The Flint Street Nativity | 1st – 6th December 2014

Flint Street Nativity posterThe seasonal comedy drama: The Flint Street Nativity by Tim Firth, directed by Pieter Swinge.

Miss Horrocks’ class of seven year-olds are preparing for their school nativity play, but in the classroom because the school hall hasn’t been finished as the builders discovered an endangered species of great crested newt.

The children run wild, with fights over whose dolly should play Jesus, who is the best Mary, and what stars are really made of.  The classroom antics backstage at Flint Street Primary School are awash with jealousies, teasing, blackmail, unrequited love and, of course, Christmas carols as only children know how.  All the children are played by adult actors who, later on, turn into their parents.

cast

Cast:
Angel                            Alice London
Gabriel                         Sanchia Leddy
Shepherd                     Sandie Campbell
Mary                             Janet Clark
Wise Gold                    Carolyn Taylor
Star/Ass                        Ian Evans
Innkeeper                     Del Stone
Herod/Joseph             Robert Hall
Wise Frankincense     Tony Skeggs
Narrator                        Howard James

Backstage crew details below.

Click on photos to enlarge:

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in rehearsal :WP_20141118_001

Flint Street Nativity Dec 2014

Backstage:
Stage Director                       John Heather
Set Design                              Adrian Pope, Pieter Swinge
Set construction                   Adrian Pope and T62 members
Set décor                                Adrian Pope and T62 members
Lighting Design                    Jon Lewis
Sound Design                        Ian James
Stage Manager                      Liane Marchant
Asst Stage Manager             Nikki Wilkinson
Sound/Light operators       James Quinn, Annabel Walsh
Technical Support               David Hart, Andrew Herbert
Props                                      Ann Herbert, Sally Guttridge
Wardrobe                               Margaret Uzzell, Joan Martin, Hazel Hall, Diana Quinn, Valerie Polydorou
Make-up & hair                    Christine Lever
Pianist                                    Margaret Uzzell
Video Clip                              Brenda Troughton & Spring Park Film Makers
Prompt                                   Nina James

House Manager                    John Heather
Refreshments                       Heather London
Raffle                                      Liane Marchant, Patricia Melluish
Box Office                              Margaret Uzzell
Poster/Programme Design   Graham Copeland
Programme Editor               John Guttridge

 

Dangerous Obsession | 29 Sept – 4 Oct 2014

Dangerous Obsession poster V3 5 (1) Dangerous Obsession by N.J. Crisp, directed by Patricia Melluish

Sally has been sunbathing in the garden of her large country home.  An acquaintance, John, stops by. Sally doesn’t really remember him, but he ingratiates his way in.

John lets Sally talk herself into thinking he is there to discuss a business proposition with her husband Mark who “is due home any moment”. But John’s purpose appears to be a little more sinister.  This is a cleverly crafted tale with its fair share of surprises.

The action takes place in the conservatory of the Driscoll’s house in the Home Counties, late afternoon on a hot day in late summer, in the late 1980s.

Cast
Sally Driscoll        Ruth Aylward
John Barrett         Stuart Scott
Mark Driscoll       Bruce Wallace

Dangerous Obsession castcast and crewDangerous Obsession - John BarrettDangerous Obsession - Mark DriscollDangerous Obsession - Sally Driscoll_MG_7429 _MG_7367 _MG_7344 _MG_7306 _MG_7295 _MG_7279 _MG_7232 _MG_7355 _MG_7228

Dangerous Obsession castDangerous Obsession cast & director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
in rehearsal

 

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Backstage
Director                                        Patricia Melluish
Lighting & Sound Designer      Ian James
Stage Manager                            Sue Hicks
Stage Director                             John Heather
Set design                                     Jan Greenhough
Set construction                         Members of Theatre 62
Set décor                                      Jan Greenhough, Lynne Craig
Assistant Director                      Nikki Wilkinson
Assistant Stage Manager          Lianne Marchant
Technical programming           Jon Lewis
Technical Operator                    Anna Howarth
Technical rigging                       Members of Theatre 62
Wardrobe                                     Margaret Uzzell
Properties                                    Lynne Craig
Prompt                                         Audrey Knighton, Beryl Neal

House Manager                          John Heather
Refreshments                              Heather London
Raffle                                             Lianne Marchant
Box Office                                     Margaret Uzzell, Nina James
Poster & Programme design    Graham Copeland
Programme Editor                     John Guttridge

 

The Tempest | 7th – 12th July 2014

The Tempest July 2014King Alonso of Naples and his entourage sail home for Italy after attending his daughter’s wedding in Africa. They encounter a violent storm – a Tempest – and are washed ashore on a strange island inhabited by the magician Prospero who deliberately conjured up the storm.

Prospero and Miranda live in a cave on the island which is also inhabited by Ariel, a sprite who carries out the bidding of Prospero, and the ugly, half-human Caliban.

A number of plots against the main characters fail thanks to the magic of Prospero; the Tempest is eventually calmed.

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More photos below

Cast:
Prospero                               Tim Hinchliffe
Ariel                                      Jessica-Ann Jenner
Caliban                                 Phil Cairns
Ferdinand                            James Dammers
Miranda                               Alice Foster
Alonso                                   Paul Marshall
Gonzalo                                Stephen Shooman
Sebastian                             John Oakenfull
Antonio                                Kyle Cluett
Francisco/Adrian               Ian-Paul Munday
Boatswain                            James Mercer
Master                                  Jessica Kellow
Stephano                              Peter Ruddick
Trinculo                               Steve Whalley

Backstage:
Director                               Richard Stewart
Set Designer                       Tony Jenner
Lighting Designer              Andrew Herbert
Sound Designer                  Ian James
Stage Manager                   Heather London

Stage Director                     John Heather
Set construction                 T62 members
Set decor                              Tony Jenner, Adrian Pope
Asst Stage Mgr                   Nicky Wilkinson
Technical effects                Jon Lewis
Technical operator            James Quinn, Ana Howarth
Special props                      Tony Jenner
Wardrobe                            Margaret Uzzell, Joan, Martin, Val Polydorou, Diana Quinn
Makeup and hair               Penny Vetterlein, Christine Lever
Prompt                                 Alice London

House Manager                  John Heather
Refreshments                     Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                    Nicky Wilkinson, Jessica Kellow
Box Office                            Margaret Uzzell
Poster & Programme        Graham Copeland
Programme Editor            John Guttridge

The action takes place on board ship and on an unspecified island.

The Tempest was previously performed by Theatre 62 in April 1964 and April 1983.

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Elephants Don’t Run | 7th – 12th April 2014

Elephants Don't Run  posterBy Trevor Smith.

Directed by Sandie Campbell.

Photos below.

Lily, a widow, is in hospital suffering from a number of psychological illnesses including dementia. Her daughter Debra has been caring for Lily for the last twenty years. Out of the blue Lily is visited by her other daughter, Megan, whom no-one has seen for twenty years. Why has she suddenly appeared? Where has Megan been for all these years? What is really been going on? And will Dr Pritchard fall for Debra’s advances?

All is explained through this thought-provoking, hard-hitting drama as the horrifying secrets of a family’s past are revealed.

The action takes place one summer a few years ago in a small cotage hospital in rural England.

Cast
Lily                                    Sue Hicks
Megan                               Sue Bailey
Debra                                Ruth Aylward
Dr Pritchard                    Bruce Wallace
Nurse Jenny                    Christine Lever

Backstage
Director                            Sandie Campbell
Stage Director                 John Heather
Set Designer                    William Ransom
Lighting Designer            Ian James
Sound Designer               Jon Lewis
Set construction/decor  William Ransom & T62 crew
Stage Manager                Liane Marchant
Asst SM                            Nikki Wilkinson
Technical Operators       Danny McIIiney, James Quinn
Technical rigging             T62 members
Props                                 Lynne Craig
Prompt                             Mary Ransom, Beryl Neal

House Manager               John Heather
Refreshments                  Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                Sandie Campbell
Box Office                        Nina James
Poster/programme        Graham Copeland
Programme Editor           John Guttridge

We were delighted that the play’s author, Trevor Smith, was able to attend the final performance.

Elephants Don’t Run is Theatre 62’s entry in the 2014 Bromley Theatre Guild Full Length Play Festival.

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My Boy Jack | 17th – 22nd February 2014

My Boy Jack - February 2014

By David Haig.

Directed by Caryl Rapps.

“Don’t tell me he was lucky! He wasn’t lucky, or…or brave, or happy! Jack was eighteen years and six weeks old! He died in the rain, he couldn’t see a thing, he was alone! You can’t persuade me that there’s any glory in that!”

So says Carrie Kipling, Rudyard Kipling’s wife and mother of Jack (John) Kipling. My Boy Jack is a true story and tells of a nation at war offering an intimate portrait of one family’s complex and divided experiences in it.

The cast and Director: My Boy Jack - cast (More production, rehearsal and backstage photos below).

Cast:
Rudyard Kipling               Hugh Leadon
John ‘Jack’ Kipling           Matthew Sanderson
Carrie Kipling                    Samantha Elgar
Elsie Kipling                       Laura Gamble
Guardsman Bowe             John Randoll
Guardsman Doyle             Robert Hall
Guardsman McHugh       Simon Church
Colonel Pottle                    Tony Rapps
Mr Frankland                    Ian Evans
Major Sparks                     Bernard Harriss

Backstage:
Director                              Caryl Rapps
Stage Director                   John Heather
Set Designer                      Tony Jenner
Lighting Designer             Jon Lewis
Sound Designer                Andrew Herbert
Set construction/decor   Adrian Pope, Andrew Heather, Alice London, T62 crew
Technical support            Ian James and T62 crew
Technical Operator          James Quinn
Stage Manager                  Stuart Scott
Asst Stage Manager         Alice London
Props                                  Lynne Craig
Wardrobe                          Eve Stone and members of T62
Make-up & hair                Penny Vetterlein, Jean Golder
Prompt                               Jessica Kellow

House Manager                 John Heather
Refreshments                    Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                  Lynne Craig
Box Office                          Margaret Uzzell
Programme design           Graham Copeland
Programme Editor           John Guttridge

My Boy Jack - castBackstage crew

Rudyard Kipling's study The trenchbackstage view of the trench and studyriggingbuilding the trenchbackstage view of the soldiers in the trenchthe trench: here's what the audience didn't seein rehearsalin rehearsal My Boy Jack cast Jack & the Kiplings Jack in the trenches

More photos below

The author Rudyard Kipling, famous for the Jungle Book, uses his considerable influence, being on a War Office propaganda think tank, to get his nearly 18 year old son Jack admitted for military service during the First World War.

Jack is only 16 years old at the beginning of the play and extremely short-sighted. Despite appearing eager to join the war effort he is repeatedly refused on account of his bad eyesight. However he is eventually enrolled in the Irish Guards, his father’s patriotic dream but his mother and sister’s nightmare.

This play by David Haig takes place before, during and after the First World War, between 1913 and 1933.  It is set at Batemans in Sussex – the home of the Kipling family – but there are also scenes in the trenches of the Western Front.

It is a powerful play showing the futility of war and how a family back at home react to their son going to war. The trench scenes are particularly poignant as are the scenes following Jack’s disappearance.

2014 is an appropriate time to perform this play with the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in August 2014. 109 DSC01304_DxOdark??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Season’s Greetings | 2nd – 7th December 2013

Seasons Greetings poster QRBy Alan Ayckbourn. Directed by Paul Marshall.

Enjoy watching family and friends celebrate Christmas for the umpteenth consecutive year.

Except not all is peace and harmony as the cracks quickly start to emerge.

Featuring the annual, excruciating, puppet show, drunken snakes and ladders, the rifling of Christmas presents – and that’s just the start.

Join us for this comedy. The perfect way to start Christmas!

The cast:

Season's Greetings CastCastCrew - e12 1156s

Season's Greetings cast

More photos below.

Cast:
Clive                       Robert Hall
Harvey                  Del Stone
Pattie                     Alice London
Neville                   Peter Atkinson
Belinda                   Jackie Dowse
Phyllis                    Simone Thorn
Bernard                 Mark Storey
Rachel                    Sanchia Leddy
Eddie                     Geoff Dillon

Backstage:
Director                                        Paul Marshall
Stage Director                             John Heather
Set design & decor                      Adrian Pope
Lighting Designer                       Andrew Herbert
Sound Designer                           Ian James
Set construction                          John Heather & T62 crew
Puppet Theatre design              Ray Harris
Puppet Theatre construction   Andrew Heather
Puppet Maker                             Jackie Dowse
Special Effects                             Andrew Heather
Stage Manager                            Sally Guttridge
Asst Stage Manager                   Ann Herbert
Stage Crew                                  Hazel Imber, Hayley Norton
Technical Assts                           Jon Lewis, Danny McIIhiney, James Quinn
Props                                            Sally Guttridge, Ann Herbert
Wardrobe                                    Joan Martin, Ellie Garcia, Hazel Hall, Valerie Polydorou, Diana Quinn
Prompt                                         Margaret Uzzell

House Manager                           John Heather
Refreshments                              Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                            Heather London
Box Office                                    Nina James
Poster/Programme Editor        Graham Copeland
Programme Editor                      John Guttridge

Croydon Advertiser review by Peter Steptoe:

“Alan Ayckbourn wrote more than one play about Christmas and I have always had some reservations about this one, though in fairness it does contain great comic moments. His writing is not as witty as Coward’s but his observations on middle class angst are both accurate and funny.

There are three married couples in this dysfunctional household with two other relatives and a guest who is a one book author. Belinda (Jackie Dowse) is the frustrated housewife, whose chief recreation seems to be decorating the Christmas tree and has a shed occupying husband devoted to repairing things that go wrong. Peter Atkinson as husband Neville gave the part the absentmindedness it required, yet indicated he could be ruthless in business. Belinda got the hots for the visiting author Clive (Robert Hall) and the comic seduction scene was beautifully played, ably assisted by the subdued lighting which reduced any disparity in the ages.

Harvey, uncle to Neville and Belinda, had many of the comic lines and was still relevant today as the type of person who takes the law into his own hands. It was a shock to eventually realise how cruel he was and Del Stone made the most of him. His chief victim was the incompetent doctor Bernard played by Mark Storey as a sort of male spinster. He seemed to have the face to go with it, together with the ability to time a comic line. His scene showing his incompetence with his puppet show was masterly and he was assisted in this by the very pregnant Pattie (Alice London) whose own incompetence had been carefully rehearsed.

Director Paul Marshall kept a smart pace with the entrances and exits well timed and the cast’s ensemble playing excellent. I am not sure whether Ayckbourn became uncertain with his less attractive characters because it was essential that we did not dislike them. Phyllis (Simone Thorne) the Doctor’s wife did not seem to accord with his description of her before she appeared, incompetent off yet assertive when on.  Rachel, (Sanchia Leddy) Belinda’s unmarried sister was definitely neurotic and as Clive’s secretary wished to become involved.  Eddie (Geoff Dillon) as one of life’s failures came across as quite uncaring with regard to his pregnant wife yet his inadequacy failed to ignite our sympathy. Clive the author was like the curate’s egg, good in parts. It was a difficult part to play and to be shot at the end and declared dead by the incompetent doctor was trouble enough for anyone.

The ending I have often wondered about; was it because Ayckbourn had run out of ideas? The ending on dimmuendo was in complete contrast to the climatic frenzy of the interval break.

I did, however, enjoy the performance, and it reflected great credit on Theatre 62.”Season's Greetings Dec 2013Season's Greetings Dec 2013Season's Greetings in rehearsalCurtain Call

The Beauty Queen of Leenane | 30th September – 5th October 2013

The Beauty Queen of Leenane - Sept 2013 - posterby Martin McDonagh. Directed by Janet Clark.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is set in the mountains of Connemara in County Galway, Ireland. The play is a blend of hysterical comedy, grand melodrama, violence and bleak tragedy. 

It tells the darkly comic tale of Maureen Folan, a lonely woman in her early forties, and Mag, her manipulative, ageing mother.

Two sisters have escaped into marriage leaving Maureen, with a history of mental illness, trapped in a small bleak cottage and a seriously dysfunctional relationship with her mother.  Her mother’s interference in Maureen’s love life puts in motion some dark and frightening consequences.

As events unfold the cottage is visited by the brothers Ray and Pato Dooley. Ray is the younger brother, an irresponsible and irrepressible young man. Pato is a construction worker fed up with his life which forces him to work in England to earn a living. A spark of romance occurs between Maureen and Pato and then fizzles out with disastrous results. 

This play was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1996, then transferred to Broadway in 1998.  In 2010 it was presented at the Young Vic before going on tour. The play has received various nominations and awards: it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Play; the 1998 Broadway production was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning four. 

Read John Drewry’s review of the production below.

Cast
Maureen Folan                      Debbie Griffiths
Maggie Folan                         Sue Appleyard     
Pato Dooley                            Tim Hinchcliffe
Ray Dooley                             Ian-Paul Munday

Backstage
Director                                   Janet Clark
Stage Manager                       Sandie Campbell
Set design                               Adrian Pope
Set construction                    John Heather & T62 members
Lighting Design                      Andrew Herbert
Sound Design                          Ian James
Asst Stage Manager               Pieter Swinge
Props                                        Heather London, Beryl Neal
Technical crew                        David Hart, Danny McIIhiney, Alice London
Wardrobe                                 Margaret Uzzell
Prompt                                     Nina James
Make-up & hair                      Jean Golder, Christine Lever, Penny Vetterlein

House Manager                       John Heather
Refreshments                          Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                        Sandie Campbell
Box Office                                Margaret Uzzell
Poster/programme design    Graham Copeland
Programme Editor                 John Guttridge

Click on each photo to enlarge:  

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Beauty Queen from the lighting & sound boxReview of The Beauty Queen of Leenane by John Drewry

“I’d like to open this crit on a wider scale, beyond the play, and then home in on the production itself as we proceed, because I think the backdrop might help, and provide a richer context.

This is, I believe, the sixth Theatre 62 play I’ve been asked to comment on, so either I’m doing something acceptable or Theatre 62 gets desperate every couple of years of so and can’t find anyone else.  I’ll assume the former, although you’re only ever as good as your last job.

I find Theatre 62 a remarkable place.  Other amateur groups seems to struggle with their programmes, their audiences are unpredictable in size, and their personalities, or rather persona, seem to constantly change, not always for the better.  In this sea of troubles there appears a steady ship, limiting itself to 5 or 6 productions a year, and always looking full up – that’s the overall impression, anyway.  Consistency seems to reign supreme in other areas, too. The sets are always good, the technical support serene, and the wardrobe confident.  You’re probably going to tell me that if only I saw the sheer panic, frustration and general screaming behind the scenes, I would think no such thing, but there we are.

You’re also not afraid of staging more controversial plays by enfants terribles like Martin McDonagh.  True, he’s been around now for some years, but to some of your audience (I know because I listened to them talking) this is new stuff.

Into this robust environment is another first.  This is the only amateur group I KNOW with the courage and enlightened policy to invite a critic and live criticism.  There may be others, but I don’t know of them.  This is not to be confused with adjudication at amateur festivals, where everyone wins a prize because otherwise they don’t enter next year.

So that’s your creds out of the way.  So far as my own creds are concerned, I was many years involved intimately with amateur theatre, both as chairman and artistic director.  In more recent years, I got my Equity card for directing grand opera as well as professional theatre.  I had a run through Kent of my production of Dick Barton Special Agent in 2012.  I write material from time to time, most recently my one-act play NO WAY BACK, which premiered at a private function in April this year where the guests of honour were Lord and Lady Fellowes.  So I’ve kind of been around, which of course is no guaranteed qualification as a theatre critic.  But at least I have empathy, if not sympathy.

I have a couple of small confessions.  Well, not so much confessions as a positioning statement if you like, I’ve seen Beauty Queen more than once, have read it intimately, and am a great fan of Martin McDonagh.  I have some prior knowledge of the two men in the play, and little or none of the two women.  Ian, I have seen on this stage on many occasions.  Tim, I have seen and indeed cast on many occasions, including my production of The Fall of the House of Usher, and something I’m staging locally next month.

So adjusting the focus a little closer, the context of the play itself.  With no intended racism, there is such a thing as the Irish persona, or the Irish caricature.  The thick Mick is personified in Maureen’s confession to Pato in Scene 4.  I promise you, to this day in Southern Ireland, you’ll hear them talk about the potato famine after a couple of draft Guinnesses.  When I was there in 1986, the old boys were still going down to the Post Office to collect their IRA pensions from the 1922 debacle.  The “Irish Question” has occupied much of English politics since the 19th century.  There is a lot of history, most of it not good, which can produce appalling tensions to this day.  The Irish mind can be as eccentric as the English mind, and has produced perhaps as many geniuses.  It is a more sensitive mind in some ways, certainly a more poetic one, and can crack.  Hence Maureen’s breakdown in an English environment “it all just got to me”.  There’s nothing new about any of this, of course.  Read J P Donleavy’s The Ginger Man for a refresh some time.

McDonagh exploits all of this.  The brooding, dark tension between mother and daughter, as black as draught Guinness, in a highly restrictive and claustrophobic environment.  This is why the scenes in Beauty Queen are so often staged in the dark, half-light of an Irish cottage or an Irish pub.  Janet Clark took the alternative decision and bathed all the daytime scenes in strong light. It’s not a criticism.  It’s a point of view.  Do we weigh the audience down with the black morose side of the play by underlighting, or do we go lights, camera, action and let the words do the work?  We were treated to a brightly lit production, which at least gave Adrian Pope and his merry men the opportunity to focus us on the ghastly distressed nature of some of the furniture and especially that dreadful sink with all its current history.

Then there’s the awful isolation of Irish country life.  You have to shake your head for a moment when you realise McDonagh has set this play in 1989.  Could just as easily have been 1959 except for the TV and the telephone.  The desire to get away, epitomised as a metaphor by the young and itchy Ray “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here”.  Yet although 1989 is quite recent, Beauty Queen is already a period play.  Mobile phone and broadband communication technology have effectively relegated everything pre-21st Century to a period which no longer exists.  Isolation is disappearing or rather being subsumed by the impression of staying in touch 24/7, wherever you may be.

It’s interesting trying to label this play.  Is it a comedy, a tragedy, a farce, a drama or a melodrama?  Well, it’s a director’s dream because it is all of these, meaning it’s nigh impossible to be accused of “turning it into a melodrama” or “focusing too much on the comedy”.  You can pull all the stops out with this play.  It’s certainly a comedy, in some ways a ritual comedy.  Complan and porridge see to that.  Of course it’s a tragedy.  Quite apart from someone getting brutally killed, it has the structure and ingredients of tragedy.  The inevitability of tragedy, knowing the vital letter is never going to arrive (the Greek black sails and white sails).  It’s certainly got farce – pouring infected wee wee down the sink has the side-busting horror of true farce.  By the way, I wouldn’t have been able to resist making sure that pot had been brimful, and poured very slowly and deliberately into the place where the washing up is done. 

It’s a drama – overall a powerful drama, which is what gives the audience that final, satisfied feeling.  They haven’t just had a good laugh.  They haven’t just enjoyed the melodrama of a grisly murder scene.  They’ve enjoyed the opus of a master dramaturge.  There are even elements of what Beckett would call tragi-comedy – the nothingness, the bleakness, the isolation are somewhat redolent of Waiting for Godot.

I would add yet another ingredient.  It has poetry. Not just in its overall construct, but much of the language itself.  This is down to the use of syntax.  “And the hot water too I do be scared of”, “It’s Tuesday I’ll be back there again”, “Six o’clock the news isn’t on til”, “It’s cold I am”, “Maybe it’s deaf you’re going”, etc., etc.  This is not diddly-dee mock Irish invented as an affectation.  It’s the construct of the Irish language in translation.  Similar to a German down sitting, if you like.

Slipping in and out of the accent is a common problem for any production.  I have seen and heard various degrees of success with this play.  The Irish accent was handled extremely well by all of the cast.  There’s always a price to pay for accents, of course.  The better and more consistent they are, the more you have to be watchful of articulation and speed.  There’s also an awful lot going on with this text.  And sometimes what I call the sign-posting, critical messages for the audience to receive and understand, can be sacrificed to accent and character.  Projection, however, was faultless throughout.

This was an excellent production.  The problem always for directors is that, rather like Tolstoy’s families, you don’t notice the good ones, only the bad ones.  So often satisfied audiences remember the story, particular actors, costumes, sets, but ask them whether they appreciated the lack of masking and the brow likely furrows.  Other directors notice, though.  The strong hand of Janet Clark was detectable throughout.  I never saw any masking, and she choreographed her actors with skill.  There was no unnecessary moving around for the sake of it, and quite rightly Ray was the only one jumping up and sitting down, because the character has ants in his pants.  Most of the eyeball to eyeball stuff was well managed – actors generally don’t look at each other enough – you probably know the old Cagney adage – put your feet firmly on the ground, look them straight in the eye, and say the words.  There was perhaps one place where fixing more with the eyes would have added considerable effect, and that was when Pato comes down in the morning to Mag’s horror and surprise.  Mag looked away too often and too soon which gave away some comic opportunity – the transfixed stare can really be milked in scenes like that. 

The action was all well-managed, too.  One of the difficult elements to control in a play like this is the tension, like a watch-spring, resisting the temptation to explode at the wrong times.  This was generally very well handled, by both the director and the actors.  There really should be only two releases of tension.  One is Maureen’s reaction to Mag telling Pato about her mental breakdown.  The other is the burning of the hand.  Both were magnificently acted.  Mag’s pain was horribly real, and I saw many heads go down in the audience, unable to bear the sight or endure the screams.  Equally, Maureen wanting to kill her mother on her revelation to Pato was highly convincing.  I would guess as a director you used the old method – go for mother for real, and make Pato HAVE to prevent you getting to her.  It was great stuff.  And if you accept that the rest is unresolved tension, it will automatically control it – there was some earlier shouting which I feared would overspill, and just stayed within its boundary.  Remember, the more controlled and unbearable the tension, the greater the explosion when it occurs.

I saw the production twice, on Tuesday and Friday respectively. Word control was great on both evenings.  The prompt was used once on both evenings.  Who cares?  Only the actors, that’s who.  But the audience forgives and forgets.  The important thing is that the prompt is there when you need them, loud and clear, and invisible when you don’t.  Always take your hat off to a good prompt, actors, they’re part of that backstage support without which you cannot function.  Full marks to Nina James and her ilk, who have to sit through rehearsals and six performances like Victorian children who must not be heard.  They must have the patience of Job.

The only thing I will say about the difference between Tuesday and Friday was that by Friday the comedy had been revealed.  It wasn’t just a different audience.  By Friday, you’d got hold of the comedy and mastered it.  In a sense, anybody can burn somebody’s hand over a stove, but getting the timing and nuanced gesture right over a cup of suspicious tea takes audience exposure – no amount of rehearsal quite gets it.

Choice of music (other than the specified Delia Murphy song) was conventional Irish.  Like the strong lighting the director made a decision, and that’s the important thing.  I have heard deliberately discordant nails-down-blackboards stuff used to emphasise the blackness.  It’s a personal choice, and not the stuff of criticism.

For me, the most evocative scene was Maureen bringing Pato back, and the chatting across the table.  It was so utterly real and very moving in its way.  This had to be the result of close collaboration between director and actors.

Sound cues impeccable on both nights, undoubtedly the result of another close collaboration during rehearsals and performance  between Sandy Campbell and Ian James, with Pieter Jan Swinge undoubtedly providing the extra support.  Andrew Herbert’s lighting was strong in every corner, no unwanted shadows, and effective in the night-time contrasts.  The stove was very good.  Margaret Uzzell, as always, provided an authentic feel to costume.  Make-up and hair from Jean Golder, Christine Lever and Penny Vetterlain, put both ladies firmly in period.  As for Adrian Pope and John Heather, I don’t know how they do it time and again.  I can only suppose they breathe a sigh of relief from time to time when a director decides he or she will produce in the round.

The set was simply great.  A lot of care in the detail, including, as I said earlier, distressing certain items for seedy authenticity.  The bright lighting made parts of the set look a little clean, largely a psychological effect, I think.

So, to the performances themselves.  There are two characters in this play and two caricatures.  Pato and Maureen the characters, book-ended by the two caricatures, Ray and Mag. It is this construct which provides the melodrama.  The caricatures manipulate the characters, one consciously, the other selfishly.  It is important to grasp this, because it provides the fulcrum to the production – and it defines the caricatures.  Ray must be played as an impatient, self-centred young man.  It is his lack of care which creates the inevitable tragedy.  Mag epitomises the manipulative, evil old woman, again self-centred.  The only power Mag doesn’t have is the physical power.  When she oversteps the manipulation, Maureen’s physical power takes over.  Trapped in this maelstrom are our two doomed lovers.

Ian-Paul Munday has come a long way.  Ray’s impatience, frustration, impetuosity and physical restlessness were studied and effective.  So was his bravado, his obsession with owning the poker so he could clobber a few coppers, redolent of Irish disenchanted youth.  Like most disenchanted youth, he just doesn’t have enough to do.  He wants to keep moving but has no direction.  I enjoyed his performance.

Then we have manipulative Mag.  This is a difficult part.  She gets all the great words, of course, but this character has to play to the audience as well as to the cast.  We need to wonder, maybe even anticipate with a certain relish, what evil piece of chicanery is going to come out of that mouth next.  Behaving at times like a helpless child, this is a dangerous character who will destroy anything to get her wicked way.  I though Sue Appleyard’s playing to the cast was excellent.  But she could have done more with the audience, you know the kind of thing – the Princess Diana eyes from her early days, even the secret smile from time to time, purely for the audience to see.  We need to conclude absolutely that she deserves everything she gets, God forgive us.  The actress needs to convey absolutely that she’s in charge, the centre of power.  In a way, Sue’s acting was too real, she gave the impression sometimes of being truly buffeted by events rather than pretending to be. Overall though, her performance was compelling.

Tim Hinchliffe revelled in his John Le Mesurier impersonation.  I’m being slightly flippant.  It was an excellent performance.  The self-effacing, mobile eyebrowed, laid-back Irish drawl worked rivetingly.  The speech opening the second act was handled expertly.  I have seen this read, rather than acted as a stream of consciousness, but it’s not the right way, and Tim got a well-deserved round of applause on the Friday.  I would have led an applause on the Tuesday if I’d been an ordinary audience member.  The speech itself, however, contains a potential trap.  In a rambling awkward text, we learn that poor old Pato couldn’t rise to the occasion.  If the audience misses this, or is an alpha-sleep and not paying absolute attention, it is unlikely to be picked up in the confrontation later on between Mag and Maureen towards the end.

The thing we directors and actors must never forget is that generally the audience sees it once, whereas we live with it for 6, 8 or even 12 weeks.  It is desperately important therefore for the director and the actor to ensure that overt signposting is used in critical places.  Sometimes you have it spell it out.  If you doubt what I say, do what I do and try some vox pop audience research.  Ask a member of the audience why Maureen kills her mother.  The kind of answer you get is “Because she’s off her rocker.  Because she can’t stand any more berating.  Because her mother derided her lack of sexual experience.”  You can further prompt with the question “What critical thing did Mag learn from reading Pato’s letter to Maureen?”  The typical answer you get is “That Pato wanted to take Maureen to America”.  It is rarely you’ll get “That Pato couldn’t get it up”.  Audiences have a singular, linear experience lasting about 90 minutes.  There is no chance to rewind.  For this reason it’s a good discipline to identify, right from the start of rehearsals, the crucial milestone messages that MUST be got across, and to practise forms of emphasis accordingly.

Finally, we come to Maureen herself, played by Debbie Griffiths.  This, I think, will be the shortest character crit.  I saw Marie Mullen play it 17 years ago at the Royal Court, and I think Debbie’s performance was better.  It was exemplary.  She played downtrodden, resentful, passionate, insane, repressed, sexy and hard, all in the right places.  The accent was faultless.  Her contribution, along with everyone else’s, ensured this was the best production I have seen at Theatre 62.  I’m able to make only one recommendation, which is a general one.  Start acting five yards before you get on stage (unless you’re Dustin Hoffman, who starts five weeks before).  Entering on stage and then starting to act is always awkward.  In several scenes, this was covered by the script with voices off.  But if, for example, you’re coming in from the cold or the rain, make sure you’re suffering before we see you.”

Rehearsal Photos:

Queen Leenane rehearsal 2Queen Leenane rehearsal 1Queen Leenane rehearsal 3Queen Leenane Stage Manager (L) & Director (R)

Calendar Girls | 17th – 22nd June 2013

By Tim Firth. Directed by Howard James

Calendar Girls - poster - Theate 62When Annie’s husband John dies of leukaemia, she and her best friend Chris resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They manage to persuade other members of the W.I. to pose nude for an alternative calendar with help from the hospital porter Lawrence who just happens to be an amateur photographer.

The news of this spreads like wildfire and the press soon descend on the small village of Knapeley in the Yorkshire Dales. The calendar is a success however a strain is put on the friendship between Chris and Annie because of their new found fame.

This is based on a true story and has been performed all over the country. It was also made into a best-selling film.

Find out how Theatre 62 supported Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research here.

Calendar Girls curtain call - June 2013

 

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Photos below by BVF Photography:

Calendar Girls June 2013

Croydon Advertiser review by Peter Steptoe:

“This play by Tim Firth is not a great one as there are many scenes and this tended to mitigate against character development. But it does have that feel good factor, makes one realise what it is to be British and sends its audience home happy.

Theatre 62 gave it full value and the set was evocative of any of the Church halls that I have visited. Also congratulations to Director Howard James on the tasteful nudity which was the highlight of this play.

The death scene of husband John (Pieter Jan Swinge) was intensely moving with his gasping for breath while continuing to be understood, a considerable achievement and Annie (Janet Clark), his wife, showed the value of silence in conveying her grief. To raise funds for a sofa in his memory the Women’s Institute produced a calendar with middle aged ladies appearing in various stages of nudity. Annie’s best friend Chris (Pauline Whalley) was the local florist and together they made a formidable couple. Ruth (Jan Greenhough) was the shy one tied to a husband who erred with Elaine the attractive Rachel Cormican . Celia (Jackie Dowse) made the most of nature’s appendages and Sanchia Leddy as Cora the Vicar’s daughter but a single mum played well on the piano.

Lee Howson as the photographer displayed his embarrassment when discovering he was photographing nude his primary school teacher Jessie (Joan Hedley) . Lynn Rushby was Marie the Chair of the WI and a sort of female Mainwaring from Dad’s Army. Jan Stockwell made the most of her one dimensional character Lady Cravenshire as did Richard Trantom as the florist and husband of Chris.

Sometimes the northern accents interfered with comprehension but I, like the rest of the audience, went home happy.”

Cast:

Annie                       Janet Clark
Chris                        Pauline Whalley
Cora                         Sanchia Leddy
Jessie                       Joan Hedley
Celia                         Jackie Dowse
Ruth                         Jan Greenhough
Marie                       Lynn Rushby
Brenda Hulse/Lady Cravenshire    Jan Stockwell
John                         Pieter Swinge
Rod                          Richard Trantom
Lawrence/Liam     Lee Howson
Elaine                       Rachel Cormican

Backstage:

Director                                Howard James
Set Design                            Adrian Pope
Lighting                                Andrew Herbert
Sound                                   Ian James
Stage Director                     John Heather
Set Construction                Members of T62
Stage Manager                   Liane Marchant
Asst Stage Manager           Katherine Whalley
Technical Programming    Jon Lewis
Piano recordings                 Bernard John
Props                                    Lynne Craig, Nikki Wilkinson, Maggie Hoyle, Ann Herbert
Wardrobe                            Emma Kerby-Evans, Valerie Polydorou, the cast
Prompt                                Beryl Neal, Katherine Whalley

House Manager                  John Heather
Refreshments                     Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                    Lynne Craig, Liane Marchant, Tricia Melluish
Box Office                            Margaret Uzzell
Poster/Programme Design  Graham Copeland
Programme Editor             John Guttridge

Calendar Girls June 2013Calendar Girls 2013

When We Are Married | 22-27 April 2013

by J.B.Priestley. Directed by Alice London.

When We Are Married - April 2013When We Are Married sees three couples who were married on the same day, at the same church, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversaries. The couples have positions in society and a public image to maintain. The husbands are leading members of the local non-conformist chapel and two of them have seats on the local council.

The celebrations seem to be going well until the husbands discover to their horror that the minister who married them did not have the appropriate legal qualifications. Given their standing in the local community, the couples initially want to keep the whole business hushed-up. But as events unfold, some of the individuals involved see a chance to escape from relationships that have been rather less than true marital bliss.

A play with many amusing moments and dialogue as relevant today as when it was first performed in 1938.

When We Are Married cast photo

 When We Are Married - set

More photos below.

The cast:
Alderman Joseph Helliwell                Richard Trantom
Maria Helliwell                                    Carolyn Taylor
Councillor Albert Parker                    Del Stone
Herbert Soppitt                                   David Kinch
Clara Soppitt                                        Christine Lever
Annie Parker                                        Sandie Campbell
Gerald Forbes                                      Matthew Sanderson
Henry Ormonroyd                              Joseph Hughes
Nancy Holmes                                      Ruth Aylward
Fred Dyson                                           Nigel London
Mrs Northrup                                      Penny Vetterlein
Ruby Birtle                                           Alice Foster
Lottie Grady                                        Janet Clark
Rev. Clement Mercer                         Jeremy Clarke

Backstage:

Stage Director                                      John Heather
Set design & decor                               Bill Ransom
Set construction                                   Andrew Heather, Adrian Pope, T62 members
Lighting Design                                    Jon Lewis
Sounds Design                                      Ian James
Stage Manager                                     Heather London
Asst Stage Manager                            Nicky Wilkinson
Technical Support                               David Hart, Andrew Herbert, James Quinn
Props                                                     Beryl Neal
Costumes                                              Joan Martin assisted by Diana Quinn & Valerie Polydorou
Make-up/hair                                      Jean Golder, Polly Hart
Prompt                                                  Nina James

House Manager                                   John Heather
Refresments                                         Audrey Knighton, Lynne Craig
Raffle                                                    Sally Guttridge
Box Office                                             Lynne Craig
Programme Editor                              John Guttridge
Poster/Programme Design                Graham Copeland

Production photos (click to enlarge) by Andrew Herbert:

Pano 7136-38 - e11 LRIMG_7268 - e11When We Are Married April 2013IMG_7252 - e11IMG_7249 - e11IMG_7186 - e10IMG_7147 - e11IMG_7146 - e10When We Are Married April 2013IMG_7117 - e10When We Are Married April 2013IMG_7100 - e10IMG_7051 - e10

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Rehearsal photos below.

Review by Raymond Langford Jones & John Oakenfull:

“Introduction

We thoroughly enjoyed this production of Priestley’s popular ‘well-made’ comedy.  Above all, it was a remarkable directorial debut from Alice London, who very successfully achieved an excellent ensemble piece from a rich cast of fourteen – mainly experienced actors – who worked together beautifully and made this popular old play fresh all over again.  A well-drilled and crafted production with plenty of pace and attack – and everyone played their parts to the hilt.  Very well done!

Having just spent time recently with a professional fringe company in Manchester watching one of Ned Hopkins’ plays come to life, you have no idea how spoilt we are in community drama with the amazing technical and staging resources we have, the time to spend on getting it to look right – and above all, the size of the audiences!

Background

Huge fun though it is, with its light-hearted but lively satire on the middle-class marital mores of the Edwardian period, we couldn’t help thinking the play’s creaky construction is, nevertheless, starting to show its age. Consider the contrivances to get people on or off stage so that information can be imparted!

And When we are Married is, of course, not an Edwardian play.  It was written in 1938, just before the outbreak of WW2, not long after French Without Tears and a couple of years before Blithe Spirit.  Like Rattigan and Coward, Priestley also judged the need for light-hearted respite from the constantly depressing news coming from across The Channel.  Here he pastiches the popular Northern comedies of a generation or so earlier, such as Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice and Stanley Houghton’s Hindle Wakes. They may be, arguably, better and less formulaic, but this play has also stood the test of time and is every bit as entertaining on its own terms.  And it would certainly have reminded members of the audiences of the world their mothers had been used to – and how things had changed so much for women since 1914.

The Production

So yes, a well-judged, well-paced, well-balanced production, with no weak links amongst the large cast.  No one was being carried here.  The young people looked young and the middle-aged got away with looking forties-ish – for the times. Priestley’s people are deliberately two-dimensional, and many are stock light comedy characters – yet every member of the cast made his or her role their own.

The floozy was beautifully floozy-ish but with the truthfulness that Janet Clark always brings to her characterisations, and the eccentric star-turn drunk just the right side of wobbly not to actually fall over! Indeed we got a more subtle interpretation of the photographer Henry Ormyroyd (Joseph Hughes) than we too often do, maybe because his Yorkshire-ness was the ‘real thing’ and not ‘put-on’.  But the accents generally came over well and consistently from everyone.  And Joseph provided just the right ‘air of beery dignity’, banishing the memory of countless famous comedians who have undermined this play with their ‘solo comedy turn’ in the past.  It’s very difficult to play drunkenness successfully, but he pulled it off.

Alice Foster drew a lot of cheeky fun from The Pert Maid, Ruby, with good pace and attack and a twinkle in her eye. This is a real ‘stock character’ and none the worse for it, especially when it is played with truth, warmth and humour as it was here. There wasn’t anything more that Matthew Sanderson and Ruth Aylward could have done with The Romantic Young Couple than look personable and set the scene charmingly. Nice, clean, rounded performances from both of them.   Of course, Gerald is also responsible for the key plot device and the scene where he is summoned to be carpeted by the pompous older men, and turns the tables on them by revealing the ‘appalling secret’ – was nicely judged.  Another stock character is The Parson – in this case The Rev Mercer (Jeremy Clarke).  What could have been a thankless cameo – the Tedious Voice of Reason – came over well, partly because he looked and sounded so perfectly the ‘grave clergyman’.  And Nigel London, T62’s perennial matinee idol, provided a suitably ‘cheerful, cheeky youngish reporter.’  The use of strong, experienced actors in even the humblest roles, enriched the whole evening tremendously.

And of course, there was Penny Vetterlein’s Mrs Northrop.  Now why did I keep thinking of the evil fairy Maleficent, in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty every time she appeared?  Not the sort of person one should have got on the wrong side of! Penny got everything she possibly could out of this role which is written on one note, and made an impact on her every entrance.

During the course of one evening, the three anniversary couples learn more about themselves and their relationships than they ever did in the preceding twenty-five years – and, hopefully, they will never be quite the same again.  These were nicely contrasted couples too, and if two actors stood out it as especially entertaining and revealing, it was only because they drew the lucky straws where the writing was concerned; all three were well-matched and effective in their own ways. Carolyn Taylor made a confident and formidable Maria Helliwell, whilst Richard Trantom brought her boring-without-realising-it husband Joe to life well – we all know those types: control freak wives and the smug local councillors who are alive, well and kicking noisily in Bromley to this day.

Of the three men, however, it is Herbert Soppitt who is the really hen-pecked one.  It’s unsurprising that he and the warm, sympathetic Annie have always had a tendresse for each other. So the funniest two scenes in the play, for me, are also the most human.  The first being the scene where the erstwhile, kindly mouse, Soppitt, finally roars at the shrew; and here, Christine Lever and David Kinch showed what first-rate comic performers they are. David never fails to bring warmth and humanity to every part he plays, whilst Christine was an excellent foil to him as Clara.

But our Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress must, on this occasion, go to Sandie Campbell, who quietly rang every ounce of humour from the other great scene, where she slowly castrates Albert, as she proceeds from ‘demure’ to ‘devastatingly honest’ – a gift for any actress, which Sandie seized with both hands.  She understood the secret is to play the scene with stillness and a completely straight face, letting it slowly build from one put-down to the next – whilst Albert blusters and fumes, until the pay-off:

Albert: Why don’t you dye your hair and paint your face and go on t’stage and wear tights.
Annie: I wish I could.

Theatrical bliss!  Del Stone as Albert partnered her perfectly, exemplifying the self-satisfied, self-made and chauvinistic male of the period – and then some decades on.

Set (Bill Ransom and Adrian Pope)

As soon as the curtain ‘rose’ we felt rocketed back over century ago to the home of people our own grandparents would have felt very comfortable in.  Gorgeous red wallpaper, super period furniture, the green contrasting well with the walls.  Well-chosen décor and, of course, Bill’s charming vistas seen through the windows. If we had a quibble, we’d have liked a larger carpet to hide those floorboards.  But it was the appalling amdram French windows – sans architraves – which tried hard but just failed to spoil an otherwise perfect, authentic period set.

Lighting (Jon Lewis)

The lighting was good.  The play opens in the early evening with daylight still streaming in through the window and the conservatory – and then, when the curtains are drawn, the on-stage lighting sources appeared to be the lamp fitting suspended from the ‘ceiling’ and two wall gas lamps.  Personally, when directing, we prefer the use of table and standard lamps as the presumed sources of light on small stages, rather than wall fittings and suspended ‘central’ lights , but nevertheless the lighting worked well, so that is just us being subjective.

Sound (Ian James)

The title of the show comes from a delightful duet in the 1897 American musical comedy The Belle of New York – a popular song that the Helliwells & Co would have sung round the piano.  We were a bit surprised when the tune for Love & Marriage introduced each Acts, as this was a 1955 song made famous by Frank Sinatra.  But it turns out it was written for a TV version of Our Town which is set in the same period.  And certainly the lyric was apt and did what it needed to. All other sound effects were spot on as usual.

Properties (Beryl Neal)

Full marks for the period furniture and props.  Everything looked suitably, Edwardianly busy – yet managed to be tasteful and coordinated.  You really believed in this room and that was largely down to the selection of pictures and ornaments etc and how they had been arranged.  Sadly, we hear that Beryl who led the Props Team is going into semi-retirement, but what a high to go out on go, Beryl – and congratulations for all your brilliant work on this and countless previous productions!

Wardrobe (Joan Martin, Diana Quinn and Valerie Polydorou)

The show was dressed well and overall looked good – especially the three wives, who were suitably, fussily dressed in smart contrasting frocks that said ‘special occasion’ without being grand evening wear – which was not required at this social level.  And the wigs (Jean Golder and Polly Hart) and hair pieces looked really natural.  Nancy was nicely contrasted in a simpler, younger style, and Ruby was well turned out as the Maid in her best uniform.  We felt that Mrs Northrop, even though she is a ‘working woman’ would probably have worn a hat. The men’s costumes worked fine, but they would all have worn stiff, separate collars. 

In conclusion

And well done, too to Heather London (SM) Nicky Wilkinson, David Hart, Andrew Herbert, James Quinn, Nina James and the entire backstage crew.  But congratulations to Alice on her first, big, splendid production.  Everyone, though, should be justifiably proud of themselves for a very satisfying evening in the theatre!”

Raymond Langford Jones & John Oakenfull, May 2013 

Croydon Advertiser review by Peter Steptoe:

“What a pleasure it was to see again Priestley’s take on Edwardian life in Yorkshire.

The set evoked superbly the new middle class values of the fictional wool town of Clecklewyke with all its pretensions. The plot was that three middle aged couples celebrating their silver wedding discovered they were not legally married.

Matthew Sanderson as Gerald the chapel organist about to be sacked, nicely turns the tables with his letter containing the news. He and Nancy (Ruth Aylward) provided the love interest and made a charming couple. Ruby (Alice Foster), the maid, great northern accent, was not subservient and Mrs. Northrop (Penny Vetterlein), as the cook displayed further independence by eavesdropping.

The three married couples, of which Del Stone as Albert Parker was boring and stingy to his poor wife Annie (Sandie Campbell) but got a great many laughs doing so; Joe Helliwell (Richard Trantom) fought a resolute domestic duel with his doughty wife Maria (Carolyn Taylor) who was a worthy opponent and Herbert Soppit (David Kinch) gave a masterly performance of the worm turning on his wife (Christine Lever), whose task in life was unpleasantness.

Joseph Hughes gave a gentle portrayal as Henry Ormonroyd the drunken photographer and Nigel London made the most of the small part of Fred Dyson the Argos Reporter.

Janet Clark as Lottie Grady the brazen barmaid and Jeremy Clarke as Rev. Mercer were credible characters.

Alice London must have enjoyed directing it.”

Rehearsal photos:

IMG_5554 IMG_5564 IMG_5574 IMG_5577 IMG_5579 IMG_5586 IMG_5587 IMG_5588 The Director + some of the cast

In Two Minds | 18 – 23 February 2013

In Two Minds by Richard Harris. Director Eve Stone. 

In Two Minds poster - Theatre 62 - February 2012Theatre 62’s entry for the Bromley Theatre Guil Full Length Play Festival 2013.

Set in the present day, divorced go-ahead bookseller David is moving into a new home in outer London with his partner Annie.

Strange events cast a shadow over their new home and cause David’s negative thoughts to rise to the surface.

Their seemingly sinister neighbour, Mr Hewlett, keeps popping in uninvited. Mr Hewlett is married – but where is his wife? Why are their burnt clothes in the garden? Why don’t the exterior measurements of the house don’t match those of the interior? What’s in the cupboard?

David seems ready to excuse everyone of everything, but Annie struggles to cope with his doubts and insecurities. She finds herself in two minds about their relationship.

Photos & review below.

Cast:
David Freedman                  Simon Church
Annie Bishop                        Laura Gamble
Anthony Hewlett                 Tony Skeggs
Gina                                       Beverly Ashman

Backstage:
Stage Director                      Del Stone
Asst Stage Director             John Heather
Set construction & decor    John Heather, Andrew Heather, Adrian Pope, Ian Saunders, Del Stone, members of T62
Lighting design                     David Hart
Sound design                        Andrew Herbert
Technical Assistants            Daniel McIIhiney, James Quinn
Stage Manager                     Sue Hicks
Asst Stage Managers          Ryan Gray, Nicola Wilkinson
Props                                     Sandie Campbell
Costumes                              Eve Stone
Make-up & hair                    Jean Golder, Penny Vetterlein, Christine Lever
Prompt                                   Janet Claerk, Beryl Neal

House Manager                    John Heather
Refreshments                       Lynne Craig, Audrey Knighton
Raffle                                     Sandie Campbell, Sue Hicks 
Box Office                             Margaret Uzzell
Poster/programme design Graham Copeland
Programme Editor               John Guttridge

IN TWO MINDS, Reviewed by Peter Steptoe (Croydon Advertiser)

Richard Harris is a very clever playwright and though appearing to specialise in crime his two most successful plays were ‘Outside Edge’ and ‘Stepping Out’.
 
This one described as a psychological thriller, with innumerable scenes was like a slow burning fuse; for with each scene we got a little bit more information along with some character development. It said a great deal for the author’s skill that we the audience were glued to what was going on and our very silence betrayed that interest. Mr Harris also provided a few red herrings so that we were never certain the direction the play would take.
 
David Freeman (Simon Church) was Jewish, divorced and suspicious of his neighbour, Anthony Hewlett (Tony Skeggs) who had been given a key by the previous owner of the Victorian house and whose antics always subsequently had a reasonable explanation. David’s partner was Annie Bishop beautifully played by Laura Gamble who had the rare ability of not appearing to be acting. She found David’s suspicions difficult to put up with but more than held her own in the contest. Simon Church’s was the more difficult part and after a pause ridden beginning deftly showed his character’s neurotic tendencies.
 
I liked Tony Skeggs vaguely sinisterly hesitancies as the misunderstood neighbour with the vanished wife  and Beverly Ashman as Gina the cleaning lady added to our bewilderment as to what was actually going on.
 
Great set with kitchen and living room and Director Eve Stone ably kept the pot boiling.

In Two Minds - cast & director a b c d e f g