The Emergency Services do a great job of saving lives but in Berwick they can also be relied onto put on a jolly good show.
Year after year volunteers take time off from their important day jobs to get involved with the annual Emergency Services Pantomine, which traditionally comes at the end of the local panto season.
This year’s brave bunch are busy rehearsing ‘Give Us A Clue-Doh!’, a murder mystery which will open at The Maltings on Thursday, February 6.
The ESP group are known for steering clear of more traditional pantos - you won’t find any glass slippers or magic lamps in their prop box - and this year they have once again opted for an original production, with the script penned by dynamic duo Frank Barker and Julie Dudgeon, the brains behind the likes of 2013’s ‘A Trio of Cleos’, which many, including this particular reviewer, considered to be their best to date.
But with such praise comes expectations from audiences for the cast to take things up another notch.
Have no fear though as cast member Stella McLaren told ‘WOW’ that without wanting to tempt fate the cast felt ‘Give Us A Clue-Doh!’ had all the potential to eclipse even last year’s smash hit.
“It’s another brilliant show and everyone’s really getting into it,” Stella enthused.
“Even at this stage, getting ever closer to curtain up we’re still laughing which is a very good sign!
“We’ve toyed with doing a more straight laced pantomime in the past but we’ve quickly come to the conclusion that they’re nowhere near as good as the shows when Julie and Frank write the script.
“People can expect more of the same from us - lots of laughs and of course the usual mayhem.”
As its title’s play on a famous board game suggests, ‘Give Us A Clue-doh’ is set during a murder mystery weekend with all manner of interesting characters involved in some equally interesting goings on.
Directors Frank and Julie are stepping out from backstage to take on roles as are the likes of Malcolm Mace and Marie Tucker who have both starred in ESP shows in the past.
Retired nurse Stella, who is cast as Lady Doon, has had to fit rehearsals in around her new job as a teaching assistant at Scremerston First School and she said that while it might always be easy to get everyone in the same room at the same time to learn lines, stage directions etc things always seem to go alright on the night.
“People stand in for other characters, play more than one part, have lines stuck to props - anything that helps really.
“Thankfully people are always at rehearsals enough of the time to know where they’re meant to be, their cues etc even if they rely on someone else telling them!”
‘A Trio of Cleos’ songsheet saw modern hits by Girls Aloud and Alexandra Burke nestled next to The Bangles and Stella said this year’s music was just as eclectic.
But all the high jinx aside there is a serious motive behind Emergency Services pantomimes.
Every year proceeds go towards Berwick Hospice, with donations so far totalling over £72,000.
“Unfortunately we live in an era where many people have been touched by cancer,” said Stella. “Some of the cast have been directly affected themselves or had immediately family with cancer so we all want to raise as much money as we can.”