Maskers Studio Theatre
2 - 10 March 2018

At 7:30pm. No performance on Sunday 4th March

No performance on Friday 2nd March due to weather conditions!



The Reviews


5th March 2018

The Killing Of Sister George is essentially a parody of controversial exit plots in long-running serial drama The Archers: Sister George is a fictional radio character, a district nurse in the rural community of Applehurst (rather than Ambridge), who is being controversially written out of the BBC radio soap in order to boost ratings and ‘save the show’. The problem is that actress June Buckridge has become so engrained in playing this role that she is taking her alter ego’s death very personally indeed – and the actress’s behaviour leading up to the decision may give credibility to that reaction! Although Sister George is a completely benevolent, sweet, almost pious and altruistic character, Buckridge (referred to as George) is the total opposite: she has extreme mood-swings (fuelled by her excessive use of gin) and is controlling and insulting of her flatmate, the innocent and susceptible Alice ‘Childie’ McNaught, who seeks solace in her numerous Victorian dolls. Sarah Russell is excellent as the multi-faceted George, a real Jekyll and Hyde character: sycophantic to BBC executive Mrs Mercy, showing an almost frail side to her when her career (and purpose) is threatened, while being obnoxious and oppressive towards Childie. She flicks the switch between her character’s mood-swings as effortlessly and seamlessly as she does the different accents she has mastered. Although the George’s sexuality is never explicitly defined, it is clearly implied through Russell’s physicality, posture and mannerisms (arguably stereotypical, but in keeping with the satirical nature of the play). Joanna Iacovou is utterly compelling as the vulnerable and downtrodden Childie; not only does she portray a complex character and range of accents with great skill and finesse, she inhabits the role, actively listening when the focus of attention is with the other actors on stage, accentuating her character’s presence with a subtly that never pulls focus away from whoever else is speaking at the time. The way that she defends her abuser one moment, cowering from her ill-treatment the next, is provocative and poignant. Again, the nature of Childie’s relationship with George is not clearly depicted, but this somehow adds to the authenticity of the scenario. Meri Mackney (BBC management persona, Mercy) and Jill Desborough (fortune-telling neighbour, Madame Xenia) provide first-rate support, both demonstrating very good comic timing and characterisations; Mackney’s sartorial, gesture and vocal nuances are reminiscent of a Dolores Umbridge type of character, although she is ultimately more benevolent! The props and costumes are perfect for the 1960s setting with great attention to detail (I’m sure the tea in act 1 is actually steaming hot!), while the radio excerpt and pre-show/interval soundtrack demonstrates how much good sound design (by Jamie McCarthy) and execution enhances a stage production. I am still undecided if I actually like this play or not; it is challenging and at times unpalatable (whatever the relationship is between George and Childie, it is clearly an abusive one, both verbally and physically, which at times is very uncomfortable to watch), although the themes within as are relevant, even with a different perspective, now as when the play was written in the 1960s. However, there is no doubting the quality of the performances of the four members of the all-female cast, or the skill of director Kristina Wilde in overseeing this production’s transition to the intimate venue of the Maskers Studio. With the performance space angled with seating arranged to create a thrust stage, it would be possible to see this play on more than one occasion and take something different away from each viewing. The actors move naturally, facing each other squarely as they would in reality, rather than always performing out to the audience – and this adds to the impact and power of the performances through their naturalistic body language, stance and gestures. The production is very well-paced and all the elements of pathos, poignancy and dark humour are palpable.

- Anne Waggott

Audience Comments

"Once again Maskers provide a show that combines drama and humour. The cast were excellent and a well done to the director and crew Also a big thumbs up to the very authentic set." - C.O.

"A really brilliant performance, fantastic costumes and set. Thoroughly enjoyed my evening." - M.E.

"I had the pleasure of watching “Sister George” another great production at our local theatre in Shirley, Although a small venue, you really feel the ambience of the place It was a great show which was delivered extremely well by the cast along with an authentic set. Well done by all that made it happen. Thanks for the enjoyable evening." - S.L.

"Brilliant performance by everybody. So enjoyed it." - H.S.

The iconoclastic cult comedy that rocked the West End!

You're Fired!

June "George" Buckridge has it all. Beautiful girlfriend Alice "Childie" McNaught, who makes a mean scone. A plush award-filled flat overlooking Broadcasting House... and a star turn as district nurse Sister George in popular radio show "Applehurst".
On air she's warm and loving. Off-air, she indulges in power-play games with her partner Childie, swears like a soldier at anyone who crosses her path, and has been known to molest a nun or two. Well, it IS the Swinging Sixties, after all.
Such a shame, then, that her riotous behaviour has reached the ears of the BBC...

Who is going to be brave enough to tell George that she's fired? Will George ever have a career again? And will neighbour Madame Xenia ever stop interfering?
Frank Marcus's infamous play comes to the Maskers studio for 8 days only!

Step into George's domain and witness the pitch-black comedy that went on to shock the world.

Director & Cast

The Director of this production is Kristina Wilde
This is Kristina's first attempt to direct for Maskers and hopefully it has resulted in a success! Usually she is found onstage instead of behind it but the chance to direct one of her favourite plays was too much for her to pass up. Previously, Kristina directed Hedda Gabler for the 2012 Brighton Fringe, and Love's Labours Lost in 2011, both for the University of Sussex.

June Buckridge (Sister George) is played by Sarah Russell
Sarah has been a Masker for 15 years and can usually be found behind the scenes as part of the busy marketing team. She has appeared in many productions - favourites include The Graduate (Nuffield), The Man in the Iron Mask (Mottisfont Abbey) and Butterfly Kiss (Maskers Studio). Most recently, Sarah directed Great Expectations at The Berry (March 2017). For the part of George, Sarah is enjoying the challenge of testing her line-learning capabilities and being part of a talented cast and crew.

Alice 'Childie' McNaught is played by Jo Iacovou
Joanna has played many roles since joining Maskers over fourteen years ago; last year she played multiple parts in Around the World in 80 Days. Favourite roles have included Ruby Birtle in When We Are Married and Rita in Educating Rita. Jo branched out into directing with Our Town at Maskers Studio Theatre for which she won Best Director of a Drama in the Curtain Call Awards 2014.

Mrs Mercy Croft is played by Meri Mackney
Meri has been a Masker for many years and has been involved in numerous productions, both on and off stage. Last year she appeared in An Italian Straw Hat (Nuffield) and directed and played in the Christmas show at the Maskers Studio, Let It Snow. Favourite directing credits include Anne Boleyn, The Jungle Book and Pygmalion – all open-air productions at Hamptworth Lodge. She is enjoying developing the sweetly vicious character of Mrs Mercy and working with such a brilliant cast and crew.

Madame Xenia is played by Jill Desborough
Jill has been a Masker since 2014 and has had roles in a touring production of Richard II, Metamorphosis and Christmas shows at Maskers Studio and two outdoor shows, Jungle Book and Pygmalion. She is enjoying creating the zany Madame Xenia!

Radio Voices
Announcer - David Pike
"Applehurst" characters: Fred - Tony Lawther, Bill - Eric Petterson, Farmer Bomley - Ken Hann

Creative Team

Production Manager
Robert Osborne
Stage Manager
Robert Osborne
Set Dressing
Adam Taussik
Robert Osborne
Lighting Designer
David Jobson
Lighting Operator
David Jobson
David Cowley
Sound Designer
Jamie McCathy
Sound Operator
Jamie McCathy
Costume Design & Wardrobe
Bonnie Kaye
Adam Taussik
Rehearsal Prompt
Val Struthers

Ticket Information

Tickets £9.50

No concessions

Poster, Flyer & Programme

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy; Marketing Director:- Sarah Russell; Marketing Team:- Angela Stansbridge, SJ Wareham, James Norton, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney; Front of House Manager:- Chris Baker; Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker; Photography:- Clive Weeks, Stuart Gray, Ian Wilson; Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney
Image Gallery
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Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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