Daisy Chain

Husband and wife actors Mark Spalding and Barbara Dryhurst: Then and Now

Daisy Chain: Shelley Theatre, Boscombe (Thursday 25th April, 2019)

What a pleasure to see locally-based husband and wife actors Mark Spalding and Barbara Dryhurst riffing on the joys, challenges and occasional downright lunacy of the acting profession.

Their new comedy Daisy Chain offers a personal take on 33 years in the theatre, lifting the lid on a world where the surreal rubs shoulders with the mundane. A world where professional survival is far from certain, no matter how good you are.

Where the talentless creep you last worked with decades ago when he played the back end of a pantomime horse (badly), is now a knight of the realm with Hollywood teeth and a fawning fan base.

It’s galling when you still sometimes measure your success in your ability to afford a take-away. Yet you keep smiling because it’s funny too.

Over the years Mark and Barbara have seen it all. You probably remember them best from telly roles like Chief Inspector Paul Stritch in The Bill or Miss Johnson, the headmistress of Coronation Street’s Weatherfield School. But there have been many other roles too, both on stage and screen.

They have drawn on their own past to create this cleverly devised piece of theatre which they are staging through their own Airpocket Theatre Company.

Live theatre remains their first love and the opportunity to premier Daisy Chain at The Shelley, where they perform each summer with the London Rep Players, has clearly been a bonus.

It is always good to see this couple acting together and Daisy Chain, which of course they also wrote and devised, is a fine vehicle for their talents. It combines carefully rehearsed set pieces with moments of inspired improvisation - a knowing confidence leavened by carefully constructed moments of self-deprecation.

At the same time it’s the real thing, Written, rehearsed and staged perhaps but it’s genuine Mark and Barbara - the kind of play that will undoubtedly continue to grow and evolve as new experiences and opportunities invite themselves into their lives and careers.

*Daisy Chain is at Shelley Theatre again tonight Friday 26th April.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022