Interesting KINGFISHER at Langhorne Players

by Jean Brenner

Often we read stories about couples reuniting after a surprising number of years, having been separated by various circumstances. Many times the man and woman have been married to others, have children and grandchildren and have enjoyed a happy, productive life. To a great extent, that is the premise of THE KINGFISHER at Langhorne Players in their Tyler Park theatre on Rt. 332 between Richboro and Newtown.

Langhorne Players is the local community theatre company that prides itself in presenting plays seldom performed elsewhere. Again, their search committee has succeeded in finding a little-known play and mounting the production with three talented actors.

Playwright William Douglas-Home was prolific in writing plays from 1937 until 1989, but few of them became well known. Named for the kingfisher bird, this one is downright obscure.

Special credit goes to Ken Junkins for designing a set that works well on the space-limited stage. There are three main focal points: a gazebo, a beech tree, and the patio adjacent to back door of a house.  All areas are exceptionally well designed, including the beech tree with sprawling branches and suggested leafy boughs. What must have been a nightmare for the crew to build is a pleasure to behold.

Playing the role of prolific novelist “Sir” Cecil is Elliot Simmons who has acted and directed in the Philadelphia area for over 30 years and will be directing LP’s next production: “Something Intangible.”

As Cecil, Simmons is pompous and bombastic, playing nearly every scene at the same level – strong and intense. Although he professes love for his long lost woman, it is difficult to believe he could love anyone more than he loves himself. It is difficult to feel compassion for him. Often Simmons pontificates from center stage and does not move even when he is rebuffed by Evelyn.

Gail Foulke returns to the stage after a fourteen-year hiatus to play Evelyn. She looks lovely onstage and believably develops the persona of a wealthy woman. Having just buried her husband, she improbably comes from the funeral to visit a man she may have loved 50 years earlier.  Unfortunately, the emotional connection between Evelyn and Cecil is anything but palpable, even when they speak of love lost and love regained.

Scott Fishman, the much-beleaguered butler, Hawkins, is especially amusing as he repeatedly says, “Sir Cecil,” with disdain, while performing his servant duties. Fishman’s comedic talents are obvious throughout the show, stealing drinks when he can, and demonstrating disdain for the situation at hand as he watches his employer become teen-foolish. Fishman generates lots of laughs.

The two men have been together for nearly 50 years and are very comfortable with one another until Evelyn’s appearance changes dynamics and Hawkins becomes somewhat sour and jealous that she is affecting his unusually close relationship with Cecil.

There are humorous lines and moments, with one of the funniest scenes in the play occurring when Cecil invites Evelyn to recapture their moment together under the beech tree when he first missed his chance to ask her to marry him.  They sit on a blanket and reminisce and this time, when he asks, she accepts.

But, then, they try to stand up! Key word: “try.”

Cecil and Evelyn shout for Hawkins who rushes to their aid. Since he, too, is in his 70’s, he finds it physically impossible to help.

The struggle goes on, making this scene especially funny to people over 65 who know what it is like to attempt to do that which is so easy for the young – standing up from the ground without leverage.

Overall, THE KINGFISHER is interesting and somewhat intriguing. The small opening night audience approved of it with rousing applause.

The play continues weekends through June 15 with one Wednesday evening and two Thursday evening performances.  Call 215-860-0818 for tickets: $15 on Friday and Saturday; $14 other days.

By William Douglas-Home
Directed by Sheldon Bruce Zeff
May 31 – June 15, 2003
Langhorne Players
Tyler State Par/Spring Garden Mill

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