AGORAPHOBIA, the fear of open and public spaces, is not something to laugh about, writes
AGORAPHOBIA, the fear of open and public spaces, is not something to laugh about, writes Carol Evans.
But Sue Townsend’s black comedy Bazaar and Rummage uses humour to highlight a condition that rarely hits the headlines.
A production of the play by the Sinodun Players at the Corn Exchange, Wallingford, later this month promises to be an entertaining but perceptive portrayal of how this distressing complaint can affect ordinary people.
Bazaar and Rummage is showing at the Market Place venue from Wednesday, May 18, to Saturday, May 21.
The play tells the story of a self-help group of agoraphobic women who decide to hold a jumble sale in a bid to help them break out of their insular world for just one day at least.
But as the day progresses, nerves, neuroses and hidden secrets reveal they all have other demons which contribute to their problems.
From this highly charged scenario, Townsend has crafted a gem of a play that is witty and amusing but carries a hard-hitting message.
Director Julie Utley says: “I believe people do know something about agoraphobia but perhaps it’s not something they think about in terms of its effect on people or that it can happen to anyone.
“The use of humour in this play illustrates this — people have the ability to laugh at themselves and deal with very serious situations by bringing humour into it.
“Townsend is able to hook on to characteristics that we recognise in ourselves and other people. She’s a very sympathetic writer. The audience will be in stitches one minute and have a lump in their throat the next.”
The strong all-women cast portrays a range of diverse characters which includes a former singer with a passion for Barry Manilow, a hygiene obsessive and a foul-mouthed long-term agoraphobic called Margaret.
They are joined by the group’s bossy organiser, a calming trainee social worker and a nervy policewoman.
As to whether there is a fairytale ending, Julie will not be drawn. “But it will give everyone something to think about,” she says.
The play features smoking and some strong language and is probably not suitable for under-16s. Performances are at 7.45pm each night from May 18 to 21.
Tickets are priced £10 and can be booked by calling (01491) 825000 or online at www.cornexchange.org.uk