Venue : Redditch Palace Theatre
Date : May 2003
Genre : Black Comedy
No Scruples in black comedy
A Play written especially for Dawn French in the role of a bitchy, vitriolic gossip columnist has been chosen by Wythall Theatre Company as their next production.
Silly Cow was penned by Ben Elton, and performances can be seen at Redditch's Palace Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday May 21 to 24, and is the first time a local company has tackled this black comedy, packed full of saucy humour, trade-mark one-liners and set pieces.
Doris Wallis is a woman who has no scruples and will do anything for stardom and publicity. She has ruined many a career, and is cruel to everyone. She is surrounded by sycophants - a downtrodden PA who is the buttress for her anger, a stoned toy boy she uses for publicity, a seedy editor she is stringing along with the promise of work and her accountant, who is trying hard to get her on track.
Please note the humour in Silly Cow is saucy, but not too offensive, although is not suitable for very young children.
Unknown, Paper Unknown May 2003
Milking the Second half
By the time the interval arrived, I was wondering what the point was. We had met a highly theatrical woman journalist and her mousy PA, and gathered that she might or might not be moving to Germany or into Satellite TV.
The performances were pleasing but the play did not impress.
Everything changed after the break. Writer Ben Elton, having established his characters, began to unleash his surprises. It suddenly became very clever and very funny.
At its centre, Sue Lister gives a bravura performance, while Ben Hart, Roger Warren and John Parkes and Anne Cherry, contribute splendidly to successive surprises.
John Slim, Evening Mail May 30 2003
I must make it clear at the outset that I'm only going to say positive things about this performance in the hope I'm able to avoid the punishment meted out to the bitchy Doris in this hilarious Ben Elton play.
Sue Lister was brilliant as the nasty tabloid journalist with no scruples, although I can assure readers that no one at the Redditch advertiser bears any resemblance to her. She was ably assisted by excellent performances from Anne Cherry as the downtrodden Peggy, Roger Warren as the very seedy Sid and John Parkes as straight-laced accountant Douglas.
Eighteen-year-old Ben Hart gave a very competent debut for the company as Doris’ toy boy and the audience appreciated his performance very much.
There were very good one-liners as you would expect from the pen of Ben Elton and I particularly enjoyed the dig at the RSC.
I don't want to give the game away, but there are some genuine surprises at the end of the play and I even felt a bit sorry for Doris at the end!
Lynda Morrison, Redditch Advertiser June 4 2003
Fast and Furious
One would indeed hesitate to criticise too harshly a play about a gossip columnist who gets her comeuppance after being an utter bitch about other people's performances!
I wouldn't be so unkind or personal, but the irony of the way in which this Ben Elton play ends is not lost on this reviewer.
Wythall always execute their projects with professionalism and enthusiasm, and this fast and furious play proved no exception. It was an enjoyable outing from the bustle of the day.
Anything Elton would of course provide its trademark one-liners and set pieces, and Ben Elton himself is a razor sharp entertainer. His creation of Doris Wallis is a woman who has no scruples and will do anything for publicity. She has ruined many a career, and is cruel to everyone.
If anything however, the whole Wythall act didn't seem quite as sharp as it should have been.
And Sue Lister, while larger-than-life as Doris, wasn't quite the utter cow that had been expected.
Just maybe, as a journalist, I felt a certain empathy with her from the start, and of course by the end, felt thoroughly sorry for her and hating the other sycophants surrounding this Prima Donna pen pusher.
We were also led to believe the humour in Silly Cow was "saucy, but not too offensive, although not suitable for very young children or people offended by Carry On-style double entendres".
Ben Elton is well know for stepping over the line with his frankly embarrassing humour, and it was naïve of me to believe the stated line - I'm just glad no children of mine (of any age) were present.
Andrew Powell 30 May 2003, The Standard
Ben is toy boy hero
Wythall Theatre Company presents the hilarious Silly Cow at Redditch's Palace Theatre this week.
Written by Ben Elton especially for Dawn French, the play concerns Doris, a tabloid journalist with no scruples who will do anything for stardom and press. She has ruined many a career and is cruel to everyone.
Sycophants - a downtrodden PA, a stoned toy boy, a seedy editor and her account surround her.
She has to go to court, sued by and actress who she vilified in the press because of both her acting and the size of her thighs, but things do not pan out for Doris as she had planned.
Director Tony Lacey said: "The script has some hilarious set pieces, some devastatingly wicked one-liners and five brilliant characters."
He added "It's all about the cost of celebrity, the thirst for fame and the way a tabloid journalist can make or break a career with the stroke of a pen."
Sue Lister takes on the part of Doris. As she is not the "larger than life" size of Dawn French, many ways have been tried to give her a much cleavage as possible and the final success came from the Palace Theatre's pantomime dame bra cupboard.
Anne Cherry plays the role of downtrodden PA Peggy but the company had a problem casting toy boy Eduardo.
Mr Lacey said: "The youngest male actor in Wythall is in his late 30s so we knew this was stretching credulity."
He added: "Eighteen-year-old Ben Hart was spotted in Astwood Bank Operatic Society's Brigadoon and was asked to join the production and luckily he agreed."
Silly Cow contains saucy humour and is not suitable for young children or people offended by Carry On-style double entendres.
It runs until Saturday, with performances at 7.30pm, and tickets costs £6.50, £5.50 (concessions) and £4.50 (with Reddicard).
Lynda Morrison, Redditch Advertiser May 2003