- 2nd March
Paul Hyde (Host
for the SCDF) introduced us to our Adjudicator for the week, Nick Wilkes
who was making his first appearance at the Barn as Festival Adjudicator.
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...:
"Jesus My Boy" by John Dowie performed by Tiger Productions
The first night
of the SCDF opened with the Tiger Productions presentation of "Jesus
My Boy". This performance set the bar high for the rest of the week
and Adam Dryer's portrait of Joseph the carpenter was a tour de force.
He reminisced about the life of Christ from the time of Mary's conception
until the crucifixion, from the point of view of Jesus' 'father'. The
genre is mainly one of a well sustained monologue, interspersed with
one other actor playing various characters. This combination worked
well and it gradually became obvious that the second player, Belinda
Gee, was the personification of Joseph's memories. Skilfully directed
and played, this ghost / memory / angel persona dressed in neutral white
was the perfect foil to Joseph's earthiness. Adam Dryer was the embodiment
of a simple Jewish carpenter, caught up in a web beyond his understanding.
He played with pathos and clearly demonstrated the angst and frustration
of a man coming to terms with his wife's infidelity and subsequently
of a father having to cope with his growing son's divine aspirations.
The play was well put together with lighting, sound, set design and
costumes all combining to create a cohesive piece of drama, much appreciated
by the audience.
Nomination for Best Director - Belinda Gee
Best Adult Actor - Adam Dryer (Joseph)
by Caroline Harding performed by Oast Theatre
This poignant tale
of two sisters in love with the same man, was sensitively performed
by two players from Oast Theatre. Set in Russia, it had the undertones
of a Chekhov play with family relationships both past and present at
its core. The actors were convincing, switching between affection and
jealously as siblings do. They made the most of the comedic lines, yet
retained the pathos of the situation. Lizzie Goodall portrayed Anya's
slide into inebriation subtly. Sonia, played by Maggie Weaver, provided
a good counterbalance with animation. Pamela Murphy directed this play
with empathy and used the stage well. The simple set evoked a sense
of period and much thought had gone into the choice of furniture. Lighting,
sound and costume enhanced the production and it was well received by
"My Second Best Bed" by Barry Syder performed by Sevenoaks
I have seen this
play before and again enjoyed its well resourced mix of fact and fiction.
Barry Syder fleshes out our knowledge of Shakespeare's family in an
endearing and plausible way. He has created a time capsule which was
brought to life by excellent direction, acting and staging. The simple
set of a timbered back wall and sturdy furniture brought an authentic
realism to the piece and this was enhanced by the costumes and props.
Lighting and sound effects added to the general ambience, culminating
in a very touching final scene. Natalie Smith and Helena Simpson both
gave convincing performances as Shakespeare's two daughters and acted
with sincerity. Their combined banter and reminiscences confused the
poor curate and their sense of timing added to their enjoyment. The
curate, played by Iain Drennan, was a perfect foil for the sisters quick
wittedness. The cameo role of Anne Hathaway, played by Eileen Warner,
was a touching reminder of how grief and aging memory loss can affect
a family. The whole company of actors and technicians came together
and gave us a memorable piece of drama.
Nominations for Best Adult Actor - Iain Drennan (Curate Dunstan),
Best Stage Presentation and ICB Festival Winners Award
Best Adult Actress - Natalie Smith (Susanna Hall)
Fur" by Phillip Bingham performed by Mole Valley Players
I asked the author
Phillip Bingham, what had made him choose the title. Apparently he wanted
to convey the animalistic characteristics of the two protagonists. This
allegory was evident in the performances of Dan Webb as Oscar and Emma
Smith as Liberty. As the plot developed we were subjected to a see-saw
of control between these two actors, each of whom gave very credible
performances. This was especially evident in the opening monologue,
skilfully executed by Dan Webb. The supporting cast of John Griffin,
Sue Hawksfield, Tony Dumpleton, John Duggan and Pam Lievesley, added
realism to what was a fast moving and humorous piece of theatre. Each
of these cameo roles was well drawn and appeared to have been thoroughly
researched. The Director, Joy Ridley, used the bare stage cleverly.
Simple items of furniture and props were brought on to denote the many
scene changes and lighting and sound were used imaginatively to create
different scenarios. The company is to be congratulated on producing
an ensemble piece which was slick, amusing and believable.
Nominations for Best Adult Actor - Dan Webb (Oscar), Best Adult Actress
- Emma Smith (Liberty) and Best Adult Production
by James Muirden performed by Woldingham Players
The curtains opened
to reveal a colourful garden, complete with a bench, parasol, waste
bin and portaloo (essential to the plot). There was a profusion of plants
and the set was basked in sunshine, courtesy of the lighting department.
The actors were skilfully directed by Colin Brown and moved around the
stage effortlessly producing some good tableaux. Joanna, played by Catherine
Elliott had many on-stage costume changes and adapted her persona to
suit each outfit. Joe Crisfield as Harold and Allison Blair as Victoria
were the harassed garden owners. The visitors Hugh and Henrietta played
by Rick Morris and Sarah Greenwood completed the company. All five actors
formed humorous and lively relationships clearly denoting their various
characters with accuracy and style. The sound and lighting deserve special
mention for the staging of the thunderstorm. This was a fast moving
and lively production, jointly enjoyed by both the audience and the
Nominations for Best Adult Actress - Catherine Elliott (Joanna) and
Best Adult Production
"Last Tango in
Little Grimley" by David Tristram performed by Oast Theatre
Oast Theatre gave
us a delightful surprise with their rehearsed reading of "Last Tango
in Little Grimley" which was a last minute substitution due to illness
of the cast for "Effie's Burning". The actors had only a day to prepare
for their performance and should be commended for their sterling effort.
Mel Paszkowski, Tim Hansell, Lynn Short and Sylvia Thorpe are to be
applauded for the speed in which they developed their characters. Sandra
Barfield again showed her experience and skill by directing such a show
at short notice. The sound effects and lighting flashes added to the
humour and were much appreciated by the audience. Well done Oast Theatre.
Friday 1st March
As has happened
in the past, Glow took the Barn by storm with its four productions in
this year's SCDF first round. Although all the plays were very different,
enthusiasm and energy were evident throughout. As we have come to expect
from this youth theatre company, there was a high level of professionalism
both in acting and technical aspects. The sets were simple with a play
of lighting on the cyc to denote mood. In the first three plays, black
blocks were imaginatively manoeuvred by the cast to denote various scenes.
In DNA there was the added visual aid of bare branched trees silhouetted
against the ever changing backlight. Battered wooden crates used as
benches and scattered leaves added to the atmosphere. The technical
team implemented the Director's visions with the efficiency we have
come to expect from these talented tutors. What stands out in Glow's
productions is the choral work. To manage a large number of young people
on the stage at any one time requires strict discipline and the ability
to inspire. Both of these attributes were clearly evident as was the
voice production and craft skills of the actors. Pace and cue biting
added energy and vitality to all four plays.
abridged by Julia Ascott
Julia Ascott's abridged
version of Hamlet managed to incorporate all the salient and memorable
lines. Difficult soliloquies were brought to life through excellent
Nominations for Best Young Actor - Linus Davidson (Polonius), Best
Young Actress - Connie McMillan (Hamlet 1), Best Stage Presentation,
Best Youth Production and ICB Festival Winners Award
Martin Patrick Award for Best Director - Julia
Roald Dahl's Matilda"
The younger members
of the company performed extracts from the musical Matilda with verve
and enjoyment which were well appreciated by the audience.
"Us and Them"
by David Campton
"Us and Them" is
as relevant today as it was when written in the seventies. Innovative
creation of the building of the wall was a masterstroke of direction.
This was truly an ensemble piece, fast moving and pithy.
Nomination for Best Youth Production.
"DNA" by Dennis
The young people
performing in DNA took the audience on an uncomfortable journey into
the psyche of teenagers. Each character was well crafted and the ensuing
result let to a memorable piece of theatre.
Nominations for Best Young Actor – Evan Moynihan (Mark), Best Young
Actress – Katie Palmer (Cathy), Martin Patrick Best Director Award –
Jackie Driscoll & Natasha Palmer
Best Young Actress – Molly Cook (Danny)
Best Young Actor – Jack Palmer (Phil)
Best Stage Presentation
Best Youth Production
ICB FESTIVAL WINNERS AWARD
by Keith Neville, Mike Lewis and Simon Pergande performed by
It is not often
we are treated to a musical in festival week but this production added
an extra dimension for the audience's enjoyment. This brand new musical
drama took us back to the gang culture of the sixties. Tensions and
rivalry abounded as the theme of star crossed lovers was enacted. The
actors performed with passion and commitment. They clearly enjoyed their
roles and were particularly good in the dance routines and the fighting
sequences. There were some delightful cameos. Stage direction and chorography
by Keith Neville were cleverly executed. The technical team were involved
at the inception of the play and this gave the whole production authenticity
and warmth. The stage setting was versatile and true to the piece. Lighting,
props and costume all contributed to an ambitious piece of musical theatre
which was well received by an appreciative audience.
Reviews by Tricia
Whyte and photos by Mike Sutton