The 2018-19 Season
One Man Two Gov’nors started the season and gave the audience plenty to laugh about. Superbly directed by Christine Richardson. The cast of 12 gelled perfectly, delivering with panache the fantastic lines from Richard Bean’s bizarre plot, loosely based on an 18th Century Italian comedy. Nigel Pierce, as Francis Henshall, gave an energetic performance and was responsible for maintaining the play’s cracking pace. Steve Daniels as Charlie Clench was wonderful as the geezer-gangster, Kyle Newman as the twin of her brother murdered by her boyfriend, played by Daniel Shorley. Much humour came from the cameo performance of Mark Bodicoat as Alfie the waiter with a pacemaker, displaying his gifts for timing and comedy. Sarah parker as nice-but-dim Pauline Clench was an ideal foil for Alistair Beeson as her boyfriend, Alan Dangle, the would-be actor who was beautifully OTT. Lisa McLean as Dolly, Charlie’s book-keeper, clearly enjoying every minute as the tart-with-a-heart displaying wonderful body and facial language. Other cast members Wendy Lomas, Barbara Lloyd, Andrew Maltman and Rod Scribbins whose smaller contributions were equally as valuable. This great show has set a high standard for the season. Edited from a review in the Harborough Mail by Gordon Birch
TALKING HEADS BY ALAN BENNETT
The First Studio Production of the season presented Two of Alan Bennett’s dramatic monologues, Talking Heads, which were applauded enthusiastically by the capacity audiences. Kay Chapman gave an excellent rendering of the frustrated, alcoholic Vicar’s wife in A Bed Among the Lentils. Then in A Chip in the Sugar the part of the middle aged Graham, still dependent on his mother and threatened when she meets an old flame, was enthusiastically and ably portrayed by Mike Allan. Both witty monologues elicited plenty of laughter. Those attending left with smiles on their faces.
Teresa Quigley, as Suzy, gave a convincing and consistent performance with her faultless interpretation of a blind person, terrorized by a group of thugs searching for a doll stuffed with heroin (which accidentally arrived at her apartment). Suzy is not stupid and along with a schoolgirl neighbour, played successfully by Fearne Towson, she launches a counter plot against the thieves. Neil Lovegrove, Joe Goatley and Mark Aspland were all suitably menacing and manipulative as the sinister trio of thieves and con-men and murderers.
Extracts of the review from On Stage Northants. Mark Bodicoat, the director carefully guided the depth of each character in this square dance of sexual and emotional relationships as they are joined, broken, betrayed, so that the audience could empathise with the characters, because we have been there too. ” It was brave of MHDS to stage this play. Theatre should push boundaries, ask questions and be though provoking as well as entertaining.”
“Eloise-May Rankin should be commended for her interpretation of the enigmatic Alice. Her vulnerability is tragically beautiful but masked with her independence. Watching her character was thought provoking. She craves human connection but does she ever truly get it? Nick Turrell handled the character of Larry with grace. His interpretation showed the character’s insecurities and how they can manifest themselves in anger and resentment. Pip Nixon’s, Dan felt authentic and grounded. The obituary writer is a romantic at heart, desires what he can’t have and then becomes fixated until he acquires it. Pip’s Dan was able to affect the audience with his pensive demeanour, making us want to know more about him. Anna Buckley gave a captivating, strong and honest portrayal of the photographer Anna. She was elegant, feminine and relate-able. I found myself conflicted as I wanted her to end up happy, but the question I kept asking myself was did she actually deserve to be happy?”
This Season’s ONE ACT PLAYS, GOODBYE IPHIGENIA AND LIONS AND DONKEYS presented a total contrast in style and centuries, but were linked by the theme of human sacrifice.
The first was based on Euripides’ Greek Tragedy of 408BC, by George MacEwan Green. Directed by John Foreman, the cast, aged between 14 and 18 years, showed remarkable insight of the story of the eponymous virgin princess made the sacrifice for the Greek Navy’s need of a fair wind to set sail for Troy.
The second play, written by Steve Harper, was set in the 1918 trenches, near the end of the war. Directed by Neil Lovegrove, it was a fictional story of war weary German and British soldiers who decided to live harmoniously, pretending to their authorities that they were still fighting.How would they react when a young ‘wet behind the ears’ officer turns up to give the Sgt an award for bravery? Ben Reid was impressive as Lieut. Willy Schmitt and Simon Howard as Sgt Tommy Atkins, Neil lovegrove as Corporal Dave Rawlings, and Alistair Beeson as pompous Lt Harry Hargreaves, all gave well-defined characterisations bringing out both the humour and the pathos of the script.
LLOYD GEORGE KNEW MY FATHER
Director Maggie Kirk can be justly proud of this production, which had unrelenting pace and an experienced cast who made the most of every line. Lloyd Geroge Knew My Father is a black comedy by William Douglas-Home. It’s about a stately home, the estate of which is to be sliced in half with the construction of a bypass. Not very comedic on the face of it, but when the home’s owners are a batty retired general and his ‘Penelope Keith-like’ wife, the subject takes on a different image. Tony Price and Nicky Mawer were perfectly paired and fabulously funny as General Sir William and Lady Sheila Boothroyd, who both got crazier as the action proceeded. Mark Wood, as their MP son, Hubert, was wonderfully superior and Helen Foreman as his wife, Maud, was contrastingly mild-mannered. Millie Whitcher, Ben Liptrott, Les Dodd and Peter Warren all added to the enjoyment of this feel-good crazy comedy.
Edited from a review by Gordon Birch.
EDITH IN THE DARK BY PHILIP MEEKS
Both gasps of fear and laughter filled the auditorium as the audiences were enthralled by this play, which enacted a mixture of some of the truth of famous author,Edith Nesbit’s life and some of her eerie ghost and horror stories, written before her children’s books. The strong cast of Teresa Quigley, Mark Aspland, and Sarah Parker impressively played Edith, Mr Guasto and Biddy Thricefold respectively, as well as all the characters in the plays within the play. The action was atmospherically augmented by music composed by Amanda Priestley and many good sound effects, as well as effective and complex lighting effects.
AFTER MISS JULIE by PATRICK MARBER
The second studio play of this season was the Strindberg play ‘Miss Julie’ brought into the 20th Century by Patrick Marber. It was excellently directed by Neil Lovegrove and well acted by Alison Kennerdell as the somewhat hysterical sexual tease Miss Julie who wants to seduce John on this drunken night of celebration, Paul Barras as John, the servant with aspirations to better himself, but unable to fully break free of his class role, and Wendy Lomas as the long suffering cook and Fiance to John, who will be there come what may . The lighting was atmospheric and the minimal set was appropriate for the kitchen of the time.
LOSING THE PLOT BY JOHN GODBER
A well-written script, good casting and reliable direction summed up the production of Losing the Plot, the last of the 2018-19 season of plays by MHDS. It was expertly directed by Jan Wilson, who carefully cast Liz Clarke and Mike Allen as the husband and wife in this two-strong cast in this comedy. They were funny, totally believable and drew the audience in to their story. As a couple they were realistic, natural and relaxed. Another excellent set, the couple’s kitchen – was the work of Tony Osborn and his team. Even the fridge was working.