High Society! No, no: not a comment on the Brexit vote; but a definite antidote for anyone feeling that it is, says Katie Jarvis
So. We enter the Cotswold Playhouse in Stroud, ready to take our seats… And discover that, on stage, a party is already well under way! Now, for someone who hasn’t had time to eat tea prior to this evening performance – ie yours truly; dedicated theatre critic No 1 – this is simply galling. I mean, a couple of Parma canapés and a glass of something fizzy would go down a treat.
So. (Again.) On the stage, there are maids in caps, buzzing around serving drinks. Inscrutable waiters carrying trays. And – oh my gosh – a jazz band to die for. (Or, at least, to go hungry for the evening for.) The most superb jazz band, moreover, featuring a thumping, lyrical, melodic, dancing genius on the piano, having the time of his life. (He turns out to be called Lucas Bailey. I’ve met him before, at the Everyman summer school. I want to know more about Lucas Bailey! I want to be Lucas Bailey!)
And even though I’m still peckish, I already know this is an evening I’m absolutely going to relish (no pun intended; purely hungry Freudian slip).
So. (Again, again.) The story is this. The gorgeous (and wealthy) Tracy Lord (the highly talented Katy Sirr) is about  to get married for the second time. On this latest occasion – at a wedding attended by 700 sparkly people – to George Kittredge (Richard Dampney), which is a puzzle, even possibly to George. If you like small-minded, controlling, suspicious men, then he’s definitely the beau for you. Tracy hasn’t yet realised that she doesn’t.
Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, Tracy’s first husband, TK Dexter Haven (the equally gorgeous Richard Murray), appears, ostensibly to give them a yacht, the True Love, as a wedding present. (To be honest with you, this might well have convinced me to go ahead with the ceremony; but, then I am quite shallow.)
On the flip side, Dexter is handsome, fun, debonair, smiley, can sing beautifully, and has a very successful estate agency business. (Oh, hang on. I’m confusing fact and fiction here. Even so, this swings it for me.)
What follows, in the next who-knows-how-long (such was the sheer fun, no one would have noticed had they all emerged with long beards)(even the women) is a heady mix of fabulous singing, dancing, eccentricity, jokes and drunken debauchery (though please NB: she only took her clothes off). I loved this production! Fantastic performances from all, including quirky Eve Baird as Dinah. What a show! What acting! What singing! What a band! Highlights? Well, the obvious, but particularly Liz Imbrie (Melanie Palmer) and Mike Connor (Tristan Holland) singing Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (are you kidding me?); and the wonderful rendition of Well, Did You Evah?
Ah, the musical wit of Cole Porter…
Director Judy Couch clearly got the most out of this talented cast, who made everyone’s evening sparkle. In fact, it felt as if we’d all got drunk on champagne.
And then, as we left, Lucas and co leapt into action in a jazz finale that felt like the icing on the second wedding cake.
Bravo the Cotswold Players.
What we all felt for you was true love indeed.

The Cotswold Players present High Society, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, at the Cotswold Plahouse, Stroud: 15-18 and 22-25 June.


Katie Jarvis
24th June 2016