Peter Calver (Chairman), Maia Oleson and Kevin Charman (from sponsors
ICB Group), Nicholas Owen (Patron)
21st - 24th February
Peter Calver (Chairman
of the SCDF) introduced us to our Adjudicator for the week Jennifer
Scott-Reid, who was making her first appearance at the Barn as Festival
The plays in this
year's festival were all of an extremely high standard. They benefitted
from salient feedback from the adjudicator who also took time to informally
chat with Directors and actors after the shows which was greatly appreciated.
And so to the first
of the plays...:
"The Allotment" by Gillian Plowman performed by Sevenoaks
Four women are carrying
out community service working on an allotment. As the story unfolds,
we discover the various actions that have led to their punishments.
Marcie, played by Shelia Bramley, had been convicted of dangerous driving.
Norah, played by Emma Margrett, was a shoplifter. Lorna, played by Deborah
Berger-North, was an arsonist. Belle, played by Kathy Gelbert, blackmailed
her boss. The fifth character Daisy, the new probation officer, was
played by Ruth Makepiece. The actors defined their roles clearly as
they alternated between the reality of the present and their fantasies,
each being believable as they recounted their pasts and justified their
criminal actions. There were strong performances particularly during
the monologues. All the actors had good projection and spoke their lines
clearly. The group worked well as an ensemble piece. The experienced
Sandra Barfield directed them in a confident way, using all the stage
and creating some very picturesque tableaux. The set was well designed
to denote the outdoors and the lighting enhanced the atmosphere. The
lively opening music set the scene and the modern day costumes were
Abroad" by Alan Bennett performed by Roan Theatre Company
A newcomer to the
festival, Roan Theatre Company, performed the play which was based on
a meeting of the actress Coral Browne and the defecting spy Guy Burgess.
Alan Bennett presents his vision of this true story of a chance meeting.
Sarah Coleman as Coral Browne and Stuart Mitchell Smith as Guy Burgess
were well matched and seemingly very comfortable with each other. They
used the stage well and voice production was clear. The costumes enhanced
their roles. The set was evocative of a seedy Moscow flat and lighting
was used to create spotlight areas for the monologues and vignettes
with the tailor and assistant. These two cameo roles were well played
by Richard Rickson and Graham Johnson respectively. They portrayed the
sophisticated world that Burgess had relinquished. Callum Brice played
the comedic role of Tolya, the minder which brought some light relief
and singing into the well-crafted and sensitive production. Director
Simon Clifton managed to convey the craftsmanship of Alan Bennett and
the result was a very watchable piece of theatre.
Sarah Coleman was nominated in the Best Adult Actress category and Callum
Brice was nominated for the Adjudicator's Award as she particularly
liked his rendition of the song. Stuart Mitchell Smith was awarded Best
Best Actor – Stuart Mitchell Smith (Guy Burgess)
"Nine" by Jane Shepard performed by The Oxted Players
SCDF gives theatre
groups a chance to be experimental and push the boundaries of drama.
If the media has not already done so, The Oxted Players production of
Nine brought to our attention the horror and fear of hostage taking.
In this two-hander we were exposed to humanity in its rawest state.
Ghislaine Bowden's sensitive direction and the actor’s portrayals kept
the audience gripped throughout the performance. Croia Reilly, as the
maintained credibility and was a perfect foil for the gentler innocence
of Amy Prosser, the humanitarian aid worker. As the dialogue swung between
dominance and terror these two actors supported each other and gave
very sensitive performances. The scripted dark humour and word play
added to the overall feeling of desperation by these two strong actors.
The realistic sound effects and stark lighting enhanced the atmosphere.
The simple set was the perfect compliment for such a thought provoking
piece of theatre.
Croia Reilly was nominated for Best Adult Actress and Amy Prosser was
awarded Best Adult Actress. The Martin Patrick Award for Best Director
went to Ghislaine Bowden. The Oxted Players were nominated for Best
Stage Presentation and received Best Adult Production. They were the
overall winners this week, receiving The ICB Festival Winners Award
and going through to the next heat on 13th May in Maidenhead.
Best Actress – Amy Prosser (Woman 2)
Martin Patrick Award for Best Director – Ghislaine Bowden
Best Adult Production
ICB FESTIVAL WINNERS AWARD
My Old Friend" by Sue Wilding performed by Merstham Amateur
This was a poignant
tale of family loss. The father Phil played by Bruce Christie was doubly
suffering. His son Joe disappeared whilst out playing football and his
wife had left him for another man. Bruce Christie sympathetically portrayed
Phil in a low key way with a degree of pathos and vulnerability. The
imagined conversation he had with his son was full of wry humour and
paternal love, a theme which consistently ran throughout the script.
Joe was convincing played by Guy Strain who showed theatrical promise
from this acting debut. His character was realistic and he demonstrated
a typical teenage relationship with his stage father. Marion Barker
playing the ex-wife and mother, Sarah gave sustained performance of
a woman exasperated by her ex-husband. Steve Jones directed a realistic
production with empathy and warmth. The set was simple and effective.
It echoed the desolation of the characters.
Guy Strain was nominated for both Best Young Actor and the Adjudicator's
Award, for his superb comic delivery. Bruce Christie was nominated for
the Best Adult Actor Award.
Friday 23rd February
abridged by Farrar Williams performed by the Glow Theatre
This abridged version
of Macbeth is an ideal introduction to Shakespeare for primary aged
children. The cast from Glow attacked the play with vigour and enthusiasm.
They were well disciplined and confident on stage, maintaining their
characters throughout. One member of the chorus, on finding herself
on the wrong side of the stage, strode confidently (in character) to
her assigned position. Many adult actors would have been thrown by this
error. The chorus, dressed simply with sashes to denote characters were
well drilled and performed their ensemble pieces with vivacity and accuracy.
The tableaux and fight sequences were excellent. The principle actors
spoke clearly and moved about the stage with aplomb. The sound and lighting
effects enhanced this production by Julia Ascott. She managed to channel
the children's energy and give them an enjoyable introduction to the
Millie Yeo as Lady Macbeth, Rosie Chambers as Banquo and Connie McMillian
as Macduff were all nominated for Best Young Actress. Billy Wilson as
Malcolm was nominated for Best Young Actor and Zachary Millar as Macbeth
received the Best Young Actor Award. The three witches Tamsin Felipe-Harrington,
Emmylou Davison and Brooke Patterson were nominated for the Adjudicator's
Award for physicality, commitment and hair. Lara Davis as Porter was
also nominated, showing great flair of comedy and appearing drunk. The
Adjudicator's Award went to Connie McMillan as Macduff for energy, intention
and being scary. Glow Theatre Group was nominated for Best Stage Presentation.
Best Young Actor – Zachary Millar (Macbeth)
Adjudicator’s Award – Connie McMillan (Macduff)
"Blood on Canvas"
by Richard James performed by Glow Theatre Group
thriller was ideally suited for the actors. It was obvious that Charlotte
Bridson and Isabella Falconer had thoroughly rehearsed this play and
were confident in their roles. The balance of power swung between the
two of them with fluent ease. Isabella tackled her part as an over enthusiastic
art collector with energy and humour. Her sense of timing was good and
her facial expressions and gestures created a very plausible character.
Charlotte too played a convincing role as the artist Maddie with good
sense of timing and use of pauses. The set was imaginatively conceived
with blank canvases on easels giving the appearance of an artist's studio.
The use of lighting enhanced the atmosphere with a stunning sequence
of fire and flames. The tinkling notes of the piano throughout the play
added tension to what was a nail biting and edgy drama. Director Jackie
Driscoll has again provided the audience with a high standard piece
This play was nominated for Best Stage Presentation and won Best Youth
Production. Charlotte and Isabella shared the Best Young Actress Award.
Best Young Actress – Charlotte Bridson (Maddie)
and Isabella Falconer (Stella)
Best Youth Production
"The Domino Effect"
by Fin Kennedy performed by Glow Theatre Group
Fin Kennedy has
the knack of weaving realism with fantasy to produce a magic of its
own. This is evident in The Domino Effect which charts the life journey
of the Rahman family living in the East End of London. This performance
was a vibrant sensual experience. As usual the Glow Theatre Group provided
us with a slick, well rehearsed ensemble piece full of pace and energy.
The principle characters moved and spoke with clarity and precision.
All the actors appeared confident and used the stage well. The choral
speaking was efficient and well polished due surely to many hours of
rehearsal. The whole production was enhanced by the inspired use of
many props which were skilfully constructed by Malcolm Le Croissette
and manipulated by members of the chorus. The imaginative sound and
lighting were a tour de force which added to the atmosphere and created
a magical and breath-taking journey. As ever the vision of director
Jackie Driscoll gave us an evening of drama with which we could identify.
Emma Starbuck as Nabijah Rahman and Isabella Falcolner as Samit Rahman
were nominated for Best Young Actress. Evan Moynihan as Joynul Uddin
and Joshua Millar as the Debt Collector were nominated for Best Young
Actor. This play won the Best Stage Presentation Award.
Best Stage Presentation
by Colin and Mary Crowther performed by Oast Theatre, Tonbridge
This was a many
layered story of an elderly woman selling up and moving on. As the plot
evolved, the situation became more complex. This older woman, Elizabeth,
played by Annie Young delivered all her lines, especially the long monologues,
with empathy. She had a voice which was easy on the ear and she had
good projection. She sustained her feisty character throughout. Susanna
played by Karen Gorbutt provided a good counterweight. She demonstrated
a vulnerability beneath the tough brittle surface of the estranged daughter.
Disguised as a fisherman, Cassiel played by Mel Paszkowski, was portrayed
as an all knowing guardian angel who provided the back story. His character
contrasted well with the more voluble mother and daughter. He achieved
good stage presence with his stillness and ability to listen. The set
was imaginatively designed, cleverly using a platform as a jetty and
with a skeleton boat. The discordant music and harsh birdsong added
to the friction between the two women. Sandra Barfield directed this
tale of love and loss with sensitivity and compassion. It was a thoughtful
production well suited for a festival.
Annie Young as Riverwoman was nominated as Best Adult Actress and Mel
Paszkowski was nominated as Best Adult Actor. The Oast Theatre was nominated
for Best Stage Presentation.
Reviews by Tricia
Whyte and photos by Mike Sutton