National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Region
Society : Aldermaston Players
Production : Twists in the Tales
Date : Thursday 27th September 2018
Venue : Parish Hall – Aldermaston
Report by : Jeanette Maskell
What an enjoyable evening’s entertainment these three one act plays proved to be! The society is lucky to have such an extensive talented membership that they were able to perform all three with different casts.
The actors in this play had great teamwork which really came to the fore in their conversational dialogue. They made the whole performance bounce along superbly.
Paula Stenson – (Mrs Asquith) – This was a knockout performance! This young actress had the mannerisms and facial expressions of an elderly lady off to a T. Her dialogue was expressive articulate and thoughtful giving her character realism and authenticity. I loved the way she secretly swigged from her hip flask and drank all the sherry that had been poured for the other characters
Tricia Goodchild – (Mrs Wilson-Smythe) – Dignified authoritative and polished were the traits that made this flawless accomplished characterisation. Her dialogue visuals and movement were perfect; animated and energetic.
Kerry Thomas – (Catherine Bow) – This was a delightfully understated performance. Her natural ability to create a character really shone. Dialogue was clear and fluid absolutely right for the role. I really enjoyed the relationship she developed with Mrs Asquith; being caring and indulgent.
Chris Goodchild – (Mr Langton) – I so enjoyed this actor’s performance it was lively entertaining and full of fun. He had a natural ease of movement and slick spirited dialogue. The relationships he created with the other characters was quite sublime.
Nigel Wilson – (PC Cooper) – This was a nicely delineated characterisation. His dialogue was well delivered with good intonation and projection. I liked the frustration he displayed when the dialogue became side-tracked as the characters reminisced about the items that had been stolen; and the way he then brought them back to the matter in hand.
Gordon Wyard – (Mr Turner) – Although this was a cameo role it was nonetheless integral to the plot. He made the most of his time on stage delivering his dialogue with assurance and tenacity.
Kim Antell – (Director) – Kim had developed some fine characterisations and worked on the relationships therein. Her staging was first rate with good spacing and no upstaging. She achieved a good fluid pace which kept the play moving and the audience absorbed in the plot right till the final twist. The humour of the piece had been subtly brought out and had the audience laughing out loud.
This was a thoughtful play needing in depth characterisations. For the most part the actors achieved this; though there were times when the acting appeared a little stilted. Unfortunately their accents were inconsistent; and whilst it was a little irritating it did not impact on the overall performance
Mari Fleming – (Mary Higgins) – I liked this positive confident characterisation. She was natural and instinctive creating an excitable impulsive motherly figure. Dialogue was brisk and vivid with excellent diction and projection. Her relationship with Gerald was one of harassment and agitation and her rapport with John attentive and watchful. She had the last line delivering the final twist and this was superbly delivered.
Derek Spears – (Gerald Higgins) – At the start of the action I was uncertain as to whether I would like this actor’s performance; he appeared hesitant and unsure. However as the play progressed he settled into the character and gave a fine performance. His scene with Stella was intense and impassioned.
Darren Lock – (John Higgins) – This young man gave an enthusiastic and fiery performance capturing the essence of the character. His dialogue was well executed with the best accent of the evening and he created believable relationships with his parents. His rapport with Stella was considerate and affectionate.
Karen Dignan – (Stella) – The doting characterisation created by this actress was perfect for the role. Her dialogue was coyly simpering delivered with a petulant undertone. Crying on stage is one of the most difficult things to make look realistic and whilst this was not overdone it was not unfortunately particularly believable. This could have been achieved with the use of a handkerchief and wiping the eyes whilst making the shoulders and chest shudder uncontrollably.
Nigel Wilson – (Director) – Nigel had done a great job in developing the characters and ensuring dialogue was well delivered. He needs to work on staging. Remember it is not necessary for the actor to always deliver their dialogue face to face. I felt Mary could have delivered hers from the back of the stage where she was setting the table rather than walking forwards every time to speak to Gerald. Another area for development is fluidity of the plot. There were times when the action slowed and became stilted due to the movement of the characters. Once these minor points have been rectified Nigel will become a fine director.
MUM’S THE WORD
For me this was the most natural fluent and effortless of the three plays. The cast worked superbly well together with excellent relationships, a first rate understanding of the dialogue and outstanding comic timing.
Nigel Antell – (David Richards) – Once again this young man delivered an outstanding performance. His natural acting ability is terrific; he is always aware of his surroundings and the cast he is working with but also the audience to whom he is ultimately playing. Dialogue was dynamic and energetic with great projection. His relationship with Janet was brilliant! As a couple they worked fabulously well together. I loved their scheming with David being the one who was ready to kill off his mum so they could get their hands on her money in order to solve their financial problems. His change of mind was well defined and I so enjoyed the exchange of words between him and Janet during the dinner party.
Lesley Vought – (Janet Richards) – This was a sublime performance; character dialogue movement and visuals were absolutely flawless. Her relationship with David was super and their conversational dialogue tripped along fantastically. I liked her rapport with Margaret which was one of endurance and long suffering; this was well portrayed both vocally and visually.
Cynthia Newman – (Margaret Richards) – I was captivated by this easy going relaxed and effortless performance. Her character started out brusque and abrupt; however once she had moved in with David and Janet we saw her persona change becoming caring and thoughtful.
Chris Boott – (Simon Orchard) – What a fabulously extrovert characterisation this was! Dialogue was cheerful jaunty and spirited and his facial expressions bright and animated.
Kim Antell – (Sandra Orchard) – This was a vivacious bubbly performance; full of fun and humour. Dialogue was expressive and well intonated with visuals that were peppy and full of life
As a couple this pairing excelled. In their matching jumpers they played off one another brilliantly bringing the stage to life.
Kim Antell – (Director) – Kim really managed to capture the heart of this play bringing out the humour yet maintaining the drama. She had developed realistic and honest characters and relationships were believable and convincing. Staging worked particularly well with the actors moving effortlessly around the acting area. The piece had great pace and even when the tabs closed in order for cast to change and denote passing of time it felt right and proper. I enjoyed the music though couldn’t place it. I originally thought it was the theme to Maigret; then decided it wasn’t and had to give up!
Kim Antell – (Creative Director) – As overall creative director Kim showed outstanding understanding and knowledge of the three pieces and ensured they were delivered to the audience in the style and manner of the genre. Well done!
Ange Boott/Chris Boott/Cynthia Newman – (Co-Producers) – This trio clearly work well together having made sure everything flowed seamlessly from rehearsals to stage. They brought together a super technical team and ensured the creative team had everything they needed.
Bill Macdonald – (Stage Manager) – Having an interval between each play ensured this SM had time to change the set without inconveniencing the audience. During Mum’s the Word he made certain the tabs were pulled at exactly the right time.
Ange Boott – (Wardrobe) – With all three plays being set in the modern day this wardrobe mistress was able to dress the characters according to their true personality as well as their characters’. However she co-ordinated each play according to where they were set and the audience’s preconception! This was particularly apparent in Establishing Relations when the two men needed Manchester City football shirts and Mary appeared in her apron in keeping with idea of northern women.
Louise Marshall – (Makeup & Wigs) – This artist had done a grand job with makeup; it enhanced the actors’ features without being too heavy. Mrs Asquith’s makeup was particularly good; it made the actress look old without the lines and shadowing standing out. Wigs looked authentic and were well fitted.
Kim Antell/Chris Boott – (Set Design) – I liked this design which worked brilliantly for all three plays. There were just enough subtle differences to make you feel as though you had visited three different houses. Curtains pictures table clothes and throws made this possible. Furniture had been arranged in order to maximise floor space and give the cast the best working area.
Chris Boott/Chris Chapman/Douglas Faulkner/Bill Macdonald/Adrian Thomas – (Set Construction) – The set had been well constructed and painted. The operational French windows and practical interior doors added dimension to the acting area.
Chris Chapman/Douglas Faulkner – (Lighting) – This was a good plot with general stage lighting which ensured all corners were covered; with no shadowing. The projection of the clock was great and depicted the passing of time perfectly.
The Cast – (Properties) – The cast had done well getting the required props and cleverly disguised the fact that there were some they had been unable to procure. I liked the fact that table clothes and glasses were different for each play.
Chris Boott – (Sound) – Sound in this venue is always good and there was no exception to this on the evening of my visit. Sound effects were generally right for their purpose and well cued. However the body tumbling down the stairs did go on for rather a long time. I thought perhaps the Richards’ lived in a four storey building!
Cynthia Newman – (Front of House) – assisted by Cathy Jones/Gill Tomlins – A huge thank you to Cynthia and her team. They are so attentive and always make sure everyone is well looked after.
Jeanette Maskell – NODA Representative – London Region – Area 13