NODA review – “Hayfever” 22nd March 2016

Review author – Jon Fox, Noda

In true showbiz style Nomads brilliantly overcame, at least in performance, the dreadful blow of losing their inspirational and much loved director, Alan Wiseman, rather suddenly and barely a month before the performance. Jeff Wightwick, himself an experienced director stepped in under these awful circumstances and, as this review will reveal, both directors served up a special fare for the audience.

Aided by Elaine Burns, Alan’s partner, as production manager with a dedicated team backing them, Nomads did full justice to one of Coward’s most sparkling plays. Having, shamefully, seen this play only once before and that over 40 years ago, I was as excited as a child at Christmas upon arrival at this special and charming theatre.

The setting is the Bliss family’s country house at a summer weekend, where all four family members, separately, and unknown to the others, each invite a guest for the weekend. As the plot unravels each guest comes to regret accepting their own invitation and eventually conspire to escape, as discretely as they can, leaving the family on their own to comment “how very rude” some guests are.

Judith Bliss, a retired actress, is married to David, a novelist, and mother to two children Simon and Sorel. Judith is a peach of a role for an accomplished actress and Philippa Galloway gave this most theatrical of characters full reign to show her fine range of theatrical emotions. It was a classy performance, though somewhat marred by a number of prompts. However, to be fair, it was on the first night when I attended. I particularly liked her ludicrous over-reaction to her young admirer’s chaste kiss. Coward was a wonderful observer and chronicler of the foibles of others.

Nathan Farrell as that young admirer, besotted by Judith, endowed Sandy Tyrell with a deliciously stiff, oh so English, gaucheness. The bewilderment and passion behind the stiff facade though, came through beautifully.

As bickering sister and brother Sorel and Simon, Sarah Mullins and Daniel Shepherd were pure middle class delight. So right on and sophisticated! Each more so than the other, or so they think. This sibling relationship was as real as real could possibly be in the Bliss madhouse. Admirably acted!

Carol McGlone as Clara, a world weary housekeeper and former dresser to Judith gave a highly amusing cameo. Her half opening only of the front door and hurried disappearance to leave the befuddled guests, unwelcomed and left behind was a comic joy. This world weariness was an excellent foil to the theatricality of the family members.

Paul Asher, cast as David Bliss, the husband and father, seemed at first almost normal whilst deeply intent on finishing his latest novel. Bit by bit we became aware that he, too, was in his own way playing games and using his young guest, a most discomfitted young flapper, Jackie Coryton, played skilfully by Ellie Sayer with near hysteria upon being forced to play charades with the family and other guests. Both Paul and Ellie in their very different ways “suffered” wonderfully well and just when I thought Jackie was in distinct danger of being relatively normal, but happily, not so!

Moyra Brookes as the vampish older woman guest of Simon, Myra Arundel and caught kissing David by Judith, gave an assured performance of this marvellous character. She had some of the best lines and was well cast in this role, playing the vamp for all she was worth.

Richard Greatham, played by Graham Botterill was a diplomat invited by Sorel. Graham played the dumbfounded Richard who, upon kissing Judith, finds himself the victim of Judith’s acting game. I really felt sorry for poor old Richard, so cruelly used by the – shall we say unconventional – Judith.

There was a great deal to like in all the acting and though several cast members dried a time or two, the essential pace of the bizarre play and the truth of the characters shone through.

The set was a realistic portrayal of a comfortably furnished and well heeled family home belonging to theatrical folk. Coward’s marvellous words are of course a great advantage for any actor or actors worth their salt to speak. The cast took full advantage and made the play the great success it undoubtably was.

Jenny Hasted’s costumes were detailed, well fitted and most appropriate. Lighting by Tony and Dee Bowdery was handled with their usual skill.

Despite the unfortunate and difficult circumstances of Alan’s untimely passing, the company did him and Jeff proud. No wonder Nomads have such a good reputation in Mid-Surrey.

Jon Fox – Noda

The Nomads are members of NODA, which has a membership of 2500 amateur theatre groups and 3000 individual enthusiasts throughout the UK, staging musicals, operas, plays, concerts and pantomimes in a wide variety of performing venues, ranging from the country’s leading professional theatres to tiny village halls.

Review – Just So, Lost For Words Theatre Company – October 2015

Review author – Ben

The writers of ‘Just So’, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, have created a unique niche in British Theatre for a series of successful and entertaining musicals appealing to a mainly young cast and audiences with a string of successful award winning productions ’Honk’, ‘Mary Poppins’ , ‘Moll Flanders’ behind them. Lost For Words, an amateur Company established for only six years, have quickly established an excellent reputation (I was greatly impressed by their production of ‘Avenue Queue’ last year); once again, an enthusiastic audience was not disappointed. This adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s famous ‘Just So’ story of the Elephant Child and his ultimate triumph over the mischief creating Crab, Pau Amma, is a natural source for a kaleidoscopic presentation with a predominantly young cast of skilled and well trained performers. While few of the songs are ever likely to become classic ‘show tunes’, the piece provided many opportunities for the performers to display their acting, singing and dancing talents, the result providing a colourful, stimulating if not exactly enthralling panoply.

LFWTC Just So Review

Hannah Simpson as the Kalokola Bird

The cast of over 20, nearly all on the stage for most of the show, were quite superb either singing or dancing, solo or ensemble, with particular commendations to the experienced Tim Morley as the Eldest Magician, a true “Prospero”, master of all he surveyed, with special mention for the excellent voices of Hannah Simpson as the Kalokola Bird (complete with well manipulated puppet) and a newcomer to the Group, Adam Claydon in the pivotal role of the Elephant Child, and co-founder of the Group, Sean Lytle, with a cameo presentation as Parsee. Really, Lost for Words are brimming with talent. A special mention must be made of the impeccable, faultless band led by Harriet Oughton, well integrated choreography by Carla Fox and an ingenious collection of papier-mache props.

Director (and Co- Founder of ‘Lost for Words’), Katharine Williams, must be well satisfied with her production. If I have a criticism it was an excessive reliance on radio microphones which should not be needed in the compact but acoustically sound Nomad Theatre and some indistinct diction during spoken passages, not unnaturally when the Elephant Boy received his trunk. Nomads themselves played their parts in organisation of Front of House, Bar, Sound (Tim Williams and Clive Vinall) which, this time, was not allowed to overload us with a wall of sound, with Tony and Dee Bowdery’s impeccable lighting and the splendid costumes.

The programme, which could usefully have supplied a synopsis of the plot, stated “we hope you enjoy the ride”. We did! Come back again to the Nomad Theatre, Lost For Words—you will be welcome.

LFWTC Just So Review


NODA review: Cinderella, December 2015

NODA representative, Jon Fox, reviews the December 2015 production of Cinderella by The Nomads at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us).

The NOMADS pantomime – “Cinderella” by Peter Denyer

Nomad Theatre – December, 2015

“A company with several young principals has pros and cons from a director’s point of view. Young people bring enthusiasm, generally remember their lines, but many lack experience on stage. However, director Andrew Hamel-Cooke cast his company extremely well and the five teenage principals all showed talent.
Millie Franks excelled as Dandini and, though only 18, has dandini millie reviewbeen with Nomads since age 7 and seems born to be on stage, cockney accent and all! Her performance was a comic delight and she dominated every scene she was in – a star player indeed.
uglies reviewElla Kay as Mona and Lisa Arnold as Grizelda, the two uglies, were a wonderful team as the evil stepsisters. Despite being females of course they were truly awful to poor Cinderella and readily won boos. I much liked their comic touches and their costumes were way over the top and therefore most effective, though I felt Ella was a little too “pretty” for my taste – a wart or spots would have added ugliness!
Young Sheree Paton at only 16 was a good all rounder as Cinderella. She sang, moved and acted with talent and presence well beyond her tender years. She was goodness personified in real contrast to her evil stepsisters.cinderella review
New to the Nomads, 18 year old Robb Green was a most likeable, even endearing Buttons. His stage “vulnerability” effectively deflected his leading man looks, not a quality Buttons ever needs. Definite talent here. His efforts to fill in time while Cinders changed costumes will prove to be a valuable cinders review
Matthew Scanlan was most effective as Baron Hardup despite looking young. His wife Baroness Hardup was given a dominant and evil persona in a beautifully crafted performance by Vykki Mash, with quite marvellous diction and timing. She also looked too pretty though for this important role.
Sarah Wilson as Prince Charming did well too, though she was a little “girly” and I would have preferred more attack in the part.
A budding star is 13 year old Charlotte Cawley as the Fairy Godmother. She opened the Panto and her diction and timing were excellent.
Colin Barnard did well as the Chamberlain as did Hazel Eve as Swing.
The chorus sang and danced with enthusiasm and the very young “babes” were pretty with the “ahh” factor. Choreographer Alannah Winn-Taylor got the most from them and devised clever dance routines.
Musical director Charles Garland on keyboards with Katie Godsmark on drums gave all the necessary support and the music and singing generally were good.
The stage sets were most effectively designed, constructed and scene changes were swiftly handled by the in-house crew. The transformation scene as Cinderella was magically sent to the ball was especially effective. Lighting by Tony and Dee Bowdery worked splendidly.
cinders fairies review
I must commend the costumes and wigs which were a splendid array of bright panto colours with a gorgeous frock for Cinders at the ball and some outrageously OTT ones for Mona and Grizelda. Buttons, Fairy Godmother, Baroness, Prince Charming and Dandini too all looked really good. Jennie Hamel-Cooke, Elizabeth Cross, Kirsten Wiggins and Jay Forsyth – I salute you all!
In the highly experienced control of Andrew Hamel-Cooke as Director, many of the young performers will have learned much about pantomime. There is no substitute for being thrown into the deep end, as it were and I am pleased to report that all proved to be strong swimmers. Andrew’s traditional production with all the usual “business” contained all the vital necessary ingredients. The false leg is a well worn trick but was skilfully handled and the ghost scene, done most traditionally is always funny, if well timed, as here. The team spirit on stage, backstage and front of house was very evident. Panto is my favourite stage genre and this most enjoyable evening once again confirmed my own love of this uniquely British art form.”
John Fox

NODA District 19

The Nomads are members of NODA, which has a membership of 2500 amateur theatre groups and 3000 individual enthusiasts throughout the UK, staging musicals, operas, plays, concerts and pantomimes in a wide variety of performing venues, ranging from the country’s leading professional theatres to tiny village halls.