By Frank Vickery
12-15 September 2018
Directed by Michael Ayres
“A summer evening’s barbecue with a few friends in a leafy part of Surrey. A pleasant few hours of small talk, laughter and friendly conversation. An idyllic scenario. Yet not in the world of Frank Vickery’s Trivial Pursuits where the underhand maneuvering, petty intrigue, and egos of a small Amateur Dramatic society are hilariously laid bare over two hours.
The director Michael Ayres (also on stage relishing the part of the society’s camp luvvie, Teddy), gathered a group of experienced and talented actors to produce this comedy on The Nomads’ small Studio stage. The restricted space meant the short conversational encounters between the characters could be better handled than in the larger auditorium.
Nick, played confidently by Stuart Tomkins, is the director of the fictional Ockham Operatic Society and the annual barbecue is where he announces the next season’s show. The fact that he cannot get the barbecue to light gives the audience a clue as to the way the evening is going to go – badly!
The first act skilfully established the characters and the fraught situation. What show would Nick announce? Could he be influenced by blackmail, bribery or other means into putting on a favourite of any one of four of the group?
Roz, Nick’s organised and down to earth wife holds the group together in an unflappable way until she realises Nick has been using his directorial influence too intimately with the company’s youngest female recruit. Played by Cheryl Chamberlain, recently seen in Love Me Slender, this was another strong performance. Her sister Joyce, once talented but now a bit of a lush, was played with clear enjoyment by a new Nomad, Fiona Whitehead.
The humourless Mona was wonderfully played as a bit of a diva by Juliana Anderiesz, appearing for the first time on the Nomad stage. The part of the society’s treasurer who knows the truth of the dire financial situation the company is in was ably realised by Elaine Burns whilst the part of the depressive Derek was played as an emotional weakling by Paul Asher. His (soon to be ex), wife Deidre was acted with evident delight in the part by the ever-reliable Moyra Brookes and in the exchanges between her and the pathetic Derek we saw all the impatience of an exasperated wife. Deidre’s escort for the evening, the television obsessed Eddie was played superbly by Iain Macfarlane obviously enjoying the potential for humour in the character.
In the role of the not-quite ingenue Jessica was Alannah Winn-Taylor, a young veteran of the Nomads. She played the part with spark and energy.
Due in no small part to Frank Vickery’s script there were gales of laughter from the audience throughout the show. It ought to be noted that laughs only come off the page when there is an experienced cast who know where the laughs are and how to maintain the pace to maximise impact.
Well done to all the actors.
Movement around the small set was fluid, and no-one bumped into the furniture or each other. The programme tells me the ‘Tuesday Crew’ was responsible for the set design and build. Whoever and how many they are, they did a first-rate job of constructing a small suburban garden. Plaudits are due also to the lighting crew who created the evening light ambiance and to the wardrobe mistress who dressed the cast in clothes reminiscent of that carefree decade of thirty-some years ago.”
Saturday 27th October, 7:45 pm
You’re invited to our two Variety Nights; Friday 12th and Saturday 13th October we’ll be hosting two evenings full of music and magic, excitement and enjoyment!
All tickets just £10
Presenting your Variety Night ‘pick n mix’ line-up:
Friday 12 October at 7:30 pm
The Downsmen – an exciting barbershop group who were very well received at a previous Nomads event, and are often to be found performing in the local Surrey Hills area.
Rogue Opera – brought to you by Bronwen who performed at Surrey Showcase to a full audience, prompting tears of emotion! They will be performing a mix of different types of arias and well-known pieces.
Close up Magic – featuring Colin Peters and Terry Lambert from the Surrey Society of Magicians
Saturday 13 October at 7:30 pm
Guildford Jazz Choir – an amazing choir with a different take on
many familiar pieces of music mostly performed a cappella and all original arrangements
Graham Russ – Surrey based singer-songwriter performing an original set of ballads, thinkers & anthems for the head and the heart.
Close up Magic -featuring Colin Peters and Terry Lambert from the Surrey Society of Magicians
All this wonderful and varied entertainment is perfect for the young and old alike!
Call the box office on 01483 284747 or Book Online
The Chalk Garden
By Enid Bagnold
Directed by Murray Stephens
Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th November at 7.45pm in the studio
Tickets: adults £12, children/students £10
A troubled teenage girl lives with her eccentric grandmother, Mrs. St. Maugham, in a big house in Sussex, with a Chalk Garden. When a new governess is hired, partly to keep Laurel’s mother from taking her back, the brittle calm of the household is shaken. Miss Madrigal has no past, and no references; but when Mrs. St Maugham’s old friend the Judge comes to lunch, secrets are revealed and illusions destroyed.
Enid Bagnold’s 1955 play deals with issues that are as relevant now as they were in the 50’s, renewing and rebuilding lives, and above all the need for love, and the need to move on.
It was first performed on Broadway, in 1955. It opened in London in 1956 with Edith Evans and Peggy Ashcroft, and was the most successful play that year, eclipsing both “Look Back in Anger” and “The Deep Blue Sea”. It won numerous awards in Britain and on Broadway, including rave reviews from Kenneth Tynan. It has been revived regularly. There was a run at the Donmar Theatre in 2008, with Margaret Tyzack (her last play) Penelope Wilton and Felicity Jones in her breakthrough role, and it is running at Chichester this year with Penelope Keith. It was also filmed in 1964 starring Edith
Evans, Deborah Carr, Hayley Mills and John Mills.
- For casting notes click here: www.nomadtheatre.com/casting-notes-the-chalk-garden