Funny Faces by Steve Dimmer

These are two monologues which are funny, poignant and touching. Steve Dimmer’s writing is based on extensive research and he draws us into these two actors’ lives.  People may not associate me (Rosemary Hill) as a director of comedy, but actually I do love comedy- whether it be acting, directing or watching. The finest comedies for me though always have some pathos. That is some sadness behind the laughter. It makes it much more real and true to life.  Both these performers were well loved comedy actors who made many people laugh, but their lives also had much sadness and a sense of never quite achieving what they wanted to achieve.  This week was the first of an extensive three week rehearsal period working from 10am – 4pm. We’ve had a great week and we all feel we have really got to know the characters.  I love the rehearsal process. It a creative time where we can try things out and see if they work. It’s a time of real collaboration with a team who all want the show to be a success so everyone pulls together. There is nothing quite like it. Here’s some information about Joan and Sid. 

Irene Joan Marion Sims (9 May 1930 – 27 June 2001), best known as Joan Sims, was an English actress remembered for her roles in the Carry On films, including Carry On Nurse (1959), Carry On Cleo (1964) and Carry On Camping (1969). She played Mrs. Wembley, the cook with a liking for sherry in On the Up (1990–92), and Madge Hardcastle in As Time Goes By (1994–98). In her later years, Sims fought a long battle against depression. This was worsened by the deaths of her agent Peter Eade, her best friend Hattie Jacques and her mother, all within a two-year period, after which she fell into alcoholism. Sims suffered from Bell's palsy in 1999 and fractured her hip in 2000, but recovered well. However, her alcoholism was beginning to dominate life in her rented Kensington flat, and she described herself as "the queen of puddings." After assessment by a doctor, she was offered a place in a rehabilitation centre, but declined. Offered the opportunity to write her autobiography, she took a role in the BBC television film The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, alongside her As Time Goes By cast mate Dame Judi Dench and Olympia Dukakis.

Sid James (born Solomon Joel Cohen; 8 May 1913 – 26 April 1976) was a South African-born British character actor and comedy actor. Appearing in British films from 1947, he was cast in numerous small and supporting roles into the 1960s. His profile was raised as Tony Hancock's co-star in Hancock's Half Hour, first in the radio series and later when it was adapted for television and ran from 1956 to 1960. Afterwards, he became known as a regular performer in the Carry On films, appearing in nineteen films of the series, with the top billing role in 17 (in the other two he was cast below Frankie Howerd). Meanwhile, his starring roles in television sitcoms continued for the rest of his life. He starred alongside Diana Coupland in the 1970s sitcom Bless This House until his death in 1976. On 26 April 1976, while touring in The Mating Season, James suffered a heart attack while performing on stage at the Sunderland Empire Theatre; he died in hospital an hour later. Some, including comedian Les Dawson, claim to have seen the ghost of James at the theatre, and subsequently refused to appear at the theatre again.

Do come and see the show.  It’s going to be a great evening at the theatre.

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