A Chorus Of Disapproval: Synopsis

Cast: 7 male / 6 female
Running time (approximate): 2 hours 15 minutes - not including the interval
Acting edition: Published by Samuel French

A Chorus Of Disapproval is set around the rehearsals for an amateur production of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, the plot of which is interwoven with and reflects the action of the play.

A Chorus Of Disapproval opens with an apparently triumphant performance of
The Beggar’s Opera with Guy Jones as the lead, Macheath. The applause dies down and Guy finds himself back at auditions and his first encounter with Dafyyd ap Llewellyn, the Welsh director of Pendon Amateur Light Operatic Society; Pendon being a small town in the north of England. Having successfully auditioned, Guy - a man who has difficulty saying no to anyone - is introduced to the rest of PALOS: Ian and Fay Hubbard; Councillor Jarvis Huntley-Pike and his wife, Rebecca; Ted and Enid Washbrook and their daughter Linda, the girlfriend of Crispin Usher who is also seeing the brash stage manager Bridget Baines.

Guy meets Dafydd’s wife Hannah at their house and reveals he works for a multinational company in Pendon and is a recent widower. Hannah opens her heart to him, revealing Dafydd, a solicitor by day, is a largely absent husband. Dafydd gives Guy the small role of Crook Finger’d Jack and enquiries whether Guy is aware of the rumour his company may be interested in expanding onto land owned by a client. Guy is ignorant of the plan, but agrees to keep an ear out for news.

At the next rehearsal, Linda discovers Crispin is sleeping with Bridget and Ian invites Guy to visit him and Fay one evening. Asked to bring a friend, Guy totally misses the subtext that the couple have a very open relationship into which Guy is being invited. With Ted having stormed out of rehearsals, Guy is promoted to the role of Matt Of The Mint and it becomes increasingly obvious he and Hannah share an attraction.

The action shifts to Ian and Fay’s flat with an utterly oblivious Guy mistaking Fay’s sexual overtures for eating preferences. Ian returns - shocked to discover his playmate for the night is a 70 year old woman from a nursing home. He asks Guy about the land, who misreads the situation again and presumes Ian is Dafydd’s client; Guy say he knows nothing more than he told Dafydd. Ian hints he will make it worth Guy’s while for any information about the land, dropping out of the play so Guy can have the better part of Filch and increasingly turning a blind eye to Fay and Guy’s activities.

Act Two opens in a café with Hannah confronting Guy about his relationship with Fay. Guy is having very different affairs with both women and Hannah believes everyone is aware of their affair except for Dafydd. Fay interrupts the conversation to return Guy’s underpants. The women fight over the pants - actually Dafydd’s - and during the course of events, it emerges Jarvis owns the land everyone is interested in.

Back at rehearsals, tensions between Linda and Bridget spill over into a fight over Crispin. Dafydd confronts Crispin and is kneed in the groin for his troubles. Jarvis now approaches Guy about the land, to which Guy repeats the rumours he has heard from Dafydd and Ian. Jarvis misconstrues this and tells Guy he’ll be ‘looked after’ for the information.

With the future of the show in doubt and now no leading man, Dafydd pours his heart out to Guy and is frank about his relationship with Hannah. Unfortunately the tannoy is on and everyone hears it too. The solution to one problem is solved when Rebecca suggests Guy plays the role of Macheath.

Having received £500 in the post, apparently from Jarvis, Guy goes to their house and meets Rebecca. She hints the original rumour about the business interest in the land may not have been true and might have been a way of inflating its value. She advises Guy to keep the money, which he decides to do.

At technical rehearsals, Hannah confronts Guy about their affair and admits she’s in love with him and is leaving Dafydd. When Guy gives a non-committal response in order not to hurt anyone, Hannah thinks he is using Dafydd merely as an excuse to ditch her. Guy tries to tell Dafydd the truth, just as Ian reveals Guy’s company is closing its plant in the town. Guy admits he knew about this and has been made redundant, but both Ian and Fay doubt his motives and believe he has been conning them for his own ends. Ian tells Dafydd about Hannah’s affair, who confronts Guy, calling him a ‘total and utter bastard’ before apparently reprieving him with best wishes for the show. As the final scene is replayed, Macheath is saved from the hangman’s noose in a cynical reprieve at the author’s whim - reflecting Guy’s fate too.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.