Attic Players went Stateside for this year's big Skelmorlie production as it performed a superb play set in the early 1980s.

Neil Simon's 'California Suite' takes place in a swish hotel suite - the setting is the common theme of each of the four acts.

The first couple entering the suite are divorced couple Bill and Hannah Warren who meet to discuss the custody of their 17 year old daughter. Hannah, played by Linn Van Der Zanden and William played by Stewart Macdougall were ideally cast, crossing swords as to who would be best to look after their daughter, whether in California -where William was now settled in Los Angeles with a new partner and a successful career- or Hannah who was New York City-based.

The acerbic dialogue between the two was electric and the convincing acting scoring points between them left the audience having sympathy with both parties.

The next couple to arrive in the suite was Philadelphia-based Marvin and Millie Michaels who were in town to attend the bar mitzvah of their nephew. Marvin, played by Gordon Fyfe, arrives a day early and finds himself in a very awkward situation when he wakes up in the morning with a comatose stranger lying in bed beside him. After a few hilarious attempts to waken, pull out of bed, and even dump the completely unresponsive body into the corridor to no avail, who appears in the suite but his wife- played by Linda McMurray- who was completely oblivious to her husband’s subterfuge. The pace and dialogue between these two experienced actors was hilarious.

The next play portrayed a classically trained British actress Diana Barrie and her antiques dealer husband Sidney, played by Donna Laing and William Clark-Ferguson. They are in town as Diana has been nominated for her first Best Actress Oscar, so it was obvious for the Attic Players’ director to cast Donna in this part as her own acting skills came to the fore. Nerve fraught – the “banter” between Sidney and Diana reach comedy heights with perfect timing from both. As in good comedy there is the pathos when Diana confronts Sidney about her suspicions regarding his sexuality. The climax of this scene is when returning from the Oscars unsuccessful, a very drunk Diana consoles herself by dismantling her designer costume and hairstyle and flinging herself with great gusto onto the bed (which is the most used prop in all four plays). Sidney diffuses the situation and the play ends in an amicable “format”.

The fourth and last play has four characters arriving in the suite, after having spent a three week holiday together ending with a tennis match.

The first couple Mort and Beth Hollender – played by Eric Linn and Alison Goldie- arrive in the suite with Beth having suffered an injury to her leg due to the unfair tennis play by their opponents.

When Stu and Gert Franklyn arrive, played by Bill Wright and Pauline McIntosh, the four argue relentlessly blaming each other and scoring points of their awful vacation. Hilarious slap stick comedy arises when a perfume bottle is broken, and a blood bath ensues The scene ends with the four “friends” all with injuries having a “fist to cuffs” and all strewn along the floor.

The directors for this production were William Clark-Ferguson (3 plays) and Stewart Phillips (1 play) Stage Management and Props – Shona Phillips

The superb set was designed by a team of Richard Laing, Keith Agnew, Graeme Ross, Simon Dell, Bill Wright, Neil Stuart, Matt West, Frances McGinlay and Karen Willey.

This latest production from Attic Players was an outstanding success, just adding to their previous successful productions.

Words: Joan Rae Photos: Karen Willey.