10 WEEKS TO GO
To be decided (TBC)
15 - 18 Feb 2017
Show: Over My Dead Body
Reviewer: John Chilvers
For their autumn production, Jubilee Players selected Derek Benfield’s light comedy, Over my Dead Body. Those with long memories may recall the writer as playing the character Walter Greenhalgh in Coronation Street in the 1960s but in his later life - he died in 2009 – he gained considerable success as a playwright and Over my Dead Body has become popular with both drama groups and audiences.
It’s easy to see why. For performers, there are six meaty roles which must be fun to play while, as an evening’s entertainment, the sharp dialogue and steadily developing plot provide the audience with both humour and intrigue. There are points where there is a slowing up of the incisive one-liners, which mark the opening section of the play but, by this time, the attention of the audience is absorbed in trying to make sense of the ‘guilty secret’ which underpins the story.
The central character – Gerald – hopes to spend the rest of his days alone with his memories following his wife's recent death but he reckons without her ‘forward planning’, which results in a series of unexpected arrivals of friends and relations to offer their unwelcome support.
All six members of the cast revelled in their roles. Neil Philips excelled as Gerald: perplexed, irritated but far too well-mannered to firmly tell his guests to leave. He tries but fails, most spectacularly when faced by his battle-axe sister-in-law, who brushes off the fact that she missed her sister’s funeral as she ‘got the date wrong’ but railroads Gerald into meekly accepting her intention to move in. This part was performed with aplomb by Cynthia Gosling in a She Who Must Be Obeyed style; few roles - other, perhaps, than Lady Bracknell – would be better suited to her considerable talents.
The four supporting roles effectively complemented the two main characters in fine performances: by: Rosalind Chamberlain as Gerald’s well-meaning daughter; Neil Sumser-Lupson as her inquisitive, but not particularly bright, husband; Sue Phillips as the perky old friend; Alice Skippings as the attractive young cleaning lady with designs on easing Gerald’s twilight years.
This was Paul Skippings’ first venture into the direction of a full-length play; he is to be congratulated. His experienced cast maintained a good pace throughout while still allowing the audience to enjoy the chuckle moments in another very entertaining evening at the Tithe Barn.
Show: Night Must Fall
Reviewer: J Chilvers
For their summer production, The Jubilee Players chose to revive Emlyn Williams’ 1930s psychological thriller ‘Night Must Fall’; it was a good choice.
It is an unusual thriller in that the outcome is anticipated in the Prologue when a stern voice-over – solemnly delivered by the Lord Chief Justice (Brian Lloyd) – confirms the death sentence for a heinous crime and, from an early stage in the piece, there is little doubt about ‘Who dunnit.’
Despite this, the tension is sustained through to the arrest of the murderer in the final scene by the interplay of the characters as they respond to events. For this to work effectively, each character must be played with great skill as they are drawn into a complex web of relationships which revolve around a cantankerous aunt, her frustrated niece and a sinister Welshman who has insinuated himself into their household. In different ways, all are manipulative but we are left in no doubt about who is really in control of the strings.
Cynthia Gosling (Mrs Bramson), Michelle Jay (Olivia Grayne) and Ray Tempesta (Dan) must be congratulated on their outstanding performances. The parts are meaty - of the kind that allows their full range of skills of voice, timing and movement to be employed – but, in the many extended scenes, all did full justice to their roles.
Moreover, for the play to ‘work’, it is equally important that the supporting roles are played with precision. As the main characters interweave, the pompous house guest (Paul Skippings), gossiping housekeeper (Sue Furness), scatty maid (Hannah Cunningham) and jolly district nurse (Sue Blackburn) not only provide a comic backdrop to the main plot but, through their reactions to the discovery of a dead body in the woods, bring the focus ever more closely on the oleaginous Dan, his past, his motives and his intentions.
The cast was completed by the persistent police inspector (Neil Phillips) whose repeated visits to the house draw concerned responses from all except Dan whose brazen self-belief begins to suggest a severely disordered personality. This is then further revealed in a powerful scene with Olivia in which he reveals that he is playing a role in which he is terrified by a "a pair of eyes staring at me”; the eyes are his own. The deepening relationship between the couple adds a further twist to the taut plot.
Libby Henshaw’s direction ensured subtle changes of pace, which are essential for events to unravel in a way that raises the tension to an ever higher level but when Dan commits his second murder, no one is surprised. Throughout, the audience ‘know’ what is going to happen and the quiet arrest of Dan comes as a relief to all, not least to Dan himself.
It is a demanding play to perform; many thanks to The Jubilee Players for a splendid evening’s entertainment.
Show: Humpty Dumpty
Some things have ‘Made in England’ written all over them! Blackpool Rock, Morris Dancers, Mary Berry, a steamin’ cup of English Breakfast tea…and, right up there with the best of British… Norfolk’s very own Jubilee Players!
The historical, 17th century Horstead Tithe Barn provides the perfect backdrop for this annual, light hearted thespian dose of old English pantomine’ King Charles 2nd could never have imagined that panto’s own dithering King Egbert (AKA Graham Brakenbury) would, some 400 years later, be mustering his troops, led by the larger than life Dame Trudy Frewty and her (rather dashing!) son Freddy Frewty to rescue the beautiful Princess Petal from the evil grasp of Witch Wellygogs! This years panto, Humpty Dumpty, provided a veritable smorgasbord (or should we say ‘afternoon tea’) of cheery songs, heroic endeavours and hilarious one liners!
Savouring every moment of her perfectly evil performance, Cynthia Gosling as Witch Wellygogs, was thwarted by the charismatic ‘principle boy’ Lorenzo, (the ever smiling, Abbie Chamberlin) who releases Humpty Dumpty himself from the cursed egg! 12 year old Elliot Tempesta as Humpty provided an energetic, infectiously optimistic and totally delightful performance that left us all in awe! What a genuine talent.
We did wonder how anyone could make ‘Humpty Dumpty’ last more than 5 minutes but The Jubilee Players really did put on a ‘smashingly’ good performance. Great costumes, egg-cellent lighting and pitch perfect music (Move over Ed Sherran, make way for Ed Osborne!). The whole cast appeared to be enjoying themselves in this well directed production. Well done to all involved! Looking forward to next year already!
Show: New Direction
Reviewer: Kevin and Sandra Stone
Publication: Just Wroxham & Coltishall Magazine
New Direction, a selection of three, one-act plays by the Jubilee Players, was an opportunity for three people to take on the task of directing a play for the first time, a bold move.
As the evening developed and each play unfolded it was obvious that the cast had another success to add to their long list. The three plays were all different although they were all observations of human nature. The set needed only small alterations for each play.
The first play concerned three women who met in a small hotel and through general conversation found that their lives had been centred on the same man. What Brutes Men Are showed that they had all been manipulated, Janet (Rosalind Chamberlin) as the long-suffering first wife, discarded in favour of Carol (Sue Brooks), the new love interest and Linda (Libby Henshaw), the mother of Godfrey. The three women finally close ranks against the man.
The second play, Say Something Happened. took place in the home of an elderly couple. They are visited by a young and enthusiastic, eager to do everything correctly by the book, social work student, who, it materialises, has little more to offer than a card to be placed in their window with the word HELP should they be in trouble.
The third and last play What's for Pudding had the audience roaring with laughter, observing the antics of two couples. Jack (Ray Tempesta) and Mary (Hannah Brodie) who join Maureen (Michelle Jay) and Ted (Neil Sumser-Lupson) in their living room. This modern quartet are joined by ageing neighbour Dennis (Neil Phillips), who doesn't help with aggravation between the two couples.
All credit goes to Sue Brooks who stepped into the role of Carol in What Brutes Men Are, only a few days before the plays were performed. She created a creditable performance.
A very interesting evening and a joy to watch. Well done Jubilee Players.