NODA Reviews
Blackburn Drama Club

“SHEARER OR ME!”

NODA

AWARD

NODA reviews reproduced here by permission

Reviews are available for the following plays

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

FUR COAT AND NO KNICKERS

THE CRUCIBLE

A TASTE OF HONEY

HABEAS CORPUS

THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

ABIGAIL'S PARTY

HAPPY FAMILIES

THE HERBAL BED

AN EVENING WITH GARY LINEKER

HOBSON'S CHOICE

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

BEYOND A JOKE

HOUSE GUEST

TOUCH AND GO

BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT

JOURNEY'S END

TRIVIAL PURSUITS

BILLY LIAR

MEMORY OF WATER

TWO PLANKS AND A PASSION

BLACK COMEDY

NEVILLE’S ISLAND

WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?

BOUNCERS

PACK OF LIES

WILDEST DREAMS

BOUNCERS     Second review

PLAYHOUSE CREATURES

 

BRASSED OFF

PRESENT FROM THE PAST

 

BREEZEBLOCK PARK

RACING DEMON

 

BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

 

CASH ON DELIVERY

SHAKERS – RESTIRRED

 

CAUGHT IN THE NET

THE ANNIVERSARY

 

CONFUSIONS

THE CHALK GARDEN

 

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June 2009

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Fur Coat and No Knickers

Director: Paul Mason

This is a comedy farce from the pen of Mike Harding and the director gave a first class account of himself with a super comedy. The set was interesting and worked well; I liked particularly the use of projection.

Edith was played by Shelagh Turner who gave us great facial expressions, interesting dialogue, good monologues and great comedy. Diedre was played by Leanne Sandbrook and she created a good character. Peter was played well by Jon Hindle who gave us a good performance, strong diction and great comedy.

Dave Batterby gave a wonderful interpretation of Harry with some great comedy moments. Kevin was played well by Mark Duxbury, who made the most of this character and delivered what was required.

The lighting of the set worked well. The props were in keeping with the period and the cast worked them to perfection. The play went with such a pace from curtain up. I liked what the director had done with the characters, who introduced themselves to the audience.

Muriel Greenhalgh was played well by Jade Bentley and Clive Stack gave a good account of himself as Ronald Greenhalgh. Father Malloy was played well by Eric Nolan. However, he did tend to play being intoxicated a little too well at times. The scene in the club, I thought, was extremely well executed.

George Albert ws played to perfection by Terry barber who gave such a comfortable, polished performance with great comedy timing and was so funny. Other cast members worked well and added to the quality of the performance.

This was a great play, well written and the performers delivers the goods. Thank you for your hospitality.

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NEVILLES ISLAND

Director: Anita Shaw

Having seen this play a few times I knew I was in for a good laugh, and I was not disappointed.

The story revolves around four men on a bonding exercise from work, getting lost from the rest of the group, and landing on an island somewhere in the Lake District (this doesn’t sound all that exciting but it is really funny). The play focuses on their characters and inhibitions and the effects on each other. We have the sarcastic bully, the nervous type, the “lets keep the peace” type and the wimp.

The curtain opened on a brilliant set, very well constructed and very well used. The four characters were very well cast and all played their parts with relish. Neville (Clive Stack) was the “lets keep the peace” type. His mild mannered ways and wanting to be everyone’s friend (the type we have all met) was played very well and you felt sorry for him really!

Gordon (David Battersby) was the sarcastic bully who you really did want to hit; you were superb (I bet he had a sore throat with all the shouting he had to do).

Angus (Jeffrey Moxham) the wimp really for all occasions. His rucksack carried many things, plates, matches, flares, chopping boards, everything but the kitchen sink! It was hilarious watching what he was going to take out next. He played this part to perfection.

Roy (Rob Trethewey) the nervous type – he really made you think about when people are on the edge of a breakdown, well played with a lot of empathy, brilliant.

The characters at the beginning were all very wet, having had to swim to the island and the scene meant they all had to change clothes – it was like watching “Mr Bean”, very funny and well done to you all.

The only thing I really felt frustrated about was the lights coming down to bring the tree on and off, this should have been incorporated into the set as it lost a bit of continuity, as well as the cast going on and off unnecessarily.

On the whole though a very, very good production and Anita Shaw should be pleased and proud of the players on set. Well done to all concerned.

( J.H)

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Hobson's Choice

Director: Jeffrey Moxham

The opening set was good but, I felt, a little sparse. The experienced cast worked well together to create a good evening's entertainment.

Leanne Sandbrook played Alice Hobson with just the right accent and projection. Vickey Hobson was played well by Hayley Bannister who gave a sound performance throughout. Maggie Hobson was played by Anita Shaw who gave us lovely moments with Willie Mossop played by Jon Hindle.

Brian Whittaker, looking the part, gave a good account as Hobson. Mrs Hepworth, Muriel Eccles, and Tubby Wadlow, Joe Connor, were both well played. Albert Prosser was played by Martin Pugh. Ada Figgins was played by Stephanie Cooper. Jim Heeler was played by Eric Nolan who gave a good account of this character. Patrick Walsh played Fred Beanstalk, and Dr Macfarlane was well played by Joe Connor.

I loved the comedy dialogue between Maggie and Hobson and the build up between Maggie and Willie before going to bed. This was a very complex play to stage and which had areas that needed more attention. However, I did like the play; thank you for your hospitality.

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Brimstone and Treacle

Director: Steven Derbyshire

This was the most thought provoking, sensitive, and wonderful piece of cutting edge theatre that I have seen this season from the pen of Dennis Potter, about a family caring for their daughter who is in a coma and are befriended by a stranger. The set worked well for the small cast of four. It was well designed and decorated with furniture in keeping with the time. The costumes also suited the times and looked well. The lighting design and effects created by Daniel Adams complimented the action on stage.

The play opened with two strong performances from Mr Bates played by John Orgill and Mrs Bates played by Carol-Anne Connolly. John had a wonderful accent and established the character from the start of Act One. Carol-Anne Connolly was superbly cast as Mrs Bates and took on board all the mannerisms, stance and accent required. She developed a wonderful character that worked for me. Both Carol-Anne and John worked to perfection together and I could appreciate the highs and lows and use of projection of voice. I could hear every word of dialogue even when sensitive situations were in discussion.

The director Steven Derbyshire paid great attention to detail which made this play work for me, from the imaginary curtains closing and the lighting effects, to the hot coffee on stage.

The part of the comatose daughter Pattie Bates, was played to perfection by Heidi Needham. This was a very difficult part to play with timing, actions and mannerisms being most important. Heidi was on stage for the whole play and didn't let her guard down even during the twist at the end when she came back from her coma. This was a great piece of acting, well done.

With a wonderful entrance from the pit and great lighting and sound effects, we saw Martin Taylor being confidently played by Jon Hindle. Jon managed to build this character and the plot from the start to what could be a quite sinister and disturbing individual. The character you created had a wonderful way of manipulating Mr and Mrs Bates and twisting the truth. The use of simple hand gestures was great and added to the whole performance, I thought the song you sang on stage (You are my Sunshine) was both well delivered and gave a depth to the story, I loved how Jon used glances to the audience, and the use of facial expressions all added to your portrayal of the character who won over the trust of the family and went on to rape their daughter. A very disturbing, thought provoking piece of theatre.

This action moved with a fast pace. The Director Steven Derbyshire hit the nail on the head here. The insight and the way that he moved the cast around the set, and the delivery of the disturbing scenes was all wonderfully directed, well done.

There was a strong opening to Act two with attention to detail again with a change of scene and music Angels etc., very subtle. I loved the way that Mr and Mrs Bates became closer as a result of Martin and I loved the dramatic argument between Mr and Mrs Bates which built to perfection. I enjoyed the twist at the end when all was revealed and Pattie spoke. I also enjoyed Martin's monologue during Act 4. This seemed to be discussing the very emotive subject of concentration camps and was very compelling.

This play had a lot of very risky connotations and in my opinion the Society was brave to explore strong subjects like these.

The play left us with one unanswered question, after we saw Martin praying for the daughter, was he the Devil or an Angel?

Well done!

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Black Comedy

Director: Rob Trethewey

Oh what a joy! Blackburn Drama Club' revival of this Peter Shaffer classic was hilarious and very well presented.

This was my first attendance of a production from this Club. It certainly won't be my last. The performances were compelling. The enthusiasm from the cast was a joy to behold; my attention was fixed to the stage all night.

All the characters were given comical and energetic interpretations and came across as totally believable. Director Rob Trethewey, had coaxed the best from his talented cast. They all worked extremely well together, especially when acting as though in the dark – fabulous.

The costumes and set were just right.

Judging by the reaction of the audience on the night I attended, a great night was had by all. Congratulations.

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The Diary Of Anne Frank

Director: Eric Nolan

The audience was profoundly moved on the night I attended Blackburn Drama Club's revival of Hackett and Goodrich's, The Diary Of Anne Frank.

Everything about this production was outstanding, from the music, composed by Wayne Avanson, to the lighting from John Barrett. The props from Margaret Nolan, Liz Fisher and Tanya Harrison were faultless. Geoff Eccles and Ken Wilkinson's set was ingenious. Hair by Jean Jones and make up by Joan Woolmington were historically accurate. Graham Haworth worked the stage well.

There was much to savour in the presentation by the actors. Jean Jones impressed as Mrs. Van Daan. Joe Connor played her husband with skill. Anita Shaw shone as Mrs. Frank. John Hindle's playing of Mr. Dussel was multi-layered and subtle, a delight to watch. Rebecca Schofield was well cast as Margot. The smaller parts of Mr. Kraler and Miep Gies were ably managed by Martyn Pugh and Suzanne Nolan.

Eleanor Pearson Cooper demonstrated she had the range of emotions to match the young Anne Frank. This was a first class depiction. As Peter Van Daan, Patrick Walsh was her perfect foil turning in a convincing portrayal. Andrew Smith, as Otto Frank, delivered a performance of considerable stature and dignity. Muschi was purrfec!

Eric Nolan clearly knew how to get the best from his accomplished team. He is to be congratulated on directing a memorable, thought-provoking production.

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BEYOND A JOKE

Director: Jean Jones.

Another excellent set, this time a country house, which worked well. However because of the design and the layout of the theatre I think that some seats must have had a restricted view.

Another strong cast which was well directed by Jean Jones. For me the best performance was delivered by Joan McCann as Sarah, she played the part to perfection and looked like she was having a ball. However, all the cast worked well together and gave excellent performances and had the audience in stitches.

Another enjoyable outing to the Thwaites Empire Theatre. Thank you.

TWO PLANKS AND A PASSION

Director: Paul Mason

This play, set against the background of the York Passion Plays in 1392, is essentially a timeless comedy of neighbours trying to out-do each other; in this scenario to gain favour with the King.

ALL the cast performed well so it would be unfair to single out individuals.

The minimal set and the use of the theatre itself worked well to convey the various settings. As in the last costume drama put on by this society, the costumes were excellent. An enjoyable evening.

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CAUGHT IN THE NET

Director: Dorothy Perkins

This is a Ray Cooney farce involving a taxi driver who has two separate families; eventually his lies start to catch up on him.

The set worked well and cleverly depicted the two different residences in one setting.

As a farce the timing is very important and the cast dealt with this very well.

There were excellent performances from ALL the cast in what must be a very difficult play to learn with people having split conversations as people in the two different houses communicate at the same time.

Well done everyone. An enjoyable evening.

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PLAYHOUSE CREATURES

Director: Joan McCann

It is good to see a production that challenges both the actors and the audience. This play, set in the 17th Century, is about the first actresses to appear on stage and is based on fact.

The set for this production was minimal and it worked well with swift changes from scene to scene.

The costumes were fabulous and exactly right for the period.

All of the performances were excellent under the competent direction of Joan McCann, so in many ways it is unfair to pick out individuals, but I particularly liked Janine Swarbrick's portrayal of Nell Gynn. It was a delight to watch.

An enjoyable evening. Well done.

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AN EVENING WITH GARY LINEKER

Director: Carol-Anne Connolly

A super production well directed by Carol-Anne Connolly, her first here at the drama club. Let's hope it's not her last.

A good workable set greeted us. Did I smell muscle balm at one point? Everything about this production was in keeping with football; the programme included.

Performances came good and strong. After a two year absence, Debbie Mitchell returned and gave a super and natural performance as Monica.

As her husband Bill, Clive Stack was quite brilliant and together with his "mate" Dan, behaved like the typical football supporter does! Dan, Steven Derbyshire, gave a usual class performance.

As Ian, who is not really into the beautiful game, Rob Trethewey had me in stitches. Or was it his shorts? He gave a strong performance.

Birgitta was played well by Heidi Needham. Her German accent was well maintained throughout.

Lights were a bit dodgy the night I was there and I know Carol-Anne was pulling her hair out! Not to worry I saw everything!

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A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

Director: Dorothy Perkins

Did I not want to go to this or what?! But I'm glad I did. This was brilliant: a journey of emotion that left me in tears. Excellent. So many good performances I cannot possibly mention everyone individually, the cast collectively was just fantastic.

As the Common Man, Clive Stack injected a bit of light relief into the proceedings; he was super. Michael Eccles played Thomas Cromwell very wickedly. I really did want to harm this man. Steven Derbyshire was very regal as King Henry VIII, a good portrayal. Lady Alice Moore, (Muriel Eccles) and Lady Margaret Moore (Suzanne Nolan) were both excellent. As was Eric Nolan as the Duke of Norfolk. Jeffrey Moxham skillfully played Sir Thomas Moore. He was absolutely exceptional. This was a pleasure to behold and I believed him.

A simple but very effective set wonderfully directed by Dorothy Perkins. This was a splendid night.

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TRIVIAL PURSUITS

Director: Robert Trethewey

A super effort for Robert Trethewey on his debut as a director. A good asset to the club. An excellent and workable set greeted us as the curtain opened, well-lit and audible sound.

I personally was not impressed with the script and felt the end left a lot of unfinished business, that aside we saw some good performances.

The Host and Hostess of the 'party', Roz and Nick were played well by Heidi Needham and Brian Healy, Jean Jones as Pearl was super and her mate Mona, Geraldine Eccles complemented each other, although at times I felt that Geraldine was unsure, but I put it down to a bit of nervousness. Anna Keagan played Jessica, the floozy. Anna, relax and stop trying so hard! A couple on the verge of divorce, Deirdre and Derek, Jade Bentley and John Orgill, were very amusing and John's drunk was funny.

As the has-been actress, Joyce, wanting to make her comeback, Carol-Anne Connolly was excellent and her long time theatre 'Buddy' Teddy, played by Paul Mason was fantastic! I have now seen Mr Mason in a completely new light! Cracking pair of legs Paul!

In the middle of the entire goings on, we have Mr Boring! Eddie, played by Steven Derbyshire, he still maintains the standard I have come to expect from him. Well done!

A good evening!

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BRASSED OFF
Director: Dorothy Perkins

Advertised as “The live stage version of the popular British Film”, popular was indeed an appropriate word to use as this play was a complete sell out for Blackburn Drama Club.

Dorothy Perkins did a superb job of directing not only the talented cast, but guiding the Haslingden and Helmshore Brass Band through the production, too. What a wonderful collaboration.

This was a very powerful play taking us back to the miners strike of 1984/85; it was a very emotional insight into effect that it had on families.

Bandleader Danny was played strongly by Brian Whittaker. Some of his lines were fantastic and delivery spot on. His son, Phil played by Wayne Avanson. He gave a good believable performance especially when he was ‘playing’ his trombone. As his desperately worried wife Sandra, Emma Louise Wood looked and played this role well.

Moments of comedy came from couples Jim and Vera (Eric Nolan and Muriel Eccles) and Harry and Rita (David Batterby and Jean Jones), though not forgetting the underlying seriousness of the situation, both couples were excellent.

The ‘Jack-the-Lad’ role or Andy was played wonderfully by Stephen Derbyshire. His ‘Love Interest’ being Gloria was quite a revelation. Christina Ogden was very much the Club. They needed a flugelhorn player who was female and could act! Bingo! Never having acted before Christina did an excellent job and could certainly play her horn.

Young Graeme Bramwell as Shane also impressed as Phil and Sandra’s son Shane.

Costumes were good, as was the simple but effective set. Lighting and sound were on occasion a bit dodgey but not too distracting from the plot.

The Haslingden and Helmshore Brass Band were super and many shivers were running down the spine and a few tears also shed!

This evening was quite exceptional.

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BOUNCERS

Directed by Wayne Avanson

This play was "Back by Popular Demand!" and marked the occasion of the new Thwaites Theatre being opened in Blackburn.

There will now follow a "new" way to crit' a play!

Clive Stack - AKA - Judd, Plain Elaine & Terry = Fantastic!

Steven Derbyshire - AKA - Ralph, Sexy Suzy & Jerry = Outstanding!

David Batterby - AKA - Lucky Eric, Maureen & Baz = Magnificent!

Rob Trethewey - AKA - Les, Rosie & Kev = Wonderful!

Back stage = Great!

Direction = Smoothly executed!

This was an outrageously funny play and even now I'm still laughing when I think about it.

A SUPER night and if I hadn't been going out the following night I would have gone back for more! Here endeth my "Social Comments!"

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Directed by Joan McCann

So to Darwen Library Theatre and to the 19th century. Did the 'Snobs' really talk like that? This is probably one of Jane Austen's most well known stories and was well received at the Drama Club. Anita Shaw as Eleanor and Elizabeth Wood as Marianne were super as the sisters whose love lives seem to be constantly in turmoil. Their 'suitors' Edward, played by Michael Eccles, Willoughby, played by Wayne Avanson and Brandon played by Clive Stack, all impressed. 'The other woman' Lucy Steel a.k.a. Jan Barker was also well played and I felt quite sorry for Eleanor after Lucy had appeared. The audience was in stitches when Aunt Jennings made her appearances. Muriel Eccles was a dream. Effects included music underneath the dialogue and an effective dream scene with voice-overs. Set was basic and well lit. Well directed by Joan McCann, this was, for me, an interesting night.

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MEMORY OF WATER
By Shelagh Stephenson - Directed by Paul Mason

An unusual piece billed as a 'touching and highly entertaining comedy", Shelagh Stephenson's play was very sensitively directed by Paul Mason. Set in a house on the Whitby coast, which is slowly failing into the sea, the drama explores the emotions, motives and relationships of three sisters on the eve of their Mother's funeral. All have memories of their early life and their dominant Mother, and all have their own emotional baggage and secrets in tow.

Jean Jones gave a particularly strong performance as Viv, the complex character who was their Mother. Portrayed as a "ghost" Jean aged as the appearances progressed in time and this was very effectively done. The daughters were well played by Anita Shaw-the emotionally stressed out Teresa; Jacqui Mooney - the clever Mary who springs perhaps the biggest surprise of the plot; and Kate Roberts - perfectly cast as the scatty and seemingly shallow Catherine forever seeking solace in shopping and sex. All gave well-observed and well-delivered performances and worked well together. David Batterby, playing Teresa's husband, gave a very well measured performance, as did Rob Trethewey as Mary's married lover Mike. Staged at the Club's "temporary" home - Darwen Library Theatre - the production team gave the actors and excellent set to play on, effectively lit by Mark Duxbury. The Props. Dept., Margaret Nolan and Liz Fisher, had worked tirelessly especially collecting all the clothes, which played a significant part in Scene 2 of Act 2. Attention to detail reaps its rewards! A poignant, thought provoking play sensitively performed.

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CASH ON DELIVERY
By Michael Cooney - Directed by Jean Jones

This was the Club's first production away from their traditional "home venue" of Blackburn College, and for their debut into Darwen Library Theatre they chose the hilarious Michael Cooney farce. A comedy, which zips along at break neck speed and with so many twists it leaves you breathless Jean Jones' production was excellent in every way. It was great entertainment and must have won over many new followers for this hard working group. The programme synopsis sums the play up beautifully - "Eric Swan has pocketed thousands of pounds through fraudulent DSS claims, so when lodger Norman opens the door to the DSS Inspector deceptive mayhem ensues! A riotous farce involving an undertaker, a bereavement counselor, a psychiatrist, Norman's fiancée, a corpse, the ominous Ms Cowper and a rather rebellious washing machine!" Dave Batterby played Eric to perfection and Clive Stack was outstanding as Norman. Two comedy performances completely in tune. Brian Whittaker's interpretation of Mr Jenkins the Inspector contained superb comedy timing and delighted the large audience. Alison Bell was well cast as Norman's unsuspecting and long-suffering wife and Bill Walker gave an hilarious portrayal of Uncle George, another of Eric's partners in crime. Kate Roberts playing the bereavement counselor showed just the right degree of sympathy, frustration and disbelief, while Paul Mason was incredibly funny as the undertaker. We had a wonderfully camp Psychiatrist from Eric Nolan and newcomer to the group Barbara Robb impressed greatly as the formidable Ms Cowper. Anita Shaw completed the excellent cast as Norman's bemused girlfriend. Geoff Eccles' set stood up very well to the handling it received and stage manager Graham Haworth worked the set and the technicalities - especially the foaming washing machine! - very smoothly. Sound and lighting were good and the props added to the general authenticity of this production. A good laugh and a great night out.

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THE HERBAL BED
By Peter Whelan - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

What a fascinating play this is. From the pen of Peter Whelan, who is perhaps better known for his Accrington Pals drama, it relates the lives and times of John Hall, a medical practitioner in the Stratford upon Avon of Jacobean England and his wife Susanna who is also William Shakespeare's daughter. At the core of the play is the temptation to cover up private indiscretions for the sake of public position, and the trouble caused "when first you practice to deceive". Some fine performances were on display, sensitively directed by Dorothy Perkins. Anita Shaw as particularly effective as Susanna. She went from quiet respectable wife and mother to smouldering lover with consummate ease and her performance showed plenty of nervous energy bubbling under the surface. Paul Mason played her solid respectable puritanical husband very well, and his portrayal made Susanna's wandering from the marital bed very believable. Steven Derbyshire was on top form as Jack Lane, Hall's "apprentice" who is over bold, over sexed and devious - a slick performance. Playing Susanna's would-be lover Rafe the Haberdasher, was Clive Stack also on top form and turning in a sensitive, well studied performance. Shelagh Turner was well cast as Hester the maidservant, and her sense of comedy timing was excellent. We saw an outstanding performance from Michael Eccles as the Vicar General to the Bishop of Worcester. Mannerisms, facial expressions and impeccable delivery of superb dialogue made his a performance to remember. The diffident Bishop of Worcester was well played by Eric Nolan.

The Ecclesiastical Court scene set in Worcester Cathedral was extremely well staged and delivered. The tension was subtly created and sustained by fine acting. Making up the cast were young Helen and Jane Keegan who played the Hall's daughter Elizabeth on alternate performances. Always a shadowy figure off-stage is that master dramatist - Shakespeare. He never appears, but the audience are drawn on to believe he might - the ploy of another master dramatist Peter Whelan! Superb sets from Geoff Eccles and club members, painted with great flare by Michael Waters, was well worked by Graham Haworth. The props department (Margaret Nolan, Liz Fisher and Joan McCann) are to be congratulated on providing a fascinating collection of period medical paraphernalia and other authentic items, which added to the authentic look of the piece. Authentic costumes from Jean Jones also added greatly to the atmosphere. The set was particularly well lit by John Barrett and Mark Duxbury and sound from Andrew Smith was always appropriate. The last production by the Club at Blackburn College Theatre, The Herbal Bed sent them off to pastures new on a very high note!

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THE CHALK GARDEN
By Enid Bagnold - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

An unusual and riveting drama, Enid Bagnold's play of failed relationships, was sensitively directed by Dorothy Perkins. Set in the home of Mrs St Maughan, the play centres round the eccentric matriarch, her wayward Granddaughter, her strange manservant, her unyielding garden and the mysterious Mrs. Madrigal. The huge and complex role of Mrs. St. Maughan was taken with tremendous skill by Joan McCann, who sailed through the action with effortless ease and richly deserved the applause she received at the final curtain - stunning performance!

Equally engaging was Elizabeth Wood who turned out a natural and flawless performance as Laurel the granddaughter who is a severe trail to the whole household. Michael Eccles was well cast as the manservant, Maitland, who is the butler and nursemaid and who sports a fierce temperament and makes some wonderful observations.

Into this dysfunctional household comes Mrs. Madrigal in response to an advertisement for a Governess for Laurel, and she brings a semblance of order into the lives around her. But what is her background and will her behavior be accepted? Muriel Eccles played this role with nervous energy and great professionalism.

Into the household, too comes the Judge on his way to the local Assizes. An old family friend, he dispenses advise, kindness and humour to the gathering. Playing this role with great insight and natural talent was Brain Whittaker - a wonderfully sympathetic performance.

When Laurel's Mother, Olivia, arrives to reclaim her daughter, tensions between mother, daughter and granddaughter are heightened and Jacque Mooney played this role with confidence. The cast was completed by Anita Shaw and Isobel Barret as the unsuccessful applicants for the Governess, post, and Tanya Magell as the nurse in charge of the welfare of the former butler-who would appear to responsible for many of the problems experienced in the "chalk" garden. Never seen this character plays a big part in the tensions of the play. The play was presented against a very well designed set from Geoff Eccles

with garden backdrop by Mike Waters and worked flawlessly by Graham Haworth. Sound from Andrew Smith and Rob Trethewey was excellent as was John Barrett and Mark Duxbury's lighting. The set was furnished and dressed very well and had the opulent feel of an upper middle class household. Written in 1956 this play has not dated very much in its essential themes and certainly has the ability to keep the audience's attention throughout. Well done!

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WILDEST DREAMS
By Alan Ayckbourne - Directed by Joan McCann

Joan McCann was certainly given a baptism of fire with this her first venture into direction for the Club. Wildest Dreams is Ayckbourne at his torturous best - complex characters, complex sets, complex sub plot. The Drama Club upheld their high standards and gave the audience a highly entertaining evening, while managing to bring them up short and "think". Ayckbourne is never superficial and the cast interpreted their varied roles well.

The play centres around a group of mismatched people who meet each week to play a game of make-believe involving characters from an alien world.

Paul Mason and Shelagh Turner, two excellent interpreters of Ayckbourne, played Stanley and Hazel lnchbridge who host the "game" and in it play Alric and Idonia. Young Mark Duxbury, playing Warren a computer buff who is convinced he is an alien, gave a strong performance. Austin Skate, Hazel's brother, who forms a ménage a trios with them was well played by Clive Stack - you really hated him! The fourth game player is the repressed Rick Toiler sensitively played by Suzanne Nolan.

Anita Shaw played Marcie Rick's work and flat mate, who joins the game with far reaching consequences for everyone. This character had a very wide range of emotions to portray and Anita did this confidently. We never saw Warren's Mother, but she left a big impression as played by Dorothy Perkin's disembodied voice! Steven Derbyshire was excellent as Marcie's brutish husband.

The sexual undercurrents in all the relationships were well sustained and the play's tensions came over sharply. The action takes place in the Inchbridge's front room, Warren's attic bedroom and Rick's basement, and the excellent set designed by Geoff Eccles and built and managed by Graham Haworth and his team, worked very well.

Good area lighting from John Barrett and Rob Trethewey and sound by Andrew Smith, helped to move the play from situation to situation seamlessly, and sets well dressed by Jean Jones and Sandria Pickering.

Wildest Dreams is a must for true Ayckbourne fans!

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BOUNCERS
By John Godber - Directed by Wayne Avanson

A sharp production by Wayne Avanson of John Godber's tale of suburban night life made for an entertaining, if not uplifting, evening. The cast of four were excellent, with Steven Derbyshire, David Batterby, Clive Stack and Rob Trethewy throwing themselves (often literally) into the roles of the Bouncers.

David Batterby in his first major role for the Club was a revelation as Lucky Eric the oldest Bouncer who is very disillusioned by his nightly encounters with the clubbers! His Maureen was well observed - and do lads really behave like his Baz? - I suppose some do! Steven Derbyshire's Ralph was smoothly mean and outrageously sexy - the glib DJ to perfection. His Suzy was hilariously funny. The versatile Clive Stack was flawless in his portrayal of the butch, over-sexed Judd, the yob from hell and the giggly drunken Elaine. The quartet of Bouncers was completed with Rob Trethewy as another over-sexed heavy, a raucous Kev and a delightful Rosie. All four actors gave perceptive performances and Wayne Avanson's directorial skills cut through this production like a knife - from the deceptively simple Geoff Eccles set, authentic sound from Andrew Smith, effective lighting from Harold Carter and Mark Duxbury, to the crisp performances of the four actors. He brought out the comedy and wit of the one-liners and made sure the pace never slowed to less than running speed.

Not a play for the faint hearted and it helps if you are broad-minded because this is an earthy script, which was given full justice by the Club.

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SHAKERS – RESTIRRED
By John Godber - Directed by Steven Derbyshire

A stunningly simple set and four enthralling performances made this production totally enjoyable theatre. Director Steven Derbyshire was fortunate in his choice of four experienced actresses who "motored" their way through a typical John Godber script.

The sharp, often caustic, dialogue was delivered with no small amount of relish by Kate Roberts, Anita Shaw, Jacqui Mooney and Shelagh Turner. The quartet worked well together, achieving the change in character (and often gender) flawlessly. All got under the skin of the waitress they played and took the audience with them through the ups and downs of a night in the life of a Cocktail Bar. This production did full justice to the Godber (and Thornton) script and the audience seemed happy with the night's entertainment.

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HOUSE GUEST
By Francis Durbridge - Directed by Jean Jones

This Francis Durbridge thriller, full of suspense and twists, was directed by Jean Jones who extracted some wonderful performances from a cast of varying experience and kept the tension flowing from opening to close. The play revolves around the kidnapping of the young son of film stars Robert and Stella Drury for what appears to be a very strange reason.

Clive Stack and Anita Shaw took these taxing roles in their stride and turned in two brilliantly sensitive performances. In one of the many twists in the play Clive also played his "double" and this was very very well done with subtle changes to his appearance and manner. The odd assortment of police and secret service-type personnel were well played by Lord Odin, Terry Pickering and Rob Trethewey and they really kept you guessing as to who and what they were - good suspenseful performances. Other people who were not all they seemed to be were equally well played by Adele Turner, Jacquie Mooney and Vic Talecks, while we had a delightful cameo from Joan McCann as a deliciously dippy Dorothy Medway.

Suspenseful entertainment! An excellent set design from Geoff Eccles, managed well by Graham Haworth with lighting from John Barrett and Alex Craig and props from Margaret Nolan and David Batterby all contributed to a good night's theatre.

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JOURNEY'S END
By R. C. Sherriff - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

Dorothy Perkins' production of R. C. Sherriff's classic First World War drama was all that could be asked for. Playing in early November, it was well timed to coincide with national Armistice and Remembrance Day events, and the audiences would surely go home with food for thought. The experienced all male cast sustained the tensions of life in the trenches, and there were thoughtful performances from Eric Nolan as Osborne the older, wiser officer; Wayne Avanson and Rob Trethewey the sharply contrasting Lieutenants Trotter and Hibbert; David Batterby a bright breezy Sergeant Major; Terry Pickering the Colonel and Michael Holt Lance Corporal Broughton. Brian Whittaker was on top form playing Captain Hardy whose tour of duty in the trenches ends as the play opens. Private Mason - the stoical cook - was brilliantly played by Clive Stack, his characters' humour creating the much-needed lighter moments in this piece. The drama revolves around Captain Stanhope and 2nd Lieutenant Raleigh, and the experienced Steven Derbyshire and Drama Club newcomer Mark Duxbury were both excellent in their respective roles. Mark capturing all the naivety and hero worship of an impressionable young boy (and boy he surely was at 18) and the war weary Captain intent on doing his duty at the expense of his health and sanity. There was a refreshing performance from another newcomer to the Club - Simon Tompkins - as the captured German soldier. The heightening tension as the raid and then the attack drew nearer was well sustained by the actors, making the final awful outcome more shocking. The play was performed against a superb set from Geoff Eccles and Mike Waters, and the complex sound and lighting plots were very well done by Andrew Smith, Vicki Gillibrand, John Barret and Alex Craig. Props too were authentic and the whole production was excellent theatre - well done.

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THE ANNIVERSARY
By Bill MacIlwraith - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

Dorothy Perkins' production of Bill MacIlwraith's truly black comedy made riveting theatre, and flawless performances from a strong cast directed with perception were justly rewarded by enthusiastic applause from the first night audience. One word sums up Muriel Eccles' performance as the all-consuming, excessively possessive, Mother - amazing! She carried all before her as the three acts unraveled and more bile, spite and unhappiness were unleashed onto her dysfunctional family. Her insistence that the family gather each year for the bizarre annual anniversary celebrations when father is actually dead gives the first clue to her extraordinary character. Her three sons all react to her far-from-motherly behaviour in different ways and the three very different performances from Michael Eccles (the bachelor son striving to get away from a clasping Mother), Clive Stack (the married son striving to escape with his family to the other side of the world); and Paul Mason (the son who loves to dress in women's underwear); were all highly commendable and compellingly believable. Kay Melia's performance as Karen, the daughter-in-law who is locked in constant battle with Mother, was excellent. Anita Shaw - playing the girl friend who is unsuspectingly thrust into the midst of family conflict - caught the mood of the character wonderfully well. Geoff Eccles' set was, as always, effective with good lighting and sound. The tension created by the well written script was kept going from first to last minute of this production and it would surely give the audience something to think about and talk about on the way home! An excellent production of a compelling play.

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CONFUSIONS
By Alan Ayckbourn - Directed by Paul Mason

Five short and pithy Ayckbourn "playlets" gave six drama club members plenty of scope for expanding and exploring a variety of roles. They took up the challenges offered and succeeded wonderfully well. Jacquie Mooney, Anita Shaw, Shelagh Turner, Steven Derbyshire, Terry Pickering and Brian Whittaker appeared as characters as varied as waiter, lecher, stay at home mum, girls about town, vicar, spinster of this parish, salesman, barman, cub leader, company director and local councilor, and managed by clever acting to make you forget their previous incarnations. All gave vintage performances directed with insight by Paul Mason. Each play was self-contained and extremely well constructed to tell the "whole story" in approximately twenty minutes. Five ingenious sets from Geoff Eccles and the Stage Team, well lit and dressed by John Barrett, Alex Craig and Joan McCann, helped with the smooth transitions between plays. This was Ayckbourn at his best and a good introduction to a writer who can often in full-length pieces be an acquired taste. Confusions whilst appearing to be a "snack" version of Ayckbourn turns out to be quite a substantial five-course meal. Well done.

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PRESENT FROM THE PAST
By Richard Everrett - Directed by Jean Jones

An intriguing play by Richard Everrett with pithy dialogue delivered by a strong cast directed by Jean Jones. The plot appears to be straightforward enough with three children gathering at the family home to "sort out" dead Mother's effects. But all is not what it seems and lately deceased Mother is at the core of the play. Rachel is the eldest daughter obsessed with her children and her camper van. She is a drab soul, only roused when an opportunity to climb out of her cash strapped existence is presented by the appearance of the mysterious David. Kay Melia certainly left her mark on this role, delivering the lines with understanding, pace and wit. Her husband, Colin, is happy with his lot, satisfied with the contents of the garden shed and taking on the role of pacifier when sibling rivalry gets out of hand. Playing him, Clive Stack turned in a wonderfully timed performance. Isobel Barrett pushed the action on as the successful, sexy bachelor woman of the world younger sister happy with her life style - or is she? Diffident son Howard was wonderfully played by Paul Mason. Howard, the son who grew up without a father, married a wife who now seems to be having a mid-life crisis and whose finances are not too healthy, is certainly a complex character and Paul got to the heart of it. Terry Pickering gave a studied performance as the mysterious David who arrives from the past to have a very definite bearing on the future of this "orphaned" family. To say more would be to give too much away! The set from Geoff Eccles worked by Steve Derbyshire and Team was divided into three areas and this worked well, helped by effective lighting from John Barrett and Alex Craig. Sound from Andrew Smith, James Barnett and Vicki Gillibrand and props from Joan McCann and Jacqui Mooney and Joan Woolmington's make up skills all contributed to this excellent production. The play has much to recommend it as had the Drama Club's presentation.

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TOUCH AND GO
By Derek Benfield - Directed by Paul Mason

A superbly written and crafted comedy by that master of farce, Derek Benfield, Touch and Go was well directed by Paul Mason. A brilliant comedy performance by Clive Stack, very ably supported by Rob Trethewy, as the two erring husbands, ensured the audience an hilarious night out. Their timing was superb and would not have disgraced the professional stage. A well-studied performance by Suzanne Nolan as Wendy, the girlfriend who managed to look innocent while causing mayhem, kept the piece moving at a rapid pace. Jacqui Mooney, playing a not-so-innocent wife, handled the role well and Anita Shaw was well cast as the wife who proves that husbands aren't the only ones who can "stray".

The imaginative set from Geoff Eccles was worked smoothly by Steven Derbyshire and his Team. Lighting from John Barrett and Alex Craig was entirely appropriate and the props department of Shelagh Turner and Lynne Barton did an excellent job. The Group are to be congratulated on bringing this standard of comedy theatre to Blackburn, and the audience was appreciative and sufficiently large the night I attended to indicate that the Drama Club's new marketing strategy is paying off. Don't forget though, marketing can't work if the product is bad. Touch and Go was a very good product and set a high standard for the Club's coming season.

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WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?
By ******* - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

The audience's silent, subdued exit after the play ended said it all about this powerful play and the casts' interpretation of it. Once again Dorothy Perkins had drawn wonderfully rounded performances from all the cast and they each in their own particular role made this a very complete production. The attention to detail paid off with the clever set from Geoff Eccles and Rob Trethewey dressed extremely well by Joan McCann and Lynne Barton. The clinical atmosphere was created by this attention to detail and medical protocol. Dealing as it does with the delicate situation of the terminally ill or incapacitated, the play by Brian Clark deals in depth with the struggle of the paralysed Kenneth as he fights for the right to be allowed to die, and the equally strong struggle of his doctors to keep him alive. Playing the patient we saw a very special performance from Steven Derbyshire - so convincing that you felt all his frustrations and anger and sympathised with his dry wit. An equally strong performance came from Terry Pickering as the consultant who, having brought his patient back from the brink of death, strives to keep him alive in whatever condition that may take. Jean Jones and Anita Shaw played the attentive nursing staff who strive with varying degrees of success to remain detached. Shelagh Turner played the doctor who is in danger of becoming too emotionally involved and Michael Holt, the laid-back ward aid who helps Ken by not pitying him. Wonderful cameo roles came from Brian Whittaker, the patient's solicitor, Wayne Avanson his barrister and Paul Mason the Judge with an unenviable decision to make. The strong cast was completed by Muriel Eccles, Rob Trethewey, Joan McCann and Eric Nolan all of whom helped to make this a very thought provoking play. Perhaps the subject matter of the play would not be described as "entertaining", but the Drama Club's handling of the piece did make it an extremely good piece of theatre.

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RACING DEMON
By David Hare - Directed by Jean Jones

David Hare's play Racing Demon is excellent theatre and Jean Jones' production did it justice. She was very well served by a strong, intelligent cast. The piece is full of riveting characters who need strong, sensitive actors to portray them, and this the Drama Club achieved with a collection of experienced and talented players. The cast includes TEN men, and it is surely no mean feat these days for a Society to field this number of males who can act!

The play centres around a city parish where the Vicar and Curate have vastly different approaches to their Anglican religion and their flock. Their Bishop, a somewhat bigoted man much averse to women clergy, and various other churchmen pass across the stage, offering advice and ordering the unfortunate Vicar around.

Paul Mason was a quietly strong Lionel, the said unfortunate Vicar, and Michael Eccles gave a riveting performance as Tony the Curate who has such high principals you just know he is doomed to failure. Terry Pickering was perfect as the bigoted Bishop, with Brian Healey presenting a flawless performance as the Rt. Rev. Hefferman trying unsuccessfully to calm the troubled waters. Clive Stack and Rob Trethewey both turned in fine performances as clergymen who both have their own crosses to bear.

There were three females in the piece, and Kay Melia was excellent as Frances Parnell, the Curate's girlfriend, who has relatives in high places - a very good assured and relaxed performance. Joan McGann, playing the neglected, weary Vicar's wife, was most convincing, while Sheila Turner, playing one of Lionel Espy's problem parishioners, gave the part depth. George Lever played the homosexual companion of the Rev. Harry with Michael Bolton a pushy gutter press journalist.

The imaginative set, from Geoff Eccles and Steve Derbyshire, incorporated some wonderful effects - the stained glass window in particular was most effective. Good lighting, sound and a well dressed set also helped with atmosphere. No expense had been spared to dress the Bishops in correct vestments and this added much to the look of the play.

The many twists in the plot were well managed and ensured our involvement in the lives and trials of all the characters. The Club were expecting a party from Blackburn Cathedral to see the play and it would have been interesting to hear their reaction to it, for David Hare pulls no punches in this piece.

Good theatre, but don't attempt it if you don't have access to plenty of male talent, for that would sell this play short and that would indeed be sacrilege!

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BILLY LIAR
By Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse - Directed by Paul Mason

New Director, Paul Mason, had improved greatly since his last production for the Club and gave us a workmanlike Billy Liar. He was very well served by a brilliant Billy in Steven Derbyshire, who got everything out of the role put there by two of our most observant playwrights - Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse. He was funny, sad, outrageous, good and bad in quick succession, and never put a foot wrong. Joan McCann's performance as Grandma was so well observed and acted it was fascinating to watch. Terry Pickering was a towering, shouting Father and Jean Jones a long-suffering Mother. The three girls in Billy's life - Barbara, Rita and Liz, were played by Tanya Magell, Kay Melia and Jacqui Mooney. Of the three, Kay Melia had done her homework and turned in a sharp, feisty performance as the loud mouthed, bottom-wiggling Rita. Tanya was nearly there as the dowdy, orange eating Barbara, and perhaps by the end of the run she would have enlarged her mannerisms - maybe whole oranges would have helped! Jacqui I felt played Liz with a little too much reticence. Liz after all HAS escaped (several times) from the drab town in which they all live, and as an extension of Billy's dreams, she could have been more positive and persuasive - making Billy's final creeping back to the bosom of his family all the more poignant. He couldn't escape in the end, but you knew that Liz would be on that train and off the London anyway and that Billy would always be a home with his dreams and lies. Guy Howard made up the cast playing Arthur well. Staging was good and the set was well designed to take in both the stage and floor areas of the College Theatre. It was well lit and very well dressed by Sheila Turner and Beverley Nixon - much attention to detail. This play, although very much a product of the early 60's, ever loses its appeal. Audiences can still identify with a family emerging from the post war period into the light of a more prosperous Britain and this production by the Drama Club was a faithful and successful one.

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PACK OF LIES
By *** - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

This is a compulsive play to watch and Dorothy Perkins' production for the Drama Club had all the necessary tension running through it. There were smooth confident performances from all the players, and the imaginative set added to the feeling of drama. PACK OF LIES is based on a true story from the 1960's when the Russian spies Helen and Peter Kroger were investigated and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for spying. The play unravels the period immediately prior to their arrest, when MI5 kept surveillance on them assisted (albeit unwillingly) by their neighbours and friends the Jacksons. Clive Stack and Muriel Eccles were perfectly cast as the Jacksons, both giving excellent performances as did Beverley Nixon playing their teenage daughter. There were well thought through performances from Jean Jones and Paul Mason as the spies. Brian Whittaker was a smooth, sinister MI5 chief, and Kay Melia and Jacqui Mooney turned in workmanlike performances as the MI5 surveillance team. Excellent lighting and well-dressed sets all contributed to make this a very good production of a tension filled play.

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HAPPY FAMILIES
By John Godber - Directed by Michael Bolton

John Godber's play about a working class family coping with change and the generation gap, is full. of good dialogue and wonderfully drawn characters. Steven Derbyshire was well cast in the roles of the hapless John around whom the plays revolve He graduated from short-panted schoolboy, through rebellious adolescence to even more rebellious manhood with ease. Keith Deller gave a very assured performance as his Father-, and Donald Smith turned in a vintage performance as his Grandfather Jack. Isobel Barrett, who was originally cast as John 's Mother, was taken ill only weeks before the plays went on and Director Michael Bolton, must have thanked his lucky stars that and actress of Muriel Eccles' calibre stepped into the breach, This was a driving and sympathetic performance and one which made the plays all the richer. On the occasions when she did refer to a well-disguised script, she did so in such a way that it. was only apparent to the most eagle-eyed observer (me!).

Jean ones was a very posh Aunt Edna with Tanya Magell her daughter. Shelagh Turner was perhaps not quite coarse enough as Aunts Doris, and I was unsure about Aileen Smith's interpretation of Grandma. Perhaps the set could have been more contained as it gave the feeling of too much space - not the cosy cluttered living room a family of this class would have had. I also felt. that more use could have been made of the Stage proper - perhaps the garden could have been set there to eliminate the "flat" feeling the set tended to have. Michael Bolton is a relative newcomer to producing and this plays showed potential.

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HABEAS CORPUS
By Alan Bennett - Directed by Jean Jones

Alan Bennett's wry, dry humour was brought out wonderfully well by Jean Jones' direction and the experienced cast. The whole was held together by Brian Whittaker who played the pivotal role of Dr. Wicksteed, while Muriel Eccles, as his wife, swept through the piece with consummate ease and good timing. Their hypochondriac son was delightfully played by Michael Eccles. There were some very well observed mannerisms in this performance.

Keith Deller was the very caricature of an Anglican clergyman, unmarried, frustrated, delighting in everyone else's sexual deviations and gleefully seizing on any "naughty" bits. (Often, quite literally!!)

Steven Derbyshire probably had the best part in the play, the false boob salesman, - and how he milked it - a very funny performance. Isobel Barrett, as the recipient of the said false boobs and Canon Throbbing's unwelcome attentions, threw herself into the part with abandon. Kay Melia was an extremely pert Felicity, whilst Sarah Bolton played her starchy Mother whose secret is revealed in the final part of the play. Heather Metcalfe as the narrator/cleaner Mrs Swabb, whose asides are so much a part of this play, was excellent. Clive Slack played the overbearing, pompous Sir Percy Shorter and John Chamberlain had the wonderful cameo role of Mr Purdue, who tries so hard, but does not succeed, to commit suicide by hanging.

The set was basic but effective and with good lighting. Altogether, a very amusing evening.

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A TASTE OF HONEY
By **** - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

Flawless performances from Muriel Eccles and Kay Melia made this a very watchable play. As the pushy, brash Helen, Muriel Eccles excelled. She drove the action along with skill. She brought out all the unlovable, and loveable, traits in the Mother's character very well. Kay, as her daughter Jo, had the right amount of awkwardness, rebellion and sadness of a girl who wants to escape from her miserable dead-end life in a grotty, Salford bedsit, but who cannot escape the situation in which she finds herself.

Steven Derbyshire gave an excellent performance as Peter, Helen's friend. A distasteful character who you mistrust and loathe immediately he enters the action. Steven gave the character life and credibility. Michael Eccles gave a sensitive performance as Geoffrey who tries so hard to bring light and cheer and love into Jo's life, but cannot succeed because of their basic character differences. Sushil Chaudusama, as the boy responsible for Jo's plight, could have been more animated, but this was his first role. With good direction he will, no doubt, improve.

The set, from Geoff Eccles and team, was good - with effective lighting and much attention to props and costumes.

I am not a fan of "kitchen sink" dramas but this was such a creditable effort I was nearly converted. Another successful production for Dorothy Perkins.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
By Oscar Wilde - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

What a polished production this was, well cast and directed by Dorothy Perkins. The audience was also treated to the plush, new, racked seating and catering facilities at the Blackburn College Theatre. These facilities and the new high-tech lighting and sound systems will benefit both the club and its audience. A simple but effective set was well worked, lit and dressed and the costumes were excellent/ Steven Derbyshire and Wayne Avenson as John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff were the perfect foil for each other and got a surprising amount of comedy (often visual) out of the roles. Muriel Eccles was a wonderful Lady Bracknell, turning in a sure fire performance and avoiding the pitfalls this part can attract. Cecily was played with a delightfully “earnest” touch by Kay Melia; Cathy Hunt was exactly right as Gwendolyn. Sarah Bolton gave a good performance as Miss Prism while Donald Smith’s Dr. Chasuble was delightful. Lane was played with stuffy correctness by Clive Stack and Merriman by Michael Eccles.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening - well done, everyone.

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BREEZEBLOCK PARK
By Willy Russell - Directed by Steven Derbyshire

This was Blackburn Drama Club's 200th production and was directed by Steven Derbyshire. It was certainly different from its first play, Gaslight, in 1944. A strong cast had been gathered to play out one of Willy Russell's lesser known plays. The story line is strong and, as always with this author, the dialogue is pithy and ripe. Set at Christmas time and featuring a family were two sisters try to keep up with and out-do each other, we saw strong performances from Janet Tompkins and Jean Jones as the sisters and Michael Bolton and Keith Deller their husbands. Dave Rainford, as the wimpish tranquilliser addicted son, gave a very well thought through and sympathetic performance. Brother-in-law Tommy and his wife were played by Brian Healey and Elizabeth Barrett. Brian's performance, I felt, was a little over-the-top but Isobel was the suitably gullible, easily pleased, working-class wife. Suzanne Nolan played the pregnant daughter who causes so much consternation and Guy Howard her upper-class boy friend. The Club has so many competent actors and technicians on hand it should go on for another 200 shows - at least!

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BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
By Jeffrey Archer - Directed by Dorothy Perkins

This is an extremely well structured play by Jeffrey Archer, and Dorothy Perkins' production did it full justice. Not just a courtroom drama but a touching insight into a deeply committed marriage situation, it calls on the actors to show great depth of feeling, and this they did. Bill Walker, as the famous defence lawyer who finds he has to defend himself against a murder charge, gave a wonderfully studied performance, and his quotations from Dylan Thomas were enchanting. Jennifer Proctor, as his wife suffering from terminal cancer, was exactly right, and the rapport between the two of them was particularly good. Donald Smith gave an excellently observed performance as the elderly family solicitor, while jean Jones, as the housekeeper turned accuser and chief prosecution witness, delivered her lines with sureness of purpose. The prosecuting counsel, played by Terry Pickering, was menacingly good, showing great command of the part. The trial judge was played by Brian Whittaker and the family doctor by Tom Smith, with Jon Chamberlain, Clive Stack, Dave Rainford, Geoff Eccles, Kay Melia, Keith Deller and Roz Myers completing the strong cast. The two sets were up to the Drama Club's usual high standard, well lit and with excellent incidental music. A thought-provoking evening.

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THE CRUCIBLE
By Arthur Miller - Directed by Bert Metcalf

There were some very strong performances in this production by Bert Metcalf of the Arthur Miller play. With good staging by Geoff Eccles and his team, sympathetic sound worked by Andrew Smith and excellent lighting from John Barrett, we were treated to an evening of compelling amateur theatre.

Special mention must go to Steven Derbyshire as the quiet, guilt-ridden, basically good Christian, John Proctor, torn between lies and truth - a compelling performance. Kay Melia as Abigail was quite hateful as was Clive Stack as the autocratic Governor Danford. Brian Whittaker as John Hale, the small voice of reason, brought all his considerable talent to the role. We had a delightful performance from Donald Smith as the ageing and wily Giles Corey. It was a great pity - and must have been a great distraction to the people on stage - that during Acts 3 and 4, many of the students in the audience had a great desire to "go walkabout". As no teachers were in evidence, perhaps better stewarding by the Society could have avoided what were regrettable and distracting intrusions into an otherwise superb evening's dramatic entertainment.

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ABIGAIL'S PARTY
By Mike Leigh - Directed by Tom Kinder

Well directed by Tom Kinder, this was an excellent vehicle in which to show off this talented cast: not one fluffed line or missed cue in this wordy, and often complex, comedy-drama. Jennifer Martin as Beverley, and Isobel Barrett's Angela, had all the best lines and they both turned in assured, flowing performances. Jean Jones as Abigail's mother gave a studied portrayal of a parent with an anxiety complex. Andrew Smith as her husband was the typical suburban high-flyer, in stark contrast to Andrew Bell's Tony, who was a wonderful, beer-swilling plodder. The company had changed venue to the Windsor Suite in King George's Hall for this, their last, production of the season. For audience facilities and atmosphere this was a vast improvement on the College Theatre where they usually perform.

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