Take one pushy businesswoman and one womanising roué plus his sister and her flirty friend and add a titled lady for good measure. Sprinkle in a weepy nurse and a solicitor and place them all together in a posh country house for the weekend. To the mix, add the essential seasoning of a couple who think they’re there for a swingers’ weekend. What have you got? The perfect recipe for a farce – in this case, the Geoff Bamber play Clutching At Straws, being performed by LAODS at the Buccleuch Centre later this month.
‘Clutching at Straws is very silly but has some wonderful comic characters and I hope it will cheer people up during what could be a very gloomy autumn and winter.’
The man with his hand on the tiller (oo-er Missus) is Bob McLure. He’s been with LAODS for 40 years, but although he’s trod many a board in the years since, his first role with the company was playing in the Orchestra Pit for Orpheus In The Underworld. Since then he’s been in twelve plays and twenty-one musicals.
‘I first strayed on to the stage in a play in 1984 called Wanted One Body and then took to the musical stage in 1989 with My Fair Lady. Both were directed by Brenda Morrison. It’s very difficult to pick a favourite role as I have enjoyed them all but if I am allowed joint favourites, they would have to be Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady and Fagin in Oliver.
This time though, he’s taken on the role of Director – for the tenth time. So will he miss being on stage?
‘I enjoy directing and get a lot of satisfaction from it,’ he says, ‘but I still prefer to act – it’s much less stressful. All I have to worry about is myself when acting and there’s nothing like the buzz of being on stage.’
Playing the part of Lottie Fairfax – ‘much married socialite only interested in men and jewellery,’ is
Nicole Weatherstone. ‘My husband Alan says I’m typecast again!’
She has been with the
She has been with the company for 35 years so is
definitely a weel-kent face in LAODS productions. ‘I started in 1988 and have done thirty-five shows – thirty of them were operas so this is just my fifth play.’ Nicole says it would be hard to choose a favourite role between Calamity Jane and Nancy in Oliver.
Playing the part of the redoubtable Mrs Barge in Clutching at Straws is Margaret Latimer. She first joined the company in 1987 but had to leave a few years later due to work commitments. However, when she retired in 2019 the siren call of the stage once again proved irresistible and she has been back in the fold ever since.
‘I like everything from the singing, acting and the fact that we are still going strong as a Society,’ she says. ‘It can be scary backstage when you’re waiting to go on, but once you walk out there, it’s the greatest feeling. The stage is yours and there’s no turning back.’
One member of the LAODS family has to know the lines even better than the players even though she never steps into the limelight at all. Eva Zemla has played the very important role of prompter for the past nine years.
‘I did tread the boards in a play many years ago but did not enjoy the experience, and to be honest I much prefer to be backstage,’ she says. ‘I enjoy seeing how the cast progress through rehearsals and admire their ability to remember their lines. The hardest bit about my job is when an actor says a line, or lines, that are maybe two or more pages ahead of where he should be in the script and I have to find it or pray that the other people on stage will manage to bring the action back to where they’re supposed to be.’