top of page

Sleeping Beauty
2014

Manor Theatre Group

 

Sleeping Beauty

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Saturday 13th December, 2014

Venue:  North Heath Hall, Horsham

Type of Production: Pantomime

Director: Laine Watson

Choreographer; Three Grey Haired Ladies

 

SHOW REPORT

 

Thank you to the Front of House Team for their warm welcome. I have seldom been made to feel more at home and been so well looked after and as this was my very first visit to this society they made it a very special event. I must commend Laine Watson for her excellent self penned script which retained all of the required Pantomime elements whilst, at the same time,  giving the story a fresh new twist. The set design was very simple and exceedingly versatile with bright colours and detail, complemented by the lighting of Moris Mackenzie. All of the scene changes were quickly achieved and well covered by Stage Manager Derek Watson and Hannah Miller, and the music was well chosen with old and new musical numbers throughout the show being varied and entertaining. Costumes by Laine assisted by members of the cast were well considered with nice bright colour choices.  The sixteen strong cast were excellent giving of their all in their effort to make this a memorable pantomime. Andy Bates and Cat Booker as King Edward and Queen Shirley were hilarious, she with her commanding presence and him a little bit down trodden but showing a great sense of fun. Becky Waine was beautiful in the Title role and displayed a lovely singing voice. The Pantomime Dame ‘type’ part, Madam Multibuy, was played exceedingly well and superbly costumed by Charlie McCulloch. She caused much merriment with the audience with her great walk and delivery of her very amusing lines. The Storyteller (Craig Bunce), Prince Eggbert (Stephen Foster) and James (Julian Tiley) also gave very convincing performances and Kathryn Felton was superb as Maleficent the inevitable and very important wicked witch who strode about the stage as if she owned it. No pantomime is complete without a good fairy (Anna Bird) but this one had two assistants, Fairy Nuff (Dennis Manning) and Fairy Liquid (Darren Worsfold), the comedy Duo. who both have great timing and work very well together, with more than a few cheeky borderline ad libs. Their baking scene was in a class of its own.  It had obviously been incredibly well rehearsed and every member of the audience, regardless of age, loved every moment of it.  They were certainly the stars of this production which was great fun from start to finish.  Well done everyone.

 

                                        National Operatic and Dramatic Association

                             15 The Metro Centre, Peterborough PE2 7UH

Tel 01733 237 790  Fax 01733 237 286  Email info@noda.org.uk  Web www.noda.org.uk

   Registered charity number 254640  Registered company number 241572  Registered in England and Wales at the above address 

                                           Patron: The Lord Lloyd Webber

The Importance 
of being Earnest
2015

Manor Theatre Group

 

The Importance of being Earnest

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Saturday 1st August, 2015

Venue:  North Heath Hall Gardens, Horsham

Type of Production: Play

Director: Craig Bunce

 

SHOW REPORT


The Importance of being Earnest was performed by this society in the open air in a village hall garden on a perfect August evening, and was well received by all who came.
We were given a very friendly welcome and were settled down, with drinks and snacks, to watch the play as others partook of picnics and refreshments, which was apt for the relaxed atmosphere. Any Society choosing this very ambitious play has numerous monumental problems to contend with especially in the open air with minimal scenery. Firstly it is one of Oscar Wilde’s most regularly performed and best known plays, secondly this piece is set in three acts, each requiring a different setting. Thirdly the cast requires five men of a variety of ages, a problem for many societies but Manor Theatre Group scored on all three of these counts. The play opens in Algernon Moncrieff”s flat in London. What an affected pompous character he is and Dennis Manning succeeded brilliantly with excellent body language and facial expressions. How he managed to consume all those cucumber sandwiches and still deliver his lines was remarkable. John Hope as Jack Worthing also rose to the period of the piece which is not easy when you compare the characters of that time with our modern day lifestyle. His performance was both very watchable and totally convincing. Suzanne Cottingham as Gwendolen Fairfax and Kathryn Felton as Cecily Cardew were suitably naive but very different. They both came over as if just stepping out of a Jane Austin novel with their mixture of primness and silliness. Next on the scene was Lady Bracknell played by Laine Watson. Her performance had so many well known actresses to compare to, but she made this her own. In Act 2 we were convincingly transported to the garden at the Manor House Woolton where Mandy Lovell as the very starchy Miss Prism was trying to control her wilful pupil. She was excellently supported by Andrew Bates as Rev Canon Chasuble a delightfully pious and subjugated character with a wonderful simpering stutter. Finally it is easy to forget that however talented and professionally the principals perform they need support from the entire cast. The parts of Lane and Merriman (John Oade and Julian Tiley) proved that everyone in this production was an important player. The subtle lighting and sound was adequate bearing in mind the setting, the costumes were well put together and the direction was excellent.

 

                                        National Operatic and Dramatic Association

                             15 The Metro Centre, Peterborough PE2 7UH

Tel 01733 237 790  Fax 01733 237 286  Email info@noda.org.uk  Web www.noda.org.uk

   Registered charity number 254640  Registered company number 241572  Registered in England and Wales at the above address 

                                           Patron: The Lord Lloyd Webber

Pirates of the 
Carob Bean
2016

Manor Theatre Group

 

Pirates of the Carob Bean

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Friday 16th December, 2016

Venue:  North Heath Hall, Horsham

Type of Production: Pantomime

Director: Laine Watson

 

SHOW REPORT

 

There is no doubt in my mind that the general standard of pantomime in the region seems to have risen this year so I was in good spirits and with high hopes of another seasonal triumph. Whatever the outcome it is never a hardship to take my seat at North Heath Hall and on this occasion it was an unusual mixture of Cinderella and Pirates (Yarr !). Almost from the very first I knew I was onto a winner as their pantomime elite bolstered (it is true) by a few new faces started to make their entrances. My on-going issue with amateur pantomime is (and has always been) the quality of the scripts. They just never seem to be funny, often containing virtually no scripted gags with all the humour coming visually or from slapstick and ad-lib frequently conceived and delivered on the hoof. To be honest, it is quite often just not enough. I can report that this was a notable exception. Another good script by Dennis Manning and Darren Worsfold was indeed filled with pantomime gags. This is the annual pantomime in the village hall that has been performed to full houses for many years and I guess that the cast either knew or were related to most of the audience which gave a real pantomime atmosphere. In my opinion pantomime is at its best in a village hall with many of the local people involved and local residence in the audience. They come prepared to be entertained and Manor certainly did that for them. However it is also very important that the show is well staged, the dialogue learnt and the cast acting their characters with conviction and again Manor came up trumps.  On the whole the singing was good and the music well chosen with plenty of variety. Dennis gave an exciting demanding performance as the Pirate Captain Redbeard, Darren was paired up with Julian Tiley as two of the pirate crew performing some of the best scenes in the show well supported by the other pirates.  Their cake baking scene was outstanding and a wonderful ‘Mop Routine’ with the other pirates had all the audience in fits of laughter. Andrew Page made a good Widow Twanky, Andrew Bates made a delightful Wolf, Charlie McCullock was great as The Queen, Sarah Ward sang really well, Craig Bunce made a very amusing Prince Charming/Guest and the rest of the cast, too many to mention by name, added to this jolly evening of fun. However one does have to be careful with Pantomime that the scenes never become crude bearing in mind that it is mainly for children.                         
 

 

 

                                          National Operatic and Dramatic Association

                             15 The Metro Centre, Peterborough PE2 7UH

Tel 01733 237 790  Fax 01733 237 286  Email info@noda.org.uk  Web www.noda.org.uk

   Registered charity number 254640  Registered company number 241572  Registered in England and Wales at the above address 

A note from 
Ray Cooneys 
agent
Run for your wife. 2016

Dear Laine and Robin,

 

Can I please thank you both for making me so welcome last night at your production.

 

Congratulation to you Laine on your staging of the piece, Please again pass on my congratulations to the cast and all those involved in with the production, you all seem such a GREAT crowd of people.

 

I have spoken to Ray and told him about the performance and he says, 'He can’t not believe he wrote over thirty years ago, it only seems like yesterday, please also pass his best wishes to the Company for a very enjoyable and successful show tonight, but above all have FUN!’

 

 

Thank you




Michael Barfoot
General Manager
Ray Cooney Plays
8 Newhouse Terrace
Edenbridge
Kent
TN8 6HJ
Telephone & Fax: +44 (0)1732 867405

It Runs in the 
Family
2017

It Runs in the Family

Date26th May 2017

SocietyManor Theatre Group

VenueNorth Heath Hall, Horsham

Type of ProductionPlay

DirectorAndrew Page

Report

Author: Jose Harrison

This was another highly amusing play I have had the pleasure of seeing in a period of two weeks. This one was written by Ray Cooney, an exceptionally talented writer of ‘farce’. This hilarious ‘hospital caper’ had doctors, nurses, matrons and various family members in abundance all set in the staff room. (not a ward in sight).  The set was very cleverly arranged for good exits and entrances, the furnishings and props were excellent but the really brilliant piece was a long window across the back through which we saw some of the funniest scenes both outside and coming through it. My complements to the technical team and set builders for an outstanding effort.

I don’t really know where to begin reporting on the various and incredibly varied members of the cast of twelve as there wasn’t a weak link amongst them. They all looked the part, were well costumed and guaranteed to cause huge amusement especially when pretending to be someone other than themselves regardless of sex or age.

Dennis Manning had the most demanding role as Dr. Mortimore, an ambitious go-getting individual whose past catches up with him in the form Debra Thurley with whom he had an affair 18 years and 9 months previously. Her son Leslie, performed outstandingly by Craig Bunce, is determined to find daddy having been told the truth on coming of age. Dennis and Craig gave the two most outstanding performances but this in no way belittles the rest of this outstanding cast.

Debra and Laine Watson, Mortimore’s long suffering wife were both excellent but totally different, and Andrew Bates as Dr Bonney was a sheer delight and a laugh a minute in his Friar Tuck and matron outfits. Strange as it may seem I think my favourite character was the only patient in the whole show Roger Kidd, whose dialogue consisted of one-liners and spent all his time in a wheelchair (apart from the occasional nip across the stage for a top up of whisky). All the other six gave great supporting performances giving the whole show a touch of professionalism.

Please send my congratulations to Andrew for his excellent direction.

Address

National Operatic and Dramatic Association, 15 The Metro Centre, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE2 7UH

Robin Hood &
the Babes in the 
Wood
2017

Manor Theatre Group

 

Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Friday, 15th December, 2017.

Venue: North Heath Hall, Horsham

Type of Production: Pantomime.

Director: Dennis James Manning

 

   SHOW REPORT

Everything about this production was cleverly written and organised for children. Even the programme had a complete page of puzzles to keep them amused during the interval, there was their own shop where they could buy drinks, sweets and crisps and the whole production had their entertainment in mind. As usual this society, who write their own pantomimes, had incorporated plenty of ‘slapstick’, including cream all over two of the principals, bird droppings come down from the ‘sky’, bake beans poured all over each other, knock about scenes with frying pans, coshes and sticks and plenty of very corny jokes which made their young audience laugh and cheer and the adults groan! Their set was simple but clever and their scene changes might be considered old fashioned but ideal using the age old system of closing the curtains leaving a few actors in front to keep the story line going whilst new props were set on the stage behind. By far the best system when one is trying to maintain the magic of Panto for children. The lighting worked well, the costumes were simple but very appropriate and the sound effects were remarkable. They kept Damon Lingars exceedingly busy. I was particularly delighted at the bird sounds which gave a wonderful feeling to all the scenes set in the woodland.

The young audience booed and shrieked at the wicked Sheriff, Darren Worsfold who gave an outstanding performance. His version of ‘You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two’ showed his strong singing ability. Sadly I found it very difficult to pick up quite a lot of the dialogue especially Dennis Manning, the dame Nurse Gertrude, because his high pitched voice came over as a screech but his performance was everything the kids wanted from the dame. The good fairy played by Debra Thurley opened the show wearing a gorgeous dress making all the little girls ooh and aah and fall in love with her. Cai Jones (Robin Hood) Suzanne Page (Maid Marion), Roger Kidd and Laine Watson (Jack and Jill, the Babes in the Wood) gave excellent performances, maintaining their very varied personalities, speaking clearly having obviously put a great deal of effort into learning their words. Cai lead his band of Merry Men, Helen White, Julian Tiley, Mandy Lovell, Craig Bunce and Annette Mealin, with great style especially in their very amusing version of ‘We’re Men in Tights’. No pantomime is complete without a pair of incompetent ‘baddies’. Anna Bird and Andrew Bates filled these roles delightfully singing ‘Money Makes the World Go Round’ really cleverly together. A small group of four provided Villagers and various other bit parts all performing with conviction.

There were a few great Panto Touches which would delighted the local adults so, thanks to the tasteful and well worded humour, parents would consider this the ideal family outing. Well done.

Keep the Home 
Fires Burning &
PVT.Wars
2018

Manor Theatre Group

 

Keep the Home Fires Burning/PVT.Wars

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Friday, 13th April, 2018.

Venue: North Heath Hall, Horsham

Type of Production: Two One Act Plays

Directors: Suzanne Page/Dennis Manning

 

   SHOW REPORT

At a time when the Government is contemplating getting involved in more conflict over seas and the 100th anniversary of the First World War is looming these two pieces of theatre brought home very strongly the horror of any such involvement and the after effects on those taking part. Manor Theatre must be congratulated on putting together two such different plays, the first set over an extended period of time from 1918 to the present day and the second sometime in the late 1940s.

Keep the Home Fires Burning.

Evelyn (Laine Watson) close on 100 years of age, sits surrounded by mementoes and love letters from her long dead beau Charles (Craig Bunce). She is being cared for by Sarah (Anna Bird) an unfeeling young woman who has no conception of Evelyn’s past life having never married after losing the love of her life at the end of the war. The audience is then taken through the horrors of being in the trenches and the inhuman sacrifices demanded of so many including Charles’s great friend Joseph (Julian Tiley) who is obviously suffering from stress. Joseph’s girl friend Ida (Kate Smith) has volunteered as a nurse, to be near him, but was totally unprepared for what she was expected to do or see at the front. Nurse Elizabeth (Debra Thurley) takes her under her wing and together they cope with the endless string of casualties. Sergeant Smith, (Roger Kidd) Lance Corporal Church (Andy Bates) and Captain Allenby (John Oade) between them brought home forcibly the power and lack of understanding of the military at that time whilst back home young Evelyn (Suzanne Page) read the letters from her intended and wept for her loss.

This was brilliantly written and directed by Suzanne with very well chosen music and a great opening rendition of ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ sung by Debra Thurley. The whole production was exceptional, the set cleverly arranged, the Props and Costumes outstanding and sound and lighting so realistic. The audience were so involved with what they saw that they forgot to applaud until the final curtain closure. What more can I say!!

PVT. Wars

This play was in complete contrast being set in a ‘mental home’ hospice for American veterans suffering from ‘battle fatigue’ after Vietnam or similar conflicts. The three men Natwick, (Dennis Manning) Silvio (Cai Jones) and Woodruff Gately (Jonathan Hope) were very different and so superbly performed that they held the audience’s attention for just on an hour with nothing more than a table and chairs and a few hand props. Natwich was nervous, hands clenching and unclenching having difficulty finishing a sentence obviously nearing breaking point. Silvio in contrast, bounced about the stage like a coiled spring, desperate to leave the home and convinced he was God’s gift to the female sex. Woodruff hardly moved from his chair where he sat rebuilding a wireless set, stoically endearing, determined to complete the one project that one felt he might do for the rest of his life. The all maintained their American accents throughout.  The whole play was cleverly set with relevant recorded spoken lines played between each scene. This was another winner for Manor Theatre. A brilliant evening.

Subject: FW: NODA SE - Regional Awards - Shortlist

Dear Laine,

 

I am delighted to tell you that you have been short listed for the best new show ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ and have actually been awarded, by me, my award for the best play jointly for Keep the Home Fires Burning and PVT Wars. They were both so good that I couldn’t choose between them. I hope you are able to come to our Celebration day on 24th March at Guildford to receive your awards and hope you win the short list as well.

Many congratulations.

Jack and the 
Beanstalk
2018

Manor Theatre Group

 

Jack and the Beanstalk

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Thursday, 13th December 2018.

Venue: North Heath Hall, Horsham

Type of Production: Pantomime

Director: Dennis Manning

 

   SHOW REPORT

The art of pantomime is definitely an area of expertise for this group, each member of the cast - and indeed the folk backstage - clearly had a ball with this production. Everyone shone with the excitement of being involved which is such a key ingredient when taking part in a panto and ultimately resulted in a well presented and enjoyable production. With panto’s, you can use pretty much any songs you like to convey that particular characters emotion or heighten the ambiance of that particular scene and the songs chosen all fitted to create the right mood of that moment. The chorus song choices were a great selection and, as it should be, each song was recognisable which had the audience humming  along, adding to a great pre-christmas atmosphere!

Jack and the Beanstalk, written by Darren Worsfold and  Dennis Manning, was full of panto tradition from the moment the curtains opened. This fun-filled family event had all the traditional elements, we have learnt to expect, from start to finish.  In this version of the well known fairy tale Jack goes off to seek money to pay his mothers debts, save the villagers who were being ‘milked dry’ by the giants henchmen and to marry the love of his life the Princess. He encounters not one villain but three in the form of Rancid Clot, Bean and Dunnit. The latter two, played by the authors, enchanted the younger element in the audience with their incredible antics and slap stick scenes and Rancid, played by John Oade  was  outstandingly evil. Sadly he spoke a little too fast so we had some difficulty in catching all his dialogue but his version of ‘I’m All Alone’  sung with the other two baddies was the song of the show.

The main character in this particular panto is, of course, Jack – expertly played by Robyn Dessoy – who has fallen in love with the lovely Princess, played by Lauren Smith.  It was great to see such a quality “duo” here – and their musical numbers were delivered with ease. Playing Dame Trot was the very capable Jonathan Hope who gave us a traditional Dame delivering the part exactly as it should be. He was zany, energised and adored by all. Every appearance on stage sported a different costume, hat or wig in brilliant colours and styles and his dialogue was totally suitable for all ages in the audience. His first love was his cow Daisy superbly performed by Laura Mitchell and Connor Hope. Apart from the outstanding costume the couple shone in their ability to dance in time with each other and the rest of the chorus and portray their character and emotions. I loved her!  Laine Watson gave us the character of Fairy Mary making her stand out and frequently leading the chorus numbers, a performance which I enjoyed very much. Andrew Bates as the King and Georgie Tarr as Dozy Denn were full of mischief labouring  hard to keep the audience on their toes and laughing. Add to this a hard working chorus and no wonder this pantomime was so entertaining.

Natural Causes
2019

Manor Theatre Group

            Natural Causes

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Friday 29th March, 2019.

Venue:  North Heath Hall

Type of Production:  Play

Director:  Laine Watson

 

SHOW REPORT

There is no doubt in my mind that the general standard of plays in my region has risen over the years so it was with great expectations that I visited Manor Theatre last week. My first impression of this excellent production, when entering the hall, was the professional looking set which was built from scratch by the society members. Their stage is unusually wide and rather shallow in depth but they really know how to use the area to advantage, the whole being set off by a lovely fire place with its glowing fire centre back. The props and furnishings were well placed giving a good feeling of comfort and allowing for plenty of free movement.

    The entire play, consisting of 4 scenes, takes place over a period of one day in a study come library which looked beautifully natural and homely.  Laine Watson convincingly played a manic depressive wife who had spent many years telling her husband that she wished to end her life. Unfortunately she has set her heart on them both dying together. She is convinced that he couldn’t live happily without her but he plans to prove her wrong. Jonathan Hope, the long suffering husband, and his bit on the side, Georgie Tarr, his secretary, both exceeding well portrayed, decided that she should be assisted in her efforts so call in Vincent, brilliantly played by Suzanne Page, who has made it his life’s work to ensure that all suicides take place smoothly and efficiently.   This highly amusing play became even more dramatic and farcical with the arrival of Withers, a member of the Samaritans, enacted frustratingly but determinedly by Craig Bunce. His various entrances onto the stage were memorable mainly at a flat out speed.

The wonderfully clever dialogue written by Eric Chappell, a long string of misunderstandings as to who was who and a large quantity of matching glasses of sherry and a small bottle of poison all added up to the required ingredient for a very entertaining farce.  The five members of cast performed this very well written script, excellently directed by Laine, managing to keep us in suspense as to who would die apart from the rubber plant, or for that matter, if anyone would, to the very end. 

The Wind in the 
Willows
2019

Manor Theatre Group

   The Wind in the Willows

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Saturday  24th August, 2019.

Venue:  North Heath Hall

Type of Production:  Play with music

Director:  Andrew Page

 

SHOW REPORT

What a splendid summer evening and a great setting for performing this open air production. The Wind in the Willows is a perfect play to perform outside and Manor Theatre are a great company for stretching their talent, and this was an excellent choice. I have read their superb programme from cover to cover and am staggered at the effort displayed by their members.

Regarding the actual production, sadly it lacked pace which made it drag at times and made it rather long. This may have been caused by the many changes in venue which lead to a degree of uncertainty in the cast.  Also the scene changes took a little too long but the enthusiasm of the performers went a long way towards compensating for these short comings.

Every member of the cast performed well, knew their lines and obviously enjoyed their very varied roles. There were far too many to mention them all by name but I must pick out a few for their outstanding efforts. Andrew Bates not only played Toad, he also wrote the play in conjunction with Roger Kidd who played the horse. Their script was a delight with so many amusing lines and a great collection of songs which they also wrote, composed the music and sung. What an outstanding effort. Jonathan Hope was excellent as Badger. He looked the part with his great choice of costume and convincing make-up and everything about the way he moved and spoke was Badger as I have always pictured him. Suzanne Page played Ma Weasel and also assisted with the directing. The weasels are expected to be a strong force to be reckoned with and she certainly was! Her presence filled the stage area with her powerful voice and commanding character. There were many other good performances, so well done everyone.

I was very impressed with the Sound Engineer, Simon Garland, as every word could be heard clearly despite being staged in the garden. I understand he also made most of the wonderful props which included a barge, a train, a car and a caravan amongst others.  All of these were painted by Laine Watson who also made many appearances during the performance as Mrs Hedgehog.

This is one of the most versatile societies in the whole of my region. Here’s to their next production, Snow White.

Snow White
2019

         Manor Theatre Group

   SNOW WHITE and People of Varying Heights

 

Reviewed by:  Jose Harrison on Friday 13th December, 2019.

Venue:  North Heath Hall

Type of Production:  Pantomime.

Director:  Laine Watson

 

SHOW REPORT

This highly talented society has proved, over the years, its ability to stage exceptional productions. Sadly, this time, they were let down by a script which was too long and included too much ‘lavatory’ humour with too many smutty innuendos. Having said that, there were many good points and some excellent performances.

The highlight of the whole production, for the youngsters, was the slapstick routines. David Manning and Darren Worsfold are always outstanding in that section, going even more over the top than usual and I loved their ‘plank’ routine. So simple but so clever and obviously very well rehearsed.

The set was cleverly designed incorporating the necessary elements for every scene. This included a house and a very clever mirror. The narrator, Andy Bates, was great. His whole approach to the production was outstanding and the use of his chair was brilliant. I loved his whole performance. Mirror, played by Craig Bunce, was also hilarious and his use of the magic mirror which enabled him to enter and exit from the stage by simply pushing the strands of glitter aside was a great idea. His costume was fabulous and thoughtfully planned as were most of the principals outfits making it a very colourful show.

William, the huntsman, played by Alex Reed, was a joy to watch. His whole body language, facial expressions and great entrances and exits from the stage made him the ‘love element’ with a difference. The wicked Queen, Erin Mackey, commanded the stage every time she appeared whether it was as her thoroughly unpleasant self with her strident voice determined to be heard or even as the old lady in the wood who poisoned Snow White. She sang a very powerful solo with great passion. Alex also sang a duet with Georgie Tarr, Snow White, which was rather moving. Georgie spent quite a lot of time lying on the floor suffering from the Queen’s sleep potion but unfortunately kept opening her eyes and once almost sat up whilst supposedly under the influence of the poison.

Add to this a selection of ‘overgrown’ dwarfs, a dame, a prince and a valet all looking and acting the parts well and adding to the good chorus numbers and excellent direction by Laine Watson and Christmas is here with a flourish.

Beauty & the 
Beast.
2022

BEAUTY & THE BEAST - Manor Theatre Group

 

Pantomimes are performed traditionally around the Christmas period and like a Christmas cake need the correct variety of ingredients. A good pantomime should have a good basic story with a love interest, singing from cast and audience participation, dancing, comedy, slapstick, “behind you”s, jokes that make you groan, a good versus evil coupling and strong distinctive characters.

 

“Beauty and the Beast” from the Manor Theatre Group had all of this in their production. The innovative and brilliantly written script was by two members of the society, Darren Worsfold and Denn Manning who also played the parts of Molly and Pierre respectively. This was the slapstick element and performed with precision and expertise.     

 

The good versus evil element was provided by Fairy Snowdrop and Evil Edna (Laine Watson and Lauren Smith). The traditional war between these two forces was enacted expertly. Belle Bottom (Becky Waine) was the love interest of the Beast (Jonathan Hope) whilst also being pursued by Farquhar (Patrick Casey), the egotistical obnoxious Lord of the Manor character. All three and their diverse characteristics were played to a high degree of acting. The rest of the Bottom family was Bertie (Andy Bates), Belle’s father and also father to Smelle (Grace Thomas), who was always in the shadows with regards to her sister, to everyone except her father. These semi-comedic parts were portrayed very well. Farquhar’s solo, “It’s hard to be humble” was a real treat.  The Town Crier (Connor Brennan) needs mention also as he was the one with the jokes that make you groan. The last three of the cast, Prince Trueheart, Dobbin and the Beast’s aide Dan Druff (Anna Bird, Daryl Holmwood and Julian Tiley) had less to do than the aforementioned characters but fulfilled their roles with all the necessary qualities. All the parts were supported throughout with a small chorus who reacted to the various situations and enhanced the singing and ambience of the scenes.  

 

The set was impressive for such a small stage and the sound and lighting executed efficiently. Congratulations to writers, director, cast and crew for an enjoyable and extremely hilarious couple of hours entertainment.

bottom of page