it is like on a two-year cycle. We are very lucky that we have got quite a lot of people who are interested in directing. It means that there is a good turn-over of different sorts of people doing different sorts of productions.

“I proposed this one. It has got quite a big cast which I think is always good for amateur theatre because it gives lots of people an opportunity. It’s good fun and it is a farce. You don’t have to think about it too much, and it’s very suitable for people just wanting a good night out before Christmas.

“It is the play on which (the musical) Hello Dolly was based. Anybody that knows the musical will know some of the characters and some of the situations, though they are not exactly the same.

“But yes, it is a farce… a sophisticated farce, if you can say that. We assume with a farce that it is all quite low brow, but this is definitely a bit more sophisticated. It is not all oops, dropping trousers, oh vicar!

“There is confusion and mistaken identities and lots of romance. There is also a chase sequence in a restaurant. It has got all the elements of farce, but it is rather more than that.

“It is very American. Interestingly, the play was based on a piece by an Austrian writer, which was written in German, which was originally based on a play which was English. A lot of people have thought it was a jolly good story and reinvented it. But this version is very American, and the whole point is that all the people end up in New York.”

Horace Vandergelder, a wealthy merchant in 19th century Yonkers, New York, decides to take a wife and he employs a matchmaker, Dolly Levi. Dolly then becomes involved with two of Vandergelder’s clerks, several lovely ladies and the headwaiter at an expensive restaurant amid hilarious complications.

“Dolly is a widow and secretly has designs on Horace herself. She is the one that arranges the chaos that ensues. We have got some subplots. Horace’s niece is wanting to marry someone Horace considers unsuitable and so she elopes, and then Horace’s two shop assistants or apprentices decide to go to New York to have an adventure. And so everyone ends up in New York together having to pretend to be other people and in disguise and trying not to bump into each other!”