For 28 years, Hexagon Theatre Company have been performing a broad selection of plays; from a charming Educating Rita to a lively Brassed Off – to an audience that filled the Subscription Rooms night after night – and a harrowing Antigone. And although we share the same town, a love of theatre and the occasional actor, we’ve never yet shared a stage. So we’re delighted that Hexagon have chosen the Cotswold Playhouse to perform one of their most controversial – and undoubtedly memorable – productions yet.
Meet Una – A young woman with a seemingly unremarkable childhood, breezing through life like a typical twenty-something.
Meet Ray – A confident, successful, middle-aged man, living an apparently ordinary life with nothing to hide.
But 15 years ago, they made national headlines, parted and assumed they’d never see each other again. Now, Una’s memories are stirred by a photograph….
David Harrower’s award-winning play, Blackbird, explores how two people’s lives have been shaped by the intriguing, and at times disturbing, events of their past.
The director, Martin Stockwell explained his choice:
“I saw Blackbird performed at Malvern Theatre on its first professional tour. I was mesmerised. It held my attention from start to finish, and it immediately went on my wish list of plays for Hexagon to do. David Harrower’s dialogue is vibrant and true to life. I think this is a stunning play. You may find the story-line uncomfortable, but I hope you will find the play absorbing and that you’ll have plenty to talk about in the bar and on the way home.”
Given the nature of the storyline and language, this play is not suitable for children.
Performances: Thursday 25th, Friday 26th and Saturday 27th April at 7.30pm. Online bookings: www.cotswoldplayhouse.co.uk or phone bookings: 0844 8700 887.
Guess who was once told that she had a big personality, but an incurable attitude problem?
No doubt any number of us could admit to a touch of feistiness from time to time, but on this occasion, it was Sally Lewis, the director of our comedy-danceathon, Stepping Out and her misbehaving left leg. All her dreams of becoming a Tokyo Bluebell Girl fell apart when the casting director scoffed that her “attitude” didn’t so much get men’s hearts racing, as send their imaginations off in a different direction altogether. “Your ATTITUDE,” barked the director, “looks like a labrador peeing up against a tree!” So she dropped ballet and burlesque, took up tap dancing and for the last forty-odd years, has been hoofing, stomping and shuffling, winning awards, directing and showing others how it’s done. With attitude, naturally.
Sally’s going to be teaching beginners and reminding rusty tappers how to execute the perfect pick up, hop, step, slide and cramp roll prior to auditions for Stepping Out on 30th June and 2nd July. The show itself takes place in October.
As long as you’ve got rhythm, a pair of firm, flat shoes (or tap shoes if you have them) and comfortable clothing, you’re very welcome to join Sally at her Sunday morning dance workshops on 14th & 28th April and 12th and 26th May. Each session starts at 10.30am and lasts for just under an hour. You don’t need to be a member to join in – if you want to come along and try us out first, it’s a great way of getting to know people and finding out what it feels like to be on stage. We’re rather hoping that along with a clutch of new ladies, we can encourage some young or youngish men to come and join us. If you’re reading this and wondering if this could be your chance to learn a few slinky moves, or if you know someone who might be tempted, grab your shoes and join us –you’ve nothing to lose.
If you’d rather mingle with a crowd, perhaps our new members’ evening might be a slightly less exhausting, but no less entertaining way to get to know some of our members and find out what’s in the pipeline over the coming months.
Last year, Patrick Howell sailed off to West Africa to escape another Stroud winter and found himself in the ideal climate to pen the first few chapters of A History of the Cotswold Players. He’ll be letting you in on the best bits, revealing some surprising stories and offering you a few of his tips to tackle writer’s block.
The directors of our forthcoming shows; Joy Rosselli (Sweet Charity), Rob Mauler (Two & Eight), Sally Lewis (Stepping Out) and Jonathan Vickers (The Caucasian Chalk Circle) will tell you everything you might want to know about getting involved with their productions. Or you can nip off to the bar instead.
We’d be delighted if you’d join us for our members’ evening at 7.30pm on Monday 15th April.
Forget Jeremy Kyle – if you want to experience the raw emotions of a self-loathing family in turmoil, spitting, scheming and cheating their way through a birthday celebration, book yourself ringside seats to see Tennessee Williams’ steamy tale of lies and deceit, mendacity and suppressed sexuality.
It’s Big Daddy’s birthday and he’s just had the all-clear from the hospital. Or so he thinks. His son Brick refuses to sleep with his beautiful wife Maggie, who is desperate for a child. Gooper and his conniving wife Mae are hell-bent on getting their hands on Big Daddy’s fortune. They’ve already got five “no-neck monsters” and there’s another on the way. And all the time, lurking in the background to the drama, is Brick’s friend Skipper. Why did he die and what exactly was his relationship with Brick?
“It’s a beautifully written play and captures the southern idiom in a way that is intensely poetic,” commented Director Rob Penman.
Michelle Clare-Hudson, a Rose Bowl award-winning actress makes her first appearance at the Playhouse, playing Cat, a role made famous by Elizabeth Taylor. With heavyweights Pete Cluer as Big Daddy, Phil Domaille as Brick, plus exceptionally strong performances from Vicky Tate, Dave Kilmister and Claire Howard, it’s sure to be a compelling evening.
Got 2 minutes and 17 seconds to spare? Here’s the preview.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: 12th – 16th March at 7.30pm
Tickets can be booked online now at cotswoldplayhouse.co.uk/tickets or by calling 0844 8700 887.
- Now booking….
If you’ve got the local theatre bug, perhaps you’d like to catch some of these events – details courtesy of our friends at The Gloucestershire Theatre Association:
19th – 23rd February: Phoenix Players present Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare at the Kings Theatre, Gloucester. Tickets £8 (£7 for concessions and £5 for students) from 01452 522795 or from Gloucester Tourist Information Centre.
28th February – 2nd March: May Hill Players present Bunkered by Lynn Brittney at May Hill Village hall at 7.30. Special ‘candlelit’ performance on Friday 28th, with limited seating and light supper, for £10. Saturday and Sunday tickets £7. All tickets from 01452 830081 /830201.
7th March: Wotton-under-Edge Dramatic Society invites interested performers to join them for a social sing-along at 7.30 pm at the Morley Green Room, Clarence Road, Wotton, in advance of casting for their Old Time Music Hall, to be staged in October. More details from Mary Downs 01453 842936.
12th – 16th March: Cotswold Players present Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams at the Cotswold Playhouse, Stroud, at 7.30. Tickets £12 from 0844 8700 887 or http://cotswoldplayhouse.ticketsource.co.uk/events
12th – 16th March: St. John’s Players present A Piece of Cake, a comedy by Lucy Bennett, at St. John’s Hall, St. John’s Avenue, Churchdown at 7.30pm. Tickets £8.00 (concessions £7.00) from 01452 857371.
20th – 23rd March at 7.30 pm: Wotton-under-Edge Dramatic Society presents two one-act plays at Wotton Town Hall: Domby-dom by Nick Warburton and The Crying Dame, by tlc Creative. Tickets £6 (including refreshments) from 19th February from the Cotswold Book Room, Long St, 01453 843140 during shopping hours. Details from www.wottondrama.co.uk.
3rd – 6th April: Dazzle at the Movies: Musical Theatre Workshop for ages 8+. Four days of dancing and singing, at The Market House in Minchinhampton. On 3 and 4 April, 12 – 5pm; on 5 and 6 April, 10 – 5 pm. Performance at 5pm on Saturday 6 April for family and friends. £85 per child (discount for siblings). Booking forms from www.dazzleworkshops.co.uk or 07765017787 / 01453 886444.
9th April at 7.30pm: Wotton-under-Edge Dramatic Society Directors’ Workshop, hosted by Madge Organ. Potential directors who wish to learn from one of the county’s doyennes of drama are welcome at the Morley Green Room, Clarence Road, Wotton. Details from Ann Falcon-Uff 01453 843789.
23rd – 27th April: Manor Players of Tewkesbury present Calendar Girls at the George Watson Hall in Tewkesbury at 7.30pm plus 2pm on Saturday. Tickets £9.00 from The Orange Pig, High St Tewkesbury or 07875336475.
15th – 16th June: Gloucester Medieval Mystery Play Festival, in the Cathedral, in the streets and parks. Box office: www.gloucester.gov.uk/Freetime/Guildhall/listings/misc/MysteryPlay.aspx.
In other news….we’re finally on Twitter. Follow us @CotsPlayhouse for news of all things dramatical & theatrical.
Sadly this weekend, it’s snow go for our adorable musical, Honk!
But the good news is that Tracy Spiers, herself a mother to five ducklings watched two of her brood in the show last week. Here’s what she had to say:
Sparkling wit, funny adorable characters, enchanting score and an infectious chemistry among cast members is the winning combination ensuring Cotswold Players’ first performance of 2013 is a honking success.
Entertainment and endearment are hatched together in a tight and well-directed plot about a mother’s unconditional love, growing up in an often harsh world, the struggle for identity and need to embrace our own and one another’s’ differences.
HONK! a musical comedy based on Hans Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling is for everyone. Colour, humour, an abundance of wonderful one-liners, fantastic use of lighting and shadow-play, vibrant costume with references to sixties and seventies style with platform-shoed swans, bright pink booted geese and Abba-style frogs, make it a highly enjoyable show for both young and old.
I laugh out loud so many times, I can’t decide which part makes me chuckle the most. It’s a tight call between the hilarious goggle-eyed frog scene led by Euan Greig and the domestic chicken and cat act where raucous Tom-cat-Tango (between well-sung Cat, Keir Kille and flirtatious Queenie, Terry Clifford) is the order of the day. But delivery of line and natural fluidity of playful banter, amusing gestures and dance throughout, ensures the show carries a constant flow of humour which brings movement to the whole production.
Palatable songs are well performed with fine singing from all – especially Jenny Nixon, Keir Kille and Lana Robinson. Mention must also be given to the orchestra’s powerful performance under the capable music directorship of Graham Gill.
The cast directed by Oliver Lee – many of them multi-tasking as chickens, geese, turkey, frogs and felines – feels huge. In fact one can be forgiven in thinking there’s a whole farmyard on stage when it is really eight adults and four children, each showing versatility and zest for whatever part they play.
Feathers are ruffled and beaks put out of joint as Ugly, complete with his awkwardness and discomfort (captured so well by Joel Gallagher), breaks out of his rather large shell. We feel his rejection and later confusion as he learns who not to trust and why Christmas isn’t so special for those with parson’s noses. His journey to find his mother takes him into a military-operated wild goose chase, a Hell’s kitchen, farmer’s net and pond where he rescues a trapped Swan – his future wife. Meanwhile his mother Ida (a strong performance from Janette Deacon) leaves her other four offspring with an apron-clad Drake-with-attitude (Jeremy Keck) facing hours of domesticity, to hunt for her lost son.
Of course there are moments in a mother’s life when she has to let go and watch her offspring fly a little higher to enable them to grow. As a mother duck to five ducklings I realise I am a real-life Ida, waddling ahead with my quintet following in line. When two of your brood appear on stage as someone else’s daughters, it is a surreal moment. Yet Naomi (Downy) and Emily (Fluff) Spiers’ performances along with their “brothers,” Tom Gill (Beaky) and Sebastian Newton (Billy) are so captivating, delivering lines and facial expressions with such confidence and panache, they turn from offspring into true actors, adding their own delightful significance to a fun-packed evening. All four make fabulous froglets too.
Talking about motherhood, Ida is asked, “Why do we put ourselves through it?” Why indeed? Because despite the moans, whines, sibling rivalry, bickering, squabbling or pecking, the “joys of motherhood” and little perks to the job make it all worthwhile, is Ida’s reply. Any mother will echo that.
HONK! is sheer entertainment which comes with a compassionate plea to embrace and celebrate one anothers’ differences. In fact in an egg shell, it’s everything it is quacked up to be.
There are a few tickets left for next week – why not let us warm you up on a chilly January evening? But you’ll need to be quick as they’re selling fast.
For as little as 25p a week, your friends could wake each morning, stroll into their kitchen, bathroom, shed or office and be instantly cheered by the sight of one of the delightful calendar girls, demurely, defiantly and delectably posing for our 2013 charity calendar. With proceeds of the sale going to Stroud Hospital’s League of Friends, you’ll be helping to put a smile on more than one face.
If you can’t bear to wrap up another awkward-shaped gift or elbow your way round the shops, unsuccessfully tuning out Last Christmas and trying to avoid getting your eye hooked out by a wayward umbrella, why not stay at home, buy a theatre voucher and let your friends experience a real, live, seat-of-the-pants theatrical performance? Next year, we’ve got more touring companies at the playhouse than ever before, plus of course our very own shows, so there’s plenty to choose from. Better still, vouchers last for a year, so you can’t go wrong – they’ve got ages to decide what they want to see and when they want to see it.
And if you’re really switched on and you’ve got a friend who just needs a gentle shove in the direction of the stage to make their new year’s resolution a reality, how’s this for a neat suggestion? Are they yearning to be learning to step-ball-shuffle? Keen to get to know their inner clown? Wondering how to tell their DSL from their USR? Captivated by the craft of set building, lighting fx, costume design, props hunting or bar propping? Buy them an annual membership and they’ll love you forever….or get off the sofa and out from under your feet from time to time.
Have a happy Christmas, a wonderful new year and thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting us.
When poor Ugly the Duckling heard that Santa was going to be visiting the beautiful birds at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, he couldn’t miss the opportunity to fly in and ask him to make his Christmas wish come true.
Ugly (also known as Joel Gallagher), his friend the Drake (Jeremy Keck) and little birds Fluff and Downy (Emily & Naomi Spiers) plan to get to Slimbridge at around midday on Saturday 8th December and mingle with the birds and other visitors. All dressed up in their fine feathers, they’ll be thrilled if you’d take their picture and have a chat about their lovely musical story, Honk! which they’ll be performing at the Playhouse in January.
Gather round Swan Lake and make sure that Ugly and his friends don’t pinch all the food before their feathered friends get their lunch!
Tickets to the show, priced at £13 for adults and £7 for children are available online at www.cotswoldplayhouse.ticketsource.co.uk or by calling 0844 870 887.
As Movember comes to an end and Stroud no longer looks like it’s under attack by an invasion of the Village People, it’s a good time to think about another sort of charity: Charity Hope Valentine – Sweet Charity – who, despite a name that should encourage the fates to be generous, doesn’t really get an easy ride out of life.
Set in 1960’s New York, it’s a high-energy show with some great chorus numbers. We challenge you not to start clicking your heels to The Rhythm of Life or to avoid the urge to belt out If They Could See Me Now…and then of course there’s a great scene in the Fandango Ballroom when the hostess dancers tempt the audience with the terrifically gutsy Hey Big Spender routine.
We’re performing Sweet Charity in June next year and auditions for the show take place on Sunday 2nd December between 10am – 4pm and on Monday 3rd December between 7.30pm and 9pm. If you can sing, dance and deliver a convincing American accent, we’d love to see you there!
If you need some advice from the professionals before you audition, here’s what Miriam Margolyes and friends have to say.
If this isn’t for you, maybe you’d like to meet some of the cast of Honk! when they fly into the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust to have a word with Santa at lunchtime on Saturday 8th December. Any idea what Ugly, the not-so-beautiful duckling might want for Christmas?
It was the first night of A Doll’s House last night and unbeknownst to the cast there were three adjudicators in the audience (crikey!) as well as great friend of the Playhouse, journalist Tracy Spiers.
If you can’t wait until next week to read her review in Stroud Life, here’s a sneaky preview…
It’s one of the masterpieces of 19th century theatre and caused shock-waves among Victorian theatre-goers for daring to suggest the need for women to rebel against what were considered sacred duties. Henrik’s Ibsen’s tense and complex play “A Doll’s House,” is not an easy one to act or indeed keep fresh in the 21st century. Yet the Cotswold Players as usual have achieved their ambition to deliver the tension, drama and uneasiness festering beneath the surface of what is an intriguing and masterfully-written script.
It’s not a comfortable production to watch or understand, but thanks to skilful and believable acting – particularly from Melanie Palmer, who plays the child-like, frivolous and yet heroic Nora Helmer; Tim Howard, the condescending can’t-cope-with-reality husband Torvald and Heidi Price as Nora’s school friend Kristina Lind, the play flows, carrying a strong undercurrent of suspense which engages the audience, leaving us itching to know more.
It’s a tale of integrity, honesty and sacrifice. The play shows a woman who having grown up feeling a doll-child, now realises she is a doll-wife, playing with her children as if they too were dolls, with no opinions of her own other than those imposed upon her by her father, husband and society. It’s about her realisation that she is trapped in a type of doll’s house and must leave to find herself, at the expense of marriage and motherhood.
Underneath the cheerful façade of domestic bliss, represented by Jane Ford’s stunning set design of festive reds and greens, are the festering blacks and menacing greys, mirrored in the ailing Dr. Rank’s diseased backbone. A great performance here from Lloyd Morgans, who portrays the doctor extremely well.
Ibsen’s characters are complex – irritating yet appealing; charming yet snobbish; generous yet selfish; weak yet strong; characteristics which are universal to human nature whatever the era – 19th century or today.
I must mention the adorable children Ivar and Emmy, played by Ewan and Lara McEvoy who deliver their lines clearly and well. Christine Smith, Mayble Pitt, Alistair Anderson and Patrick Howell all play their parts to make this a very moving, challenging, thought-provoking production.
It raises more questions than answers and those watching are left talking about the play for quite some time. Surely this is testimony to a play well delivered and performed.
A Doll’s House runs from Thursday, November 15th until Saturday, November 17th. Tickets are available online at ww.cotswoldplayhouse.co.uk/tickets or by calling 0844 8700 887.