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September 2016

Oustside Edge by Richard Harris

By Jon Mareno - Friday Sept 23rd, 2016
(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight County Press)


CRICKET-RELATED play Outside Edge was billed as 'a classic comedy but the description was well wide of the mark and had me stumped by just how unfunny it was.

Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (CAODS) attracted a good-sized audience for its opening performance last week but instead of being left in stitches, I suspect the audience - who I failed to hear laugh throughout the show- was in a bit of a spin just like me.

Not intended to be about cricket, the story revolved around the contrasting characters, who attend a match at a typically English country cricket club. But the England we see we see in this play is not the green and pleasant land we all imagine.

Written by Richard Harris and first performed in 1979, the play has the kind of sensibilities more akin to The Sweeney (which he had written for) than greatly more considered boundary pushing work on relationship issues.

As a not-so-silly point the world of male chauvinism is alive and well in Outside Edge. Had it been written as a period drama, perhaps its content would not find itself on such a sticky wicket.

For example, self centred and arrogant team captain Roger (Paul Stevens) who treated his long suffering yet devoted wife Mirriam, (co-director Carolyn Ferguson) like the proverbial doormat, and let's not forget domesticated Kevin (Peter Harris) who treated his loving builder wife Maggie (Andee Lowthian) with contempt she clearly didn't deserve -regularly denigrating her in some way, in the hope of a cheap laugh, with gems like "You dozy great cow".

I was far from bowled over by the show and it was a hard slog at times but it is only fair to let the CAODS cast - a decent competent group of all rounders - off the hook with their performances, particularly that of Alex Quilter. who stepped into the role two weeks before the opener.

The choice of play may have been a slip but Gwen Stevens who also directed the play certainly got the best out of her cast.