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  • Writer's pictureMartin Parham

'Dear Players'...double acts

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

In the eighth entry in our blog series, Dear Players, Martin Parham muses on the power of a good old-fashioned double act. We have seen many during our almost 90-year history! But what makes the teamwork, work? And do we always know who our best opposite number will be? Welcome, Martin, to the Downsview Players' blog!

Michele Charles plays opposite Martin Parham in The Wizard of Oz - the panto.
Martin as the Wizard of Oz in 2017.

"Most activities we undertake in life involve an element of teamwork. Sometimes you are lucky enough to work with an individual with whom you find a connection. This inevitably is the beginning of a good working relationship, or at least a good time!

"Drama is no different. Really, you have little choice in who you are cast against. Yet a savvy director might spot that you connect with some people more than others (or have an intuition that you haven’t noticed yourself).

"Being in a play might bring out a sense of competition with other performers; you may feel that you must raise your game to fit in with those around you.

"But while raising your performance might be good on the one hand, there's more to it when it comes to delivering the best double-act. Partnerships really start to work when you have something to learn from the other.

"Equity allows ideas to flourish, bringing the best out in each other’s characters. From here the comedy or intensity can develop and this is what roots the audience to their seats!

"I have been lucky enough to be cast in some amusing roles over the past few years, working alongside some great performers. However, in playing parts alongside Sarah Keogh something seems to click. We don’t take things too seriously, yet we egg each other on. Deep down we want to nail the part! My fondest memory comes from us playing Dorothy's uncle and aunt in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz panto.

Martin Parham plays opposite Sarah Milne in The Wizard of Oz.
Martin and Sarah play Dorothy's aunt and uncle in The Wizard of Oz - the panto, 2017

"In our roles, we had a penchant for dancing. Being hard of hearing, though, we would mistake questions for dance names and immediately spring into action. Whether it was the waltz, tango or the quickstep, practising these together helped develop our characters and we ended up playing a rather comical old couple who were quite nifty on their feet.

Brenda and Simon as Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee.

"Another great partnership which comes to mind was Simon Peyton and Brenda Mantiziba in their roles at Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee in Alice in Wonderland - the panto, in 2015. They were so convincing together you’d have believed they were both actually that stupid! And I'll never forget when Terry Fuller and Steve Canning in Dick Whittington were making cakes with the most dreadful dad jokes. It was like dad joke tennis!

"But great partnerships do not always have to be onstage. John Cooke and Jack Walsh are one of Downsview's most established duos. Even at the combined age of 150 (roughly) they were still climbing ladders, setting up lights and missing their cues right up to lockdown. Legends!

John and Jack sit in the hall at Downsview Methodist Church, Upper Norwood.
John Cooke (left) and Jack Walsh - our lighting and sound duo.
"The great thing about the Downsview Players is their ability to work together with a range of people and develop great partnerships with those you might otherwise never have met.

"The experience, laughs (and even tears) from these double acts always leaves a permanent mark on your memory and a smile on your face! And that's what we keep front of mind, until we are together again."

See more images in our gallery.

Pictured top left to bottom right: Terry Fuller and Steve Canning brought us silly comedy gold during Dick Whittington, 2019; husband and wife Michele and Simon Charles have played opposite each other many times; Steve Canning and Martin Parham in The Memory of Water, 2018; Shouting only like sisters can, Jen Wiseman and Lis Parham also in The Memory of Water; Anne Bassi and Michelle Spencer-Child in A Bunch of Amateurs, 2019; Jason O'Dwyer and Leone Hartnell in their joint debut, The House of Frankenstein, 2015; Amanda Perry and Jason O'Dwyer take the leads opposite each other in The Deep Blue Sea, 2018; Simon Peyton and Terry Fuller in A Bunch of Amateurs, 2019.

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