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					District 4N reviews

The King’s Lynn Players                       The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Wisbech Players                           Confusions
The King’s Lynn Operatic and Dramatic Society
                                              Oliver!
March and District Amateur Operatic Society
                                              Copacabana
The Swaffham Players                          When The Lights Go On Again
RATz Youth Section                            Children of Eden
Downham Amateur Dramatic Society              Snake in the Grass
Princess Theatre Club                         Comic Potential
RATz                                          Teechers
Watlington Players                            The F A H E T G O S Production of The Mikado


The King’s Lynn Players: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Director: Carol Beveridge

Performed at The Arts Centre Guildhall Theatre, King’s Lynn on 19th March 2009

(Pending review from Regional Representative colleague).




The Wisbech Players: Confusions

Director: Chris Smith

Performed at The Angles Theatre, Wisbech on 24th March 2009

Take five one act plays from the pen of Ayckbourn, 21 characters, 14 talented performers one dog
and an excellent technical team and you have on your hands a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s
theatre. Each play was well crafted in terms of movement, pace and projection and all performers
gave good account of themselves. “Mother Figure” set the ball rolling and soon had the audience in
stitches of laughter. Following this the comedy kept rolling with “Drinking Companion”, as two
young ladies dealt with a lounge lizard. I really enjoyed Emma Richmond’s performance in this as
she slowly became inebriated. “Between Mouthfulls” must have been difficult for the performers as
the action switches to and fro from one table to another, relying on slick lighting cues and an almost
obsequious waiter superbly played by Ian Jones. “A Talk in the Park” presented us with five
characters, each delivering a wonderful monologue and becoming the nightmare park-bench
stranger to the next character. The evening was rounded off with a piece set in a marquee, and a
word here for the stage team – just brilliant, the ingenious set would not have looked out of place on
the West End stage. “Gosforth’s Fete” provided not only a hilarious play with the delightful running
gag (literally) of a jammed tea urn, there were also five wonderful characterisations. Leading the
way, Carol Harmston was outstanding as the tea lady with another peach of a part from Ian Jones
as the Vicar. Congratulations to all involved with this production and I look forward to seeing this
last piece again.


The King’s Lynn Operatic and Dramatic Society – Oliver!
Director: Liz Dickerson Musical
Director: Sam Ashby
Choreographers: Laura Farr, Laura Howard, Andrea Newstead, and Amanda Playford

Performed at The Corn Exchange, King’s Lynn on 8th April 2009

KLODS are clearly on a roll at present and picked another winner with this perennial favourite. It
must be difficult for performers to stamp their own interpretations on any role as they are all so well
established in the Public’s eye which makes some of the performances even more creditable.
Sarah Krill (Nancy) was magnificent, calling upon all her experience as she battled on with a throat
problem. Chris Fox (Fagin) was equal to the task giving a measured, mature performance. One of
the pleasures of being a NODA rep is seeing people develop and Adam Howard certainly raised his
performance a notch or two with a fine performance as the sinister Bill Sykes. Worthy of note in this
category too were the performances of Mike Pembery and Susan Power as the Sowerberrys. The
workhouse chorus of children set the standard with an opening number that won the hearts of the
audience. Played out on an impressive split level set, the whole production moved well with slick
scene changes though I was puzzled by some of the lighting plot. Diction left a little to be desired
from some performers and projection was, at times, a little weak, particularly when underscored by
the large and therefore loud orchestra. No such problems for Sam Miller though as he tackled the
part of Oliver, his singing and diction were excellent and his emotional rendition of “Where is Love”
moved many to tears. Without doubt, this was the best performance by an Oliver that I have seen.
Macintosh’s loss is King’s Lynn’s gain though I won’t be surprised if Sam moves on to the
professional stage. In addition to another good production, the quality of the programme should be
recorded also.


March and District Amateur Operatic Society: Copacabana

Director and Choreographer: Michele Larkin
Musical Director: Ivan Garford

Performed at The Neale-Wade Community College, March on 14th April 2009

Despite the best endeavours and hard work of a very talented production team things don’t always
go as planned and for once MADAOS found themselves in the unusual circumstances of presenting
a show not to their normal high standards. Programme notes and post performance enquiries
confirmed a catalogue of trials and tribulations leading right up to opening night. Just moments
before curtain up a lighting unit had to be replaced and throughout the performance the technical
team encountered problems with the computer controlled lighting rig. One expects great things
from a Larkin production and whilst the choreography matched the vibrancy and pace of the show
its execution was not as tight and synchronised as normal. Seldom have I seen so many arms and
legs going in all directions. That said one redeeming feature was the three young men dancing the
Bolero D’Amor. Problems didn’t stop with the dancing though as some of the soloist had problems
with their singing, sounding flat or missing words completely. James Ward looked relaxed and
confident on stage and acted the part of Tony well, suiting the part nicely. As Samantha, Annie
Larkin acted and danced the part very well but struggled with the musical score which seemed to be
beyond her vocal range. Good support was provided by the rest of the company, particularly Claire
Lilley (Gladys) and Jenny Slingsby (Conchita). Comedy timing and use of the stage was good with
the ten strong orchestra creating the right mood and tempo. Colourful costumes added a spark of
elegance to proceedings.


The Swaffham Players: When The Lights Go On Again
Director: Brian Hubbard
Choreographers: Clare Knock and Amy Daniels
Musical Director: Jill Dobbs

Performed at Hamonds High School, Swaffham on 15th April 2009

I’m not sure if this is a play with music or a musical with songs from the 1940’s, but either way there
is no mistaking the pleasure it brought to a packed house, and what a delight to see “Sold Out”
posted on the door. Swaffham Players certainly picked a winner with this one and full marks for the
staging and technical team behind this production. The clever insertion of contemporary newsreels
or radio sound bites added a chilling touch to proceedings and really brought home the pain,
horrors and comradeship of those perilous days. This was the best I have seen from Swaffham
Players as they tackled not only the nostalgic songs but also the drama. The fine performances
from all principals ensured both the comedy and the heartache came across. As a camp gay
Gordon, Roger Billverstone had the audience in tears almost, as did Vicky Billman and Sue Baxter
with their excellent performances as a couple of cheeky charladies. The real poignancy of this
piece was the reading of letters home or to the front, especially the one from the Mother to her son.
I couldn’t help thinking that, 65 years on; Mothers no doubt echo the same sentiments to British
Troops serving abroad trying to up hold in other quarters a freedom won in Europe in 1945 at such
a terrible price. The quality of acting and delivery from Maureen Silver, David Mycock, Nikita Ward,
Rachel Johnson, James Hewett and Christine Haines was excellent. The movement and
choreography of this piece, along with the singing and costumes were all to an equally high
standard. This is a gem of a show but with limited shelf life I suspect, as the main target audience
is now over 70 years of age.


RATz Youth Section: Children of Eden

Director and Choreographer: Emlyn Moment
Band Leader: Gabriel Fitzsimmons
Additional Choreographer: Cynthia Maxey
Vocal Coaching: Gemma Harvey

Performed at The Angles Theatre, Wisbech on 17th April 2009

There was so much to enjoy about this production both from the artistic presentation on the night
and the actual content of the show which was new to me. Based on the book of Genesis; the story
moves from the creation of the Garden of Eden to the story of Noah and the Flood. Regardless of
personal beliefs, this production was quite sensational and RATz Youth section once again rose to
the challenge with another production to add to its impressive track record. With the Tree of
Knowledge set up stage right and a sweeping quarter circle ramp from up stage centre to down
stage right this company never ceases to impress with its artistic use of the performing space. On
the technical front sound and lighting design and execution were to a high standard. The opening
sequence “Let there be light” and the onset of the deluge were particularly effective. Costumes set
the right tone and collectively looked well co-ordinated and I just loved the animal masks, they were
excellent. A near faultless production sparkled with numerous cameo roles and some fabulous
songs, I particularly liked “Stranger to the Rain” and “The hardest part of love”, both of which moved
me to tears. Musically this production was supported by an eight piece orchestra which sounded
terrific and balanced well with the cast on stage. Direction and choreography were very tight and it
was a real joy to watch so many youngsters move and sing as one. Individual performances were
all good and much rested on the shoulders of Jess Bates (Father) her stage presence and singing
set the bench mark for the rest of the cast. With so many notable performances from the cast it
would be unfair to name any others individually. Suffice to say, for any group with a set of talented
youngsters, this is a show well worth considering and I congratulate RATz on their choice and first
class presentation.
Downham Amateur Dramatic Society: Snake in the Grass

Director: Elaine Johnson

Performed at The Town Hall, Downham Market on 30th April 2009

Let me start by congratulating the set design and construction team and the Director for such
excellent use of the stage. An entrance to a tennis court set up stage right, a raised veranda
complete with summer house (incorporating a deep well) up stage left and a stage covered with
“grass” and stepping stones. Effective and sometimes sinister lighting plot completed the ambiance
for this spine tingling drama. With three female characters (and one male voice) this drama unfolds
before us in an intriguing manner, and whilst I guessed the first sting in the tail I was taken
completely by surprise by the other four that followed. The varying pace and mood was excellent
with some of the pauses almost unbearable (Alfred Hitchcock could not have done better and I’m
sure the Prompt must have been on tender hooks for fear of inadvertently breaking the tension). A
play of this nature requires three top class actresses and DADS came up trumps with the trio of Caz
Taylor (Annabel Chester), Kerry Eburah (Miriam Chester) and Cath Duhig (Alice Moody). Each
developed their character in a believable manner and delivered their lines extremely well, sending a
cold shiver down my spine on more than one occasion. There was no disguising the pain and
burden each character carried and each in turn gained the empathy or sympathy of the audience as
a past wrong or cruelty was revealed. Cath Duhig was on fine form playing the role of a blackmailer
while DADS’ newcomer, Caz Taylor, turned in a commanding performance as the older sister. With
one of the best individual performances I have seen this year, Kerry Eburah’s portrayal of the
schizophrenic younger sister was excellent. The same can be said of the direction also as DADS
put the D back into drama.


Princess Theatre Club: Comic Potential

Director: Mary Mackie

Performed at The Princess Theatre, Hunstanton on 14th May 2009

This play has at its core the concept of robotic ‘actoids’ replacing actors in daytime TV soaps with
the sub plot of a human falling in love with one of them. It opens in a TV studio with ‘actoids’ filming
the next instalment of a popular hospital soap drama. Problems start when one ‘actoid’ miss quotes
its lines. To the disconcertment of the director another ‘actoid’ starts to laugh. The humorous, yet
sinister realisation is that artificial intelligence has moved on to a new level. Couple this
development with the amorous attentions of a young writer and you have the comic potential
leading to numerous comical situations. It was interesting to observe the audience’s reaction to
these various developments; situations that one could relate to were very well received but more
“sinister” situations left you with an uncomfortable feeling. This was another bold choice by the
Society and on the whole very well presented with 13 performers covering 22 different roles. First
night nerves did require the prompt to intervene on occasions but this didn’t detract from the pace of
the production. One problem I did have was with characters dressed in black or dark clothes
performing in front of black tabs. That aside, this production made good use of the stage and was
well cast with each performer making a full contribution to proceedings. As the love struck young
writer Tobias Nicholls made a first class job of his role, the interactions between him and other
members of the cast worked very well. Sophie Hampton was excellent in the role of Jacie
Triplethree as the rogue ‘actoid’ her comic timing and delivery of the innocent lines was a joy to
behold. The scenes in the dress shop and restaurant were hilarious. With strong support from all
the cast this production was a good night out at the theatre. This is a play worthy of consideration
by any Society looking for a production with numerous cameo opportunities.


RATz: Teechers

Director : Kevin Shippey

Performed at The Angles Theatre, Wisbech on 15th May 2009

This last term at RATz has seen the group produce some of its finest work and with this latest
project one must first congratulate the arts and craft faculty on the innovative and rather novel
programme. The design and technology faculty should also be commended for the design and
execution of lighting and sound, not forgetting the important aspects of set construction, stage
dressing and uniforms, all to “A” grade standard. The Head Master should be proud of his charges
as he directed them through the final stages of life as students prior to them becoming students of
life. And what of the students them selves? Clearly the three young performers probably already
know more about the craft of acting than I and the only lesson one could teach is to know the
difference between speed and pace. The structure of this production required each performer to
provide in their roles the narrative and to portray various different characters. To their credit they did
this to perfection and not once did I lose who was who and what the story line was, (nor for that
matter did they lose the underlying political comment of the play). Not only that, they also had to
remember which of the four desks to be at, what prop or minor costume accessory to wear.
According to the programme notes both Richard Thompson (Salty) and Laura-Jayne Shippey
(Hobby) played seven characters and Annie Larkin (Gail) played nine characters. Each had the
ability to change character at the flick of a switch in a seamless move. I was very impressed by
Richard’s voice technique and Laura-Jayne’s mannerisms with these changes but the subtlest
change came from Annie as she switched from teenage school girl with a crush on Sir to an adult
character. The trilogy performed under spotlights was brilliant and the entire production passed
with honours with all three performers being a credit to their school uniform.


Watlington Players: The F A H E T G O S Production of The Mikado

Director and Choreographer: Kate Ayres
Musical Director: Kate Mould

Performed at The Village Hall, Watlington on 28th May 2009

Until recently I had never seen a “Farndale” then like the proverbial number nine bus two come
along one after the other! Watlington pulled out all the stops with this production in order to present
the epitome of ineptitude, miss casting and wooden acting. As with all “Farndales” there is so much
going on, it was almost impossible to spot genuine errors, fluffed lines or missed entrances. Suffice
to say they occurred at regular intervals throughout, much to the delight of the audience. If this had
been a true G&S production I’m sure the sub title would be “The Orchestra’s Revenge”, as
musicians sat there organising a party and paying no heed to the needs of performers on stage. On
one occasion I spotted “Three Blind Mice” being played and I’m sure there were probably several
other musical jokes I missed. It was easy to spot those in the audience who knew their G&S and
those who must have wondered at times what all the laughter was about. This merciless comedic
attack on amateur theatre, women’s institutions and G&S was very funny and delivered in fine style
by the cast. A clever, two-way programme, coupled with greetings when entering the hall from the
Chairwoman Phoebe Reece and the Vicar Reg Bishop, set the scene nicely. There were many fine
performances in this production, with some delightful idiosyncrasies from a host of performers, but I
must resist the urge to have a little list! Suffice to say Julie Bjerregaard (Mrs Reece) was
outstanding in her role as an archetypal, shires lady use to taking charge and totally unfazed by the
mayhem surrounding her. Her excellent characterisation was very much in the vein of Joyce
Grenfell. In my opinion, Margaret Mould (Hermione Elkin) was the one performer who had the
audience in fits of laughter every time. A veritable female Corporal Jones complete with Zimmer
frame. A most enjoyable production and the ultimate most ingenious paradox is it not; that
amateurs present a self deprecating piece of work such as this production? (LOL as Mrs Reece
would say). Congratulations to all involved.

				
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