The casting and indeed the bulk of the work is done by the director, Mr Tufnell, because as well as directing the actors he also supervises the building of the set.
The stage crew have the difficult task of erecting the set. These boys come in two nights a week, and banging, clanking and howls of pain come out of their efforts (not forgetting the set of course!)
The play chosen for last autumn was "London Assurance", a comedy by Dion Boucicault. Set in the 19th Century, it compares London Society life with middle-class rural living. The plot revolves around Metropolitan know-all, Sir Harcourt Courtly, played superbly by Jim McIntyre. He starts the ball rolling by announcing to his valet, Cool (Andrew Keal), that he is about to re-marry, a niece of his old friend, Max Harkaway. He has a son, Charles, by his first marriage, whom he thinks is an absolute angel, but is in fact running up debts everywhere he goes. He has just been out getting drunk with a con-man called Dazzle, who was exquisitely portrayed by Philip Smith, when Max calls at Sir Harcourt's door to arrange the wedding. Mistaking Dazzle for Charles, he invites him to the wedding, which conveniently gives Charles (Gerhard Reispatt) a way out the back door with Dazzle, because he is being chased by a Mr Solomon Isaacs, to whom he owes money. As the story continues, Charles falls in love with Grace, the girl his father is going to marry. Grace, played perfectly in character by Catherine Bristow, pretends not to fall in love with him, but does. However, when Sir Harcourt arrives, Charles tells him he is not his son, but a man called Augustus Hamilton. Meanwhile, a couple of Maxis friends, Mr Adolphus and Lady Gay Spanker, arrive to stay for a couple of days, and just to muddle things up even more, Sir Harcourt falls in love with Lady Gay.
Lady Gay Spanker who was a very 'tally-ho' sort of person, was played by Colette Bowker, a difficult part which was well executed. Her henpecked husband was an Irishman who never knew quite what to say, or when to say it. John Mulligan played the part adequately enough, but 'Dolly' was never strong enough to conquer his powerful wife. Paul Watson played James, a butler, excellently, as did the amourous Miss Pert with her man Jenks, played by Karen Feeney and Mark Wizbek. In the thick of it all was Mark Meddle, a lawyer, who was played most amusingly by Philip Philpott. One of Max's servants, Mrs Howton was played well by Catherine Philpott as was Martin, (a manservant to Sir Harcourt), by Jeremy D'Costa.
The play ends with all the women getting their men, and poor old Sir Harcourt getting nothing.
As far as I know, nearly all of the audience I spoke to said that they liked the performance. One spectator wrote : "The play was well executed and well cast with the lighting, costumes and set, all adding up to an excellent production."
I believe that the performance only comes over right if the actors enjoy themselves on stage. Acting is a superb outlet for extroverts, you can get up on stage and say anything, wear anything, in fact do anything. We may get bellowed at once in a while, but I wouldn't do anything unless I enjoyed it, so on the whole it's well worth it. You make many new friends and discover many hidden talents amongst you, so if there's anyone who thinks he's got something to offer, have a go - you never can tell till you try !
The play chosen for our Easter production was 'Bottom's Dream' adapted from Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Nights Dream" by Alan Poole. The plot is the same, the set is the same, in fact everything is, except that the ladies get their say. The 'dream' is considered from Bottom's point of view and the play starts by Bottom falling asleep in bed, with his wife complaining about his snoring. I thought that Ian Pearson played, the part of Bottom remarkably well.
The play mainly deals with three camps, the ordinary workmen, the fairies and the Royal Court of Theseus. Mrs Bottom was excellently portrayed by Nicky Thomas, always trying to be one up on her boastful husband. Mr & Mrs Starveling were played very well by Simon Byrne and Maureen Grandorge, who nagged superbly. Francis Flute was portrayed by Christopher Carey, who rather stole the show at the end, with his superb portrayal of Thisbe. His mother, Karen Feeney played the wheezing, complaining old mum perfectly. Snug, the joiner, was played by Darren Williams, a difficult job, well handled. His sympathetic and yet uncompromising wife was played by Tara O'Neill, who did her job excellently. The last of the mechanicals was Peter Quince, who controlled his part beautifully. The fairies led their own lives in the wood until these strange men came to rehearse a play for the Duke's wedding. Puck, a mischievous young sprite, was played by Simon Welsh, who spoke clearly and plainly and kept his mind on the job, which must have been difficult in the costume he was wearing. Titania, Queen of the Fairies was beautifully and delicately played by Cathy Mulvaney whose sombre husband was Oberon, played by John Mulligan, who undid all of Puck's dirty work. I thought all of the other fairies, Kieran Purcell, Andrew Burke, Sam Aligbe and Roger Anthony coped very well on a difficult stage.
As to Theseus' Royal Court, Philostrate was played by Jeremy D'Costa and Hippolyta, Theseus's bride was played patiently by Sara Fulgoni. Theseus' himself was again played by John Mulligan who was given the unenviable task of changing from one costume to another (a fourteen bottom tunic suit - military style !) in about three minutes.
By far the funniest scene was the last one, in which the mechanicals present their play to the Duke.
The play ended with Bottom waking up in his bed finding out it was only midnight and that he had had a dream. To round off, the two nightwatchmen, played by Peter Gardiner and Jeremy Davis, go back along the street calling out their words as the lights fade to black.
If the audience's response was anything to go by, then the actors and everyone involved
deserve a great pat on the back.