Monday, 04 July 2022

Boot is on the other foot as drama critic takes to stage

THE chickens are coming home to roost for one local writer.

THE chickens are coming home to roost for one local writer.

Drama critic Mike Rowbottom has been known to savage plays in his columns for the Henley Standard.

Normally on first nights he finds himself sitting with pen and notebook somewhere like the Mill At Sonning, the Oxford Playhouse or the Wycombe Swan.

Now he finds himself on the other side of the curtain and is nervously hoping he won’t be given a dose of his own medicine.

He’ll be fighting down his nerves on Wednesday, October 12, as Alan Ayckbourn’s Comic Potential opens at the Kenton Theatre and he prepares to speak his first lines. Mike plays the role of Chandler Tate, a rude, drunken TV drama director in this Henley Players production.

“I’m loving it,” he says. “I’ve come across this sort of character in my old life as a TV reporter and producer. They have a hugely inflated sense of their own worth and egos to make you scream.”

This is Mike’s third part in an Alan Ayckbourn play in the last four years. He was nominated for an award for his role as Reece in Communicating Doors for the Henley Players and played an awkward farmer in The Life Of Riley for Sinodun Players last year. “Generally I manage to escape the reviewer’s acid pen,” he says. “But not always. The thing is, reviewers are there to provide an interpretation.

“I feel I have to be honest and on the rare — very rare — occasions when a professional show misses the mark, I believe it’s my job to say so. I don’t like doing it, but readers come to trust in your integrity and you let them down if you’re not honest.”

Mike has few doubts about Comic Potential, though. “This is Alan Ayckbourn at his height. We start with the idea that a robot/android can fall in love. It’s a really clever script with terrific characters and very funny situations — you’ll be laughing and crying at the end. Many of us were transfixed by the Channel 4 series Human last year — the story of androids having feelings. Comic Potential anticipated that by at least 15 years. It’s really perceptive and laugh-out-loud funny.”

Comic Potentialruns from Wednesday, October 12, to Saturday, October 15, with a matinée at 2.30pm on the Saturday. Evening showtimes are 7.30pm.

Tickets are priced £13 for adults (£15 on the Friday and Saturday nights) and £12 concessions (£14 on the Friday and Saturday nights).

To book, call (01491) 575698 or visit

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