National Operatic & Dramatic Association – London Region
Society : Aldermaston Players
Production : Come On, Jeeves
Date : Friday 14th February 2020
Venue : Parish Hall – Aldermaston
Report by : Jeanette Maskell
This was Aldermaston Players annual dinner and theatre. These evenings are extremely popular and normally well attended. However, whether it was because it was Valentines day or because it was the first night, I don’t know but it was not as large an audience as usual.
The meal overseen by executive chef Jean Chapman was first rate; consisting of a chicken first course supplied by Suzie and Jane catering a delightful vanilla cheesecake followed by cheese and biscuits accompanied by coffee and chocolates. Well done team!
The play had all the ingredients for the making of a delightfully comical evenings’ entertainment. There was a great well written script and some excellent characters. Unfortunately, on the evening of my visit it really wasn’t their night! There were so many prompts it became embarrassingly uncomfortable and entrances were slow meaning there were cast members left on stage waiting for the action to continue.
Hopefully this was down to first night nerves and the rest of the performances went swimmingly.
Nigel Antell – (Lord Carmoyle) – The timbre of this actor’s voice really suited the accent and enhanced his dialogue no end. He had a great rapport with Monica and I so enjoyed the way he distanced himself from the proceedings.
Tricia Goodchild – (Lady Carmoyle) – Excellent dialogue delivery and animated visuals were the making of this actress’ performance. Her reactions to the action were spontaneous and effective and her relationship with Rory natural. I liked the way she kept an eye on Bill and made it her business to find out what was going on.
Karen Dignan – (Jill Wyvern) – I found this actress’ dialogue rather whiney and grating, and the accent at the start rather too affected. However, as the performance progressed this did become more natural. She had a good rapport with Bill and they worked well together.
Chris Faulkner – (Bill Earl of Towcester) – This actor had a nightmare, needing numerous prompts which slowed the action and impacted on his comedic timing. Dialogue and visuals when things were going well were spirited and energetic and his interaction with Jeeves and Jill was first rate.
Nigel Wilson – (Jeeves Bill’s Butler) – I really enjoyed this actor’s performance. He was every bit the wise worldly confidential valet; offering brilliant advice and coming up with improbable scheming plans in order to save Bill! His stance and movement were ideal; complemented by spirited dialogue, vivid facial expressions and intuitive interaction.
Kim Antell – (Ellen Bill’s Housemaid) – This cameo role was skilfully portrayed by this young lady. She had well-articulated dialogue and expressive visuals, which enhanced her performance famously.
Kerry Thomas – (Mrs Spottsworth) – As the wealthy American looking to purchase Towcester Abbey this actress gave a great performance. Dialogue was dynamic with a well-maintained American accent and visuals were lively and animated. Her relationship with Captain Bigger was coy and coquettish which was quite becoming. I so enjoyed her scene with Bill as he tried to relieve her of her necklace,
Derek Spears – (Captain Biggar) – This actor was the saviour of this piece, giving a positive confident and assertive performance. His dialogue delivery was superb, clear audible and well intoned. I really enjoyed his “Big White Hunter” treatment of Bill and the excellent rapport he had with Mrs Spottsworth.
Chris Goodchild – (Colonel Blagden) – This cameo role was well portrayed by this actor. His dialogue delivery was clear audible and well intoned. He slotted seamlessly into the action and made his responses appear effortless.
Chris Boott – (Director) – I really felt for this director. He must have been tearing his hair out!
When you have worked so hard to bring the characters to life and create a fun piece of theatre it must be heart breaking to see your cast lose the plot like that. He had developed interesting characters and given them good direction, insisting on the use of BBC English. Staging was adequate; though with a limited acting area there was quite a bit of masking, which detracted from the action. There were some excellent moments during the performance; Bill and Jeeves’ trying to get the ticket from Captain Biggar, Bill trying to get the necklace from Mrs Spottsworth and the curtain moment to name but a few. These worked really well and had been expertly directed.
Sandra Faulkner – (Stage Manager) – With a static set this SM had very little to do. She made certain that the prosceniums were pulled at the right time and kept the wings clear to enable the cast easy access for their entrances and exits. I could see that it was very tight behind that back wall so all credit to her for helping to keep the action moving.
Douglas Falkner – (Lighting/Sound) – This technician did a grand job in cuing lighting and sound effect. The lighting was warm and full on creating much needed depth and atmosphere to the proceedings. It would have been nice to have seen some lighting off stage behind the two doors; but not vital. Sound effects were for the most part perfect for their use; however, the telephone was a little odd! What a shame you were unable to rig up the phone to actually ring.
Ange Boott/Clare Bruton – (Wardrobe) – Costumes were uniform to the chosen period and suited the characters entirely. I was particularly impressed with Mrs Spottsworths’ and Jeeves looked resplendent in his butler outfit and an absolute hoot as Lady Agatha.
Louise Marshall – (Make-up/Wigs) – Makeup had been well applied on all cast members and the women’s makeup was appropriate to the era concentrating on highlighting lips and eyes. The wigs used for the three female characters were absolutely right and suited their personalities perfectly.
Chris Chapman/Douglas Faulkner/Sandra Faulkner/Dave Hard/Adrian Thomas – (Set Construction) – This set worked really well giving the impression of past affluence but now looking shabby and a little decrepit. It had been well built with two practical doors and an archway covered with a curtain; which was vital to the plot.
Cynthia Newman/Natalie Brown/Val Hall/Cathy Jones/Gill Tomlins – (Front of House) – This team is always so friendly and ready to meet and greet at the drop of a hat. Once again, they were there as soon as I entered the hall and it was great to have a catch up. Thank you for looking after me so well.
Jeanette Maskell – NODA Representative – London Region – Area 13