show
The Maskers' Studio Theatre
13 - 18 May 2019

Performances at 7:30pm.  

Telephone bookings 0333 666 3366 (booking fee applies to phone bookings)

This play contains strong language. Suitable for ages 14 & over

The production is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD

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The Reviews

Scene1+

13 May 2019

The story of A Bunch of Amateurs centres around a fading Hollywood actor, Jefferson Steel, who arrives in England expecting to play the role of King Lear at Stratford-on-Avon, only to find out that his agent has booked him to play with an amateur company in the Suffolk village of Stratford St John. What follows is a colourful (language is quite strong throughout) and at times emotional look at how the Hollywood actor’s demands are compromised on the way to possibly finding his inner Lear and respect as a proper actor. A film version was made starring Burt Reynolds, Emma Thompson and Derek Jacobi, amongst others.

As usual, the casting and directing of this talented Maskers group is second to none and each performer rose to the challenges of the script, including ample samples of the Shakespeare play itself. Diction and pace were crisp throughout.

Maria Head as Mary, a wonderfully star struck but passionate participant in ‘am dram’, gave a terrific speech about what it is to take part in such theatricals. Phillip De Grouchy perfectly portrayed the pompous Nigel, whose resentment to Jefferson getting the lead role was apparent in every scene. His theatrical movements and genuine sense of hurt at not being able to fulfil his dream were very funny and surprisingly moving, too. He fully embodied the content of Mary’s speech as to the devotion to the craft forever able to walk into the part he felt was rightfully his.

As Jefferson’s feisty daughter Jessica, a spirited Molly McDade was natural and convincing in her portrayal of the only person who knew the real Jefferson. Her American accent was very well maintained and spoken; the scene with her father Jefferson reciting the Cordelia speech was quite brilliant. Corporate sponsor Lauren was portrayed by Maria McDade who showed her character’s different ‘skills’ very well, her misinterpreted physiotherapy scene was most amusing and well thought out, giving it just the right side of humour without being over played.

The down to earth character of Dennis, the odd job man who cast himself as Jefferson’s entourage as well as Gloucester, was played to great effect by Adam Taussik. His delivery was naturally genuine and his suggestions for portraying the scene where Gloucester’s eyes are gouged out were very funny, at one point balancing the proposed eyes on a fork being both grotesque and outrageous.

There was a very strong performance as Dorothy by Jan Spiers, the lynch pin of the Stratford players, the director and driver, as well as playing ‘The Fool’. A very natural warmth and passion showed through beautifully, combined with an excellent rapport with Johnny Carrington as Jefferson, who commanded the stage from the moment he entered. His accent and stage presence were very strong, showing great contrast in the character from an arrogance of the Hollywood superstar to the tenderness of a misunderstood father; his delivery of King Lear’s most well known speech was very powerful, the audience reaction being such that I am sure a pin could have been heard to drop.

With good use made of the limited performance space in order to portray the large number of different scenes, director Hazel Burrows should be very pleased. Her attention to detail in costume and set, choreography of movement of action and set props, use of excellent lighting by Tony Lawther and associated music throughout, be it interval or change of scene, all added to the professionalism of the performance. The setting of Shakespeare’s verses to music by Ruth Kibble were particularly effecting and added to the texture of the play.

Congratulations to everyone for a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment. Those who have tickets are in for a treat. I understand it is almost sold out but check the box office for possible returns as this is good stuff!

- David Putley


Hollywood royalty takes on the Bard with comedic consequences!

Perfect Casting?

Jefferson Steele is a fading A-list Hollywood hero who needs a boost to his career. His agent saves the day by finding the perfect role for him as Shakespeare’s King Lear at Stratford. On arrival in the UK he finds that instead of performing at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon he's booked to appear in sleepy Stratford St. John in Suffolk miles away from anywhere, with a bunch of enthusiastic am-dram thespians desperate to save their theatre from property developers.

Full of twists and turns, Hislop and Newman's clever writing includes plenty of comedic moments. You will easily recognise some of the wonderful types that Dorothy, the director of the Stratford Players, has in her cast. These include bitter solicitor Nigel, leading light of the group who expected to play Lear and Mary, playing the Fool, who idolises Jefferson and is only too thrilled to welcome him into her B&B!

Director & Cast

The Director of this production is Hazel Burrows
Hazel has been a Masker for many years, acting, directing, set painting and supporting. Her most recent directing credits include Sitting Pretty, Ten Times Table and co-directing An Italian Straw Hat. Her most memorable acting roles were in Our Lady of Sligo, Beauty Queen of Leenane and Ring Around the Moon. Hazel worked as a teacher and a commercial artist, producing exquisite paintings on silk.

Lauren Bell is played by Marie McDade
Marie has been a Masker since 2011 and has appeared in a wide range of productions at the Studio, the Nuffield Theatre and outdoors at Hamptworth. This time last year she was Granny Weatherwax in Wyrd Sisters - an aged crone - so is looking forward to being the polar opposite in this show as a blonde trophy wife!

Jessica Steele is played by Molly McDade
Having appeared in several shows for both the Nuffield Youth Theatre and previous Maskers’ productions, this will be Molly's second outing as an American since her first Maskers’ show, Our Town, in 2014, and her first major part since appearing as Tabaqui the Jackal in The Jungle Book in 2015. Jessica Steele is a very different role to the ones she has played before but she is definitely looking forward to the challenge.

Nigel Dewbury is played by Philip de Grouchy
This character is described as 'the classic am-dram performer, pompous, stuck-up and self-regarding. He believes he is the star of the show and should play all the leading roles’. Some small-minded and jealous rivals have declared that Philip has been type-cast in this role; he would like to remind them that the greatest challenge any actor can confront and triumphantly overcome is playing himself!

Dorothy Nettle is played by Jan Spiers
This is Jan’s third play with Hazel as director and she is thrilled to be working with her again. Ladies’ Day and Sitting Pretty were our last comedies and A Bunch of Amateurs is proving to be just as much fun! Other plays Jan has appeared in include Humble Boy, An Ideal Husband, 'Allo Allo', Stepping Out, Quartet, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds, and, after a short break, she is looking forward to playing Dorothy in our cosy, quirky Maskers Theatre!

Mary Plunkett is played by Maria Head
Maria has been a member of Maskers for some time and has played a wide variety of roles including Goneril in King Lear at the Nuffield Theatre. She is delighted to play Mary in A Bunch of Amateurs, who starts the play as Goneril and ends it as Reagan. As they both die at the end of King Lear, it’s all the same really! So wonderful to be in such a great comedy. What a reprieve from B*****

Jefferson Steel is played by John Carrington
Johnny made his stage debut at the tender age of ten... as the back end of a donkey in the school nativity! Promotion soon followed, however, because a year later he was making his Maskers debut at the Nuffield as a paperboy in Oh What a Lovely War. Having parents who were founding members meant he was always around the theatre and he started appearing with the Maskers Youth Theatre whilst at college.
Johnny has been in numerous shows both in traditional venues and outdoors, but three of his favourites have been The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask (D'Artagnan) and The Wind in the Willows (Toad). He also began directing with the Maskers with the tribute play to the Spitfire, Mitchell's Wings, in 2011(which he also wrote). His last attempt at an accent was as the Irish business man, Finbar, in The Weir.

Denis Dobbins is played by Adam Taussik
Since joining Maskers 15 years ago, Adam has played a few amateur actors, notably Flute, the bellows-mender, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in a shocking blue muslin dress. For this show, Adam will also be channelling the spirit of Lear's world, where he played many parts in 2007, from the King of France to the servant who blinds - SPOILERS...

Reporters are played by Carolyn & Huw Thomas, Ralph Baggs, Martin Caveney

Carolyn and Huw are new Maskers, having moved to Southampton a few months ago, and so this is their first show. They say it’s been great fun and very interesting to see the production come together.

Originally from Leatherhead, A Bunch of Amateurs is Ralph’s first play with Maskers. He has been having a huge amount of fun with this incredibly talented and wonderfully funny team. Ralph has little experience in the theatre; however, he has been a part of 'action sports' movies, one of which is on Netflix.

Martin has enjoyed being a member of the Maskers for 27 years, being involved in a wide cross section of plays and having the opportunity to act in leading roles as well as smaller ones. He has also been involved in backstage production with lighting, sound, and props. Martin has made friends for life through the Maskers and is looking forward to sharing this production with a truly professional bunch of amateurs.

Creative Team

Production Manager
Jill Desborough
Musical Director
Ruth Kibble
King Lear Consultant
Ken Hann
Stage Manager
Kathryn Salmon
Set Design & Painting
Hazel Burrows & John  Hamon
Set Construction
Ken Hann, Graham Buchanan, John Hamon
Lighting Designer
Tony Lawther
Lighting Operator
Tony Lawther & Kathryn Salmon
Sound Designer
Jamie McCarthy
Sound Operator
David Cowley
Wardrobe Manager
Sheana Carrington
Costumes
SJ Wareham
Properties & Furniture
Alison Tebbutt
Rehearsal Prompt
Christine Baker

Ticket Information

Tickets £11

No concessions

Downloads


Programme
Available after the performance

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy;   Lighting Consultant:- Clive Weeks;   Sound Consultant:- Jamie McCarthy;   Marketing Director:- Peter Court;   Marketing Team:- Sarah Russell, Angela Stansbridge, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney, Paul Baker;   Front of House Manager:- Chris Baker;   Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photography:- Clive Weeks;   Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney
 
 
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Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
Shirley
Southampton
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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