Aldermaston Players

Theatre and entertainment for Aldermaston

NATIONAL OPERATIC AND DRAMATIC ASSOCIATION
LONDON REGION

Society            ;           Aldermaston Players
Production     ;           "A LAUGHING MATTER"
Date                 ;           Friday 13th July 2012
Venue              ;           The Barn Theatre, Meadow Brook, Frouds Lane, Aldermaston
Report by        ;           Henry Hawes - NODA Representative - Area 13

On Friday 13th July 2012, I was pleased to be invited to Aldermaston Players open air production of "A Laughing Matter" by April de Angelis presented in a permanent, purpose built stage, within the grounds of the farmhouse. After the torrential rain on the previous evening I was somewhat concerned on what I would find at the venue, particularly as the date was 'Friday 13th', but my fears were groundless as on arrival I was guided and assisted to park in a muddy field by society members, and the audience had been well catered for with seating under an open sided marquee, equipped with a Bar, with a facility to enjoy your own picnic and a plus factor in that it did not rain during the whole of the evening! This Restoration Comedy revolved around the life and times of the actor and playwright David Garrick and his relationship with the author and poet, Samual Johnson, with flashbacks to the young Garrick. This was a most ambitious project by this society, gallantly performed under some atrocious conditions, but on the night of my visit, it presented a superb evenings entertainment. A true Restoration Comedy.

Graham Jerome                 DAVID GARRICK & OLD MAN)
Shelley Worboys                EVA GARRICK
Nigel Wilson                        SAMUEL JOHNSON
Tom Shorrock                    OLIVER GOLDSMITH & DUKE OF KINGSTON
Christopher Boott              JAMES BOSWELL & THEOPHILUS O'RYAN & Mr LARPENT
Chris Goodchild                  SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS & CEDRIC BOUNCE
James Burton Stewart     EDMUND BURKE &
Andrew Dutton                    SAM CAUTHERLEY)
Cath Hannon                        HANNAH MORE & MARGARET 'PEG' WOLFINGTON
Ian Beavon                           BARRY SPRANGER & MASTER BARRY
Sherrie Carslake                LAVINIA BARRY
Eva Stone                             SUSANNA CIBBER
Chris Faulkner                    CHARLES MACKLIN
Tricia Goodchild                 LADY KINGSTON
Tom Girling                          REVEREND RICHARD CUMBERLAND
Sean Faulkner                    YOUNG GARRICK
Hils Latimer                         Mrs BUTLER
Kerry Woodley                    BETTY FLINT

This cast of 19 members who played a total of 26 characters with doubling and trebling by some of them, presented a first-class Restoration Comedy and when one considers that this was the first night and with the previous atrocious weather conditions, it was quite exceptional. I have combined all members of the cast together as it would be unfair to single out individual members as this was a real team performance. Every member played their own individual characters with them all having the necessary impact.  Movement about the stage area was confident, particularly in view of the fact that this was the first time you had performed on this stage. This was a very wordy play but at no time did the pace drop an essential item in a comedy of this nature. I was also impressed with the diction and projection of the voices as I could hear the words, no easy task in the open air - Congratulations to you all on a fine performence

 

Chris Boott - (DIRECTOR) - To present this play, particularly in view of the atrocious weather, must have been an enormous challenge, but one which you managed to pull off. This was a large cast who had been well characterised in all 26 roles. Staging had been well devised and even with the full cast on stage it did not appear congested. The whole performance had pace with well picked up cues even with a number of prompts which were so well covered that I doubt if the audience noticed.- Congratulations you gave us an enjoyable evenings entertainment.

 

Wardrobe Team - This Wardrobe Team had worked wonders in sourcing the myriad of costumes required, either making them themselves or sourcing from other societies. The attention to detail was excellent ensuring the cast appeared properly dressed for the right period. This must have been a monumental task and bodes well for this young society.

 

Wigs and Make-up - Wigs appeared well dressed and in character for the times. Make-up had been well formulated and applied, looking good both in daylight and under the lights.

Set Design, Construction and Decor - This multi-purpose set design was ideal for this particular production, making it easy for the stage crew to make the necessary scene changes swiftly. It's construction looked solid with good decor throughout.

Lighting Design and Control - It is not easy to light an outdoor production particularly during an evening performance as one has to balance the lighting with the diminishing daylight. This appeared an excellent lighting design which generated the necessary atmosphere in the various scenes, all of which was well controlled.

 

Sound - It would appear that no amplification was used during this performance and which showed great credit to the cast as most of the dialogue was heard with good projection . This was quite an achievement when one considers that it was an outdoor production and the space between the cast and the audience was quite considerable. I particularly liked the distant peacock who appeared to crow on cue!

Stage Manager and Crew - This appeared a well managed stage throughout the performance with swift scene changes.

Prompt - This unsung hero was called upon on the odd occassion with a prompt in this very wordy play. It was done so well that I am sure the audience had no idea a prompt had been used and which was well covered by the cast.

Programme - A neat programme of the right size, well laid out with interesting biographical notes of the main characters, together with a description of the period. It also contained an interesting historical tree of The Eighteenth Century and it was a joy not to see a programme inundated with adverts.

Front of House - Front of House staff were friendly, helpful and welcoming to their audience, looking resplendent in period costume, (complete with wellington boots!), and which helped to set the tone for what was to come..A special thanks to the front of house lady who guided me through the morass between audience and stage at the end of the performance so that I could present the 'Constance Power Trophy for the Society Most Worthy of Encouragement', an award that was richly deserved.

 

Many thanks for your invitaion to review your latest production. What a pity it was only for two performances as it deserved a longer run, particularly after all the obvious hardwork.

 

Henry

 

NODA Representative - London Region - Area 13