Feb 6, 2019
Category: News
Posted by: Keith Nuttall


'ALLO ALLO' directed by Jennie Scott-Reid , to be performed on Friday 31st May, Saturday 1st June and Sunday 2nd June, at Clavering Village Hall

Clavering Players Website

The Fire Raisers (Frisch)

This dark comedy is set in a town that is being regularly attacked by arsonists. Disguised as hawkers, they talk their way into people's homes and settle down in the attic, where they set about the destruction of the house.

Written in the years following World War II , as a metaphor for Nazism and Communism, the play shows how 'normal' citizens can be taken in by evil. The central character, a businessman called Biedermann, is seen at the outset reading newspaper reports of arson, convinced that he could never be taken in. Within minutes, the first 'hawker' has appeared (Schmitz), and through a combination of intimidation and persuasion he talks his way into spending the night in the attic.

As the play unfolds, a second arsonist appears (Eisenring), and before Biedermann can do anything to stop it, his attic is piled high with oil drums full of petrol. He even helps them to measure the detonating fuse and gives them matches, refusing to believe the full horror of what is happening. He soon becomes an accomplice in his own downfall.

The increasingly surreal flavour culminates in a final scene when Biedermann and his wife Babette find themselves at the gates of hell. Here they once again meet Schmitz and Eisenring who turn out to be Beelzebub and the Devil respectively.


The Cast.

Gottlieb Biedermann – Richard Austen

Anna – Issy Homan

Schmitz – Tony Weston

Babette Biedermann –Jean Schofield

Eisenring – Peter Simmons

Policeman– Andy Presland

Widow Knechtling - Jane Bankes-Jones

Doctor of Philosophy - Geoff Hallett

Cheif Firefighter - Tony Phillips

Firefighter - Charlotte Foster

Firefighter - Sam Borthwick

Firefighter - Alison Howells

Director - Gordon Cummings


A review by James Tout

'Play Fires up Topical Issues'

Director Gordon Cummings was at pains to remind everyone watching the Clavering Players' production of The Fire Raisers on Thursday night of the play's topicality.

The informative programme, accompanying the troupe's compelling rendition of German playwright max Frisch's masterpiece, reminded us of its pertinence 50 years on.

'Did you want to invade Iraq or abolish the House of Lords' it read. 'Do you want to buy an identity card for £300 or have a second runway at Stansted? Well what have you done about it?' For those still in the dark, Frisch's play explores the responsibility of the individual to stand up for what they believe in before it's too late.

With outstanding performances all around, the Clavering Players captured beautifully the pitch-black comedy of this complex piece, while never deviating from its sobering undertone.

Richard Austin played the affected, bourgeois Gottieb Biedermann, railing against a declining world, while doing nothing to stop its fall. His frantic tone and word-perfect delivery was thoroughly captivating and oozed professionalism.

Jean Schofield was excellent as his long suffering wife, Babette, whose inane babblings were as ineffectual as her husband’s rants in the face of danger posed by the 'fire raisers' themselves, Schmitz (Tony Weston) and Eisenring (Peter Simmons).

Simmons and Weston played well off each other as 'brains' and 'brawn' respectively, switching from hilarious to, ultimately, sinister with consummate ease.

The quartet of narrating firefighters (Tony Phillips, Charlotte Foster, Sam Borthwick and Alison Howells) carried their chanted lines very well and looked every bit the part, thanks to borrowed uniforms from Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

This was another triumph for a group renowned for top-notch shows. Indeed, the high quality of this village performance puts many of the offerings in our larger towns to shame.