NODA Review – Alice In Wonderland

NODA review for The Nomads production of

Alice In Wonderland

Director: Graham Botterill
Musical Director: Stephen Fitton
Choreographer: Samantha Potten

This lively adaptation of Alice in Wonderland brought back wonderful childhood memories. Skilfully adapted, and peppered with jokes and original song lyrics, by Graham Botterill, it was great fun from start to finish.
The Nomads have their own ‘state of the art’ theatre with fly tower, revolving stage with two trap doors, and tiered seating. It’s modern, airy and comfortable. The new bar is spacious and is decorated with a multitude of posters of past productions. The audience for this show could partake of a special ‘Drink Me’ potion – with or without alcohol – which of course added to the fun, and was delicious!
The A4 programme sported a wonderful picture of the White Rabbit, good Directors’ Notes,
information on the Nomads and their youth group, the Nomes, a piece on NODA, and
comprehensive cast profiles.

Beautiful scenery, brightly lit to depict a sunny day, reminiscent of a Gertrude Jekyll herbaceous border, was provided by Lorraine Landon and Diane Skeel. We also had an impressive noble residence for the Duchess and a palace scene for the court case. Projections for a sea view and a woodland backdrop with mushrooms were fun. But the amazing video projections for the ‘falling down the rabbit hole’ scene, and the final tumbling cards, complete with the Red Queen’s face, were very impressive indeed. Philip James came up trumps there. Props were interesting too, from the astonishing ‘growing’ table in the Drink Me scene, to the flamingo croquet mallets, the maypole to the caterpillar’s hookah pipe. Lighting was good throughout.

Makeup was excellent, but the costumes were a delight to the eye. Lots of use was made of half
masks for the various creatures, which were very well done. The amazing creations for the
caterpillar, gryphon and mock turtle were fabulous. The Tea Party trio of March Hare, Mad Hatter and Dormouse were also very finely turned out. One should never underestimate the importance of inventive makeup and costumes in a performance such as this, they added greatly to audience enjoyment here.

This could be best described as a play with music. The music played a very important role, and was well chosen. The opener was Windmills of Your Mind, which seemed very appropriate for the opening scene with the Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit. Many of the lyrics were re-written to suit the play, eg Run Rabbit Run, and If You Go Out in the Wonderland, but some were original creations from the adaptor and director Graham Botterill, such as the Caterpillar Song. On the other hand, the Lobster Quadrille from the book was set to music. All very inventive, all caused a chuckle or two, and all put very well together by Musical Director Steve Fitton. Dancing accompanied the music on various occasions too, with good choreography by Samantha Potten. This was a well-crafted production and well thought out. Every little thing from the book was here and done in a masterful way, this I feel was quite a feat. The famous scene after Alice had fallen down the rabbit hole, where she found the Drink Me bottle was brilliant. I was wondering in advance how the Nomads would tackle the croquet scene, or the tea party, and was delighted by both.

The young people all acted, danced and sang, very well – a tribute to the good training they are
receiving with the Nomes, I assume. The whole ensemble was good. Daisy Wiggins, the Alice on the night we attended, was charming and played her role both with wide-eyed innocence, yet rising frustration as the perplexing story progressed. The White Rabbit (Alice Baron) was sparky and in good voice, especially for her ‘Dream the Impossible Dream’, which constituted the finale. The irascible and erudite Caterpillar was played to perfection by Steve Fitton, in his splendid costume, puffing away at his hookah pipe, giving out his sound advice to Alice in his fine song. The haughty Duchess (Hannah Jordan) and the cook (Samantha Potten) flounced or pranced about the stage, clutching the baby or the pepper pot respectively, shocking poor Alice, even more so when she saw that the baby had turned into a pig. What a bizarre imagination Lewis Carroll had! The madness continued of course as Alice came across the Tea Party, and met the very rude March Hare and Mad Hatter, with the ever sleepy Dormouse. Millie Littlewood played this little put-upon creature very well, and very amusingly. The partnership of John Want as the Hatter and Stuart Tomkins as the Hare was a great piece of casting, and these two excelled in their zany roles – they would make a fine comedy double act. This brought us nicely to the interval, where we were able to enjoy our ‘Drink Me’ cocktails.
The curtain rose onto the beautiful scene of the Red Queen’s garden, with 3 gardeners painting the white roses red, to the jolly tune of ‘Painting the Flowers with Sunshine’. The croquet scene was thrilling and intriguing with everybody milling about with their flamingo croquet mallets. Here, of course, we met the exceedingly frightening and totally bizarre Red Queen, played fiercely and convincingly by Moyra Brookes, together with her meek and mild husband the King, more about him later. First, the Queen got rid of the Duchess, then as the croquet game progressed, everybody else, with her cries of ‘Off with his/her/their head(s)!’ The Cheshire Cat (Sophie Johnstone), who was a clever video projection up in the tree, was a calming influence, as it reassured Alice that everyone in Wonderland was mad, including Alice!
The lugubrious Mock Turtle (Matthew Weaver) sported the most amazing costume and make-up, as did also the Gryphon (a second role for Steve Fitton), and they gave us a fine rendering of the Lobster Quadrille. Having been reassured in a way by the tearful Mock Turtle, Alice is nevertheless still totally confused as he talks about lessons getting ever shorter because they lessen. There follows finally the ever odder court scene, where Alice finds herself suddenly and bizarrely called to the witness box, having hoped that she might, at last, meet some logic and sense there.

Great performance throughout by Alice, as she dealt with all these frustrations and madnesses
throughout the play, mirroring the audience’s emotions. Puzzlement, rage, disbelief, exasperation, one felt for the girl! Murray Stephen, the King, gave a marvellous rendering of a specially written song ‘Monarch of the Wonderland’ to the tune of one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s patter songs, was it the one about the Modern Major General? Great fun!
Alice came to, awakening from her dream, in her own garden again, and we were treated to a grand finale with the White Rabbit’s brilliant ‘To Dream the Impossible Dream’, with the whole ensemble joining in.

A wonderful evening of joy, fun and cleverness (that last referring to the special effects, the
costumes, the songs, the casting). Graham Botterill not only wrote so much of it, including many of the song lyrics but made a great job of directing this somewhat complex undertaking. A man of many talents! And now I fully intend to reread Alice for the first time in about 60 years!

Pauline Surrey

Auditions – The Farndale Ave Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth

Director: Elaine Burns
Scheduled for: 17-21 May, 2022
  • Tuesday 16th November, 7:30 pm
  • Friday, 19th November, 7.30 pm
If you are intrigued please come along.  Don’t hesitate to ask me for information though.  If you would like to work backstage then you will be very welcome.
Elaine Burns
The play
This series of plays involve the gallant women of Farndale Ave trying to put on plays from all genres against the odds.  The odds being lack of money, skill and talent.
In Macbeth, they are performing as part of a drama festival and nearly run out of time to get to the end.
The characters
3 men and 6 women
George Peach – adjudicator.  He sits at the side of the stage throughout taking notes.  He also puts on makeup, does some basic magic tricks and wears a dress for his final scene.  Most of his lines are from his notes which he can refer to.
Henry, stage manager – he is forced to take over as Lady Macbeth, in a dress and wig.  He plays her quite well and knows all the lines.  There is a fair amount to learn ie several pages in one go.
Plummer, the producer – he is ineffectual and has several tantrums about the way things are going. He takes over as Macbeth, temporarily,  but with the book.
Mrs Reece, the Chairwoman – plays herself mostly, introduces Peach and runs the raffle but also plays Lady Macduff and the doctor
Thelma – always tries to dominate scenes, is in a feud with Henry and storms off at one point.  Plays Macbeth and Ross.  Must be able to handle the lines
Minnie – good-natured, plays Banquo and Lady Macduff’s son
Dawn –  older than the others, can’t see without her glasses, plays 1st witch, porter, 2nd murderer, Duncan, Fleance
Felicity – 2nd witch, Seyton, 1st murderer, Malcolm, Gentlewoman
Kate – is on crutches throughout and in a wheelchair at the end, 3rd witch, Macduff, messenger
The set is simple but there are lots of props and effects.  A few actors will have some chunks of Shakespeare to learn but no one has a long monologue.
If you are intrigued please come along.  Don’t hesitate to ask me for information though.  If you would like to work backstage then you will be very welcome.
Elaine Burns

Auditions – My Second Best Bed

My Second Best Bed by Barry Syder

Director: Moyra Brookes
Scheduled for: February 22nd – 26th 2022 at 7.30 pm.
Running time 40 minutes
  • Tuesday 26th October, 7:30 pm
  • Tuesday, November 2nd, 7.30 pm

If you would like to audition, cannot make the dates but are interested or would like more information please email me on [email protected], or please just turn up

Auditions for My Second Best Bed by Barry Syder, the second part of our February double bill, will be held at the Nomad Theatre on Tuesday 26th October and Tuesday 2 November at 7.30pm. This production will be staged in the main auditorium and will be directed by Moyra Brookes. The performance dates are 22-26 February 2022. The running time is about 40 mins.

The play

The play takes place in May 1616 in a room in “New Place” the home of William Shakespeare and his family in Stratford Upon Avon, three weeks after his death. The Curate has come to read the will! The sisters have a fiery relationship and explain to the curate the circumstances that shaped the way Shakespeare lived his life. In a poignant scene, the sisters finally reveal to the curate the reason behind the seemingly odd bequest of the second-best bed.


Susanna Hall: 34-44 Shakespeare’s eldest daughter, middle-aged housewife

Curate: 25-35 self-righteous church official, clerical mind with modern outlook (think Mr Collins in P&P and star-struck on celebs)

Judith: 32-42, the youngest daughter, bad-tempered. She runs the local tavern with her husband

Anne Hathaway: 60+ early onset of Dementia (very small part)

You can audition for both this and The Real Inspector Hound.

If you would like to audition, cannot make the dates but are interested or would like more information please email me on [email protected], or please just turn up

Auditions – The Real Inspector Hound

The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard

Director: Paul Asher

Scheduled for: February 22nd – 26th 2022  at 7.30 pm. Running time approx. 70 minutes.

Auditions: Tuesday, November 2nd, 7.30pm

If you are interested in auditioning, contact [email protected]  . . .   but you could just turn up at 7.30pm on the 2nd!

Please let the Director know if you can’t make the date and we’ll arrange a separate date/ time.

The play forms the first part of a two one-act play evening. Moyra will be directing ‘The Second Best Bed’ for the second half of the evening.

The play

The RIH is generally thought of as one of Stoppard’s funniest as well as being very enjoyable to play. The play-within-the-play is set in “Lady Muldoon’s country residence one morning in early spring”. During the play, the two theatre critics discuss things they may write about this typical whodunit, but they are often sidetracked by their soliloquies, Moon’s concerning his professional jealousy of Higgs and Birdboot’s concerning his newly found “love”, the actress playing Cynthia.


Please note that although the character of
Inspector Hound is referred to as ‘he’ in the play I am open to the part being played by a female actor.


Moon – a second-string theatre critic, called to the production to review it in the absence of Higgs, another critic. Playing age, 40+

Birdboot – a theatre critic and a womaniser, who catapults young actresses to stardom by delivering dazzling reviews in return, we assume, for sexual favours. Married to Myrtle, he is having an affair with the actress who plays Felicity in the play within the play. Playing age, 30+

Play-within-a-play characters

Mrs Drudge – The maid, or char, of Muldoon Manor. Cockney accent. Playing age, 50+

Simon Gascoyne – New to the neighbourhood, Simon has had affairs with both Felicity and Cynthia. Later in the play, Birdboot assumes the role of Simon Gascoyne, and vice versa. Playing age 30+/-

Felicity Cunningham – A beautiful, innocent, young friend of Cynthia’s who has had an affair with Simon and Birdboot. She is seemingly sweet and charming but soon seeks ruthless revenge. Playing age 25+

Cynthia Muldoon – Apparent widow of Lord Albert Muldoon who disappeared ten years ago. Sophisticated and beautiful. She has had an affair with Simon. Playing age 40+/-

Major Magnus Muldoon – Lord Albert Muldoon’s crippled half-brother who just arrived from Canada. Has a desire for his late brother’s widow, Cynthia. Takes an instant dislike to Simon, as they are both in love with Cynthia. Playing age 40+

Inspector Hound – Appears from outside the house in the middle of the play to investigate an alleged phone call. Moon assumes this role near the end of the play, and vice versa. Playing age. Anywhere from 40 ish to 60 ish.

* The following are referred to but do not appear:

Higgs – the senior critic, Moon is his stand-in.

Puckeridge – the third-string theatre critic, or Moon’s stand-in.

If you are interested in auditioning, contact [email protected]  . . .   but you could just turn up at 7.30pm on the 2nd!

NODA Review – Living Together

Review for THE NOMADS, Nomad Theatre, East Horsley September 2021

Living Together by Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by Danny Sparkes

Living Together is part of Alan Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquest trilogy, which was written in 1973. The three plays cover a traumatic family weekend in the same house, each set in a different area. Living Together is the second of the three plays, and is set in the living room. The Nomads put on a successful production of Round and Round the Garden 2 years or so ago. Here we see the return of the same talented Director, Danny Sparkes, and largely the same cast reprising their previous roles. A comedy, of course, yet many a sad element to the three plays. All human life is here, so to speak: bickering families; the rivalry between siblings and in-laws; the male ego, often very fragile; the fading looks and chances, and fears of approaching middle age; the delights and disappointments of marriage; and the looming presence of the Aged Parent!  Simmering tensions abound.

There was an attractive living room set, with a view to the enticingly lit garden outside (scene of Round and Round the Garden).  Doors went off to the right, from whence came various disastrous crashings and bangings, and exclamations, as some of the action obviously took place in the dining room, scene of the other play, Table Manners. A satisfying set, I found, with many elements to observe along the way, some of which played a significant role in the proceedings, for example, the chaise longue and the rug, and the ominous box containing Reg’s board game! Costumes were very much ‘of the period’ and were indeed largely the same ones used in Round and Round the Garden. Lighting was very effective throughout.

The central character in all three plays, as the name of the trilogy suggests, is Norman, a librarian and bumbling would-be Lothario, who aims to seduce either, or both, of his sisters-in-law.  At the start, one of them, Annie, seems susceptible, though later less so, and the other, Sarah, seems more drawn to his rather feeble efforts later on in the play. Guy Shirley gave a good performance as Norman, though his whiny character will have made many women in the audience more likely to ignore him than succumb to his supposed charms!  Norman is the perpetual little boy, which I guess is a typical characteristic of such characters. Persistence he certainly had, and the ability to opportunistically grab every possible chance. Well played, Guy, and very funny, especially in the ‘rug’ scene, where for want of any other success, he finally seduces his own wife on the rug in the living room. The four women in the play are all strong and feisty, though we never meet Mother, who stays up in her room. 

Annie is an unmarried daughter who has got stuck at home looking after her. Suzanne Doherty gave a fine, nuanced performance, allowing us to realise the frustrations of her life, bound by the ‘pills’ routine, and lack of much of a life of her own. She resents the more independent existences of her siblings Reg and Ruth, though bears all largely with civility and a certain amount of gratitude that they have come to visit for the weekend, along however with a simmering resentment that they are obviously fairly oblivious to the ties that bind her forever to fending for Mother’s every need. Such a common situation for so many families, and great writing from Ayckbourn to portray this so successfully.

Annie does have a chance of romance, however, with her suitor, the vet Tom whose head is always up in the clouds, and who has the emotional intelligence of a flea, quite unable to read Annie’s signals, and get round to popping the question, or indeed grabbing a kiss. A lovely and endearing performance from Matt Weaver, I think we were all rooting for him to get on and make a move! I’ve now seen him as Tom twice, and can’t wait to see him in a different role and a quite different character – a swash-buckling pirate, maybe, or a wild murderer!

Reg and Sarah are the archetypal married couple swamped with children, glad to be free of them for this weekend away. Wife wears the trousers, probably because she is the more practical and focussed of the two. Husband is really oblivious to most things, other than his all-consuming passion – the invention of board games!   Plenty of humour in all that, exploited well by Ian Macfarlane as Reg and Vykki Mash as Sarah.  Vykki Mash portrayed Sarah well as the woman who has grown away from her boring husband and would now be quite open to exploring other possibilities, with her brother-in-law, for example, if the opportunity arose. Wild-tempered she could be too when roused, and Vykki gave us some good demonstrations of this.  Ian Macfarlane managed to make us feel quite sorry for him in the board game scene, whilst at the same time, we shared everybody else’s frustration at having to play the damned thing! Good comic performances.

Finally, in the second half, we get to meet Norman’s long-suffering wife Ruth.  Moyra Brookes played this role to perfection, making us wonder how a feisty lady such as she could both manage and put up with a roguish wimp (can there be such a thing?) like Norman. And yet, and yet, was there still some genuine affection there? The ‘rug’ seduction scene allowed the two of them to show us that there was.

Ayckbourn’s play showed us the sadness of the human condition, and the cast brought this over very well, but also the comedy of the hum-drum middle-class existence. And for most of the characters, Ayckbourn provided an element of hope – though I’m not sure about Reg unless he managed finally to sell one of his games to a manufacturer!

Danny Sparkes provided a finely directed evening’s enjoyment. We laughed a lot, but we were also given food for thought.

Pauline Surrey

Review – Dead Man Quotes

Dead Man Quotes

Directed by Daniel Shepherd

This was a wonderful piece and Daniel Shepherd is to be congratulated on its creation. He had a huge advantage, of course, in playing the main role of Terry.  It has to be said, however, that playwrights don’t always make the greatest actors, so well done on both fronts.

The prospect of cleaning up a seemingly abandoned council flat is not the most savoury job.  Many of us have seen glimpses of this real-life situation on television and turned away in horror.

Foremost in the minds of our band of “habitat containment and removal managers” was the observance of tradition.  The two more experienced ‘operatives” wanted to ensure that the newest recruit to the team, Pike, (Roland Eve) should understand the importance of Tradition.  He needed to know how things were properly done.

The discovery of the light switch changed the mood of the whole piece.  There, in the middle of the room, it appeared there was a corpse, decently covered, having to remove it was not part of their traditional role.  The Police were to be called and the team’s first thought was to return to the depot. But before they could leave, they decided that it would be respectful to say “a few words.”  

The discovery of two photographs on the sideboard, some questionable magazines along with some unpaid bills gave them, they thought, a suitable profile of the dead person.  The resulting dialogue, inventing a character for the deceased, created moments of really great black humour.  Poor Pike (Roland Eve) was clearly bemused and wondered what he had walked into in every sense of the phrase.  Roland portrayed a lovely, uncertain, and hesitant character.  His face was very descriptive and his voice well projected.

The character created by Jerry (Sid Dolbear) gave us so many occasions on which to smile and laugh. His facial expressions alone were a joy to behold, but he sometimes under projected.  His character, however, was entirely believable.  Have we met him before in Dad’s Army, I wondered?

Barry Whitglow’s (Murray Stephen) entry was an explosion of light, colour, and volume, it provided a hilarious contrast to the melodramatic, momentary sobriety of the other three characters. Sadly, he had been over-enthusiastic on his entry and momentarily lost his lines which broke the pace a bit.

Despite this, it was a funny, sad and very successful production and I hope that Daniel will continue to write for the stage.  

Review by “Polly”

Review – Two Sisters

Two Sisters

Directed by Moyra Brookes

It was a delight to be back at the Nomad theatre again. Despite very strict Covid rules being adhered to, there was a buzz of excitement around the theatre at the joy of being back again.  It is a fabulous facility and The Nomads make full use of it.

This was a brave choice of play.  A two-hander sustained for an hour without a break is a tough undertaking but Nikky Kirkup (Anya) and Vykki Mash (Sonia) took it in their stride. They created the Chekhovian atmosphere with a possible hint of Genet, with minimum fuss and complete success.

Anya’s opening moments set the scene and her scream on seeing the coffin in her sparsely furnished room was convincing beyond words! It gave her the opportunity to reveal her relationship with vodka within minutes.

We also quickly learned that she had a limp and her rather tired, once-glamorous dress underlined the fact that she had fallen on difficult times. The entrance of her sister Sonia dressed as housemaid established in our minds a firm, friendly relationship between the two.

The initial dialogue was a little stiff and the picking up of cues could have been a little more slick, giving pace to the opening moments. The scene soon settled down, however, and we became engaged in the story. We got to know the characters.

It appeared that a coffin had also appeared in Sonia’s room. The two women freshly arrived from a seance which, it seems, both were in the habit of attending.  The growing hysteria in Anya had earlier revealed her fear of death and her belief that the coffin was an omen.

The coffin was the focus of their early dialogue and finally led, with the help of much vodka, to the revelation of the terrible secrets that each had kept from the other. One was a serial murderer and the other a procurer.  When the reason for the appearance of the coffin was discovered, one couldn’t help wondering whether the relationship would ever be the same!

Nikky created a very credible character in Anya and showed total confidence using the acting area.  She was fluent, her voice well projected and she had a good range and believable facial expressions.  She did wonderfully well is sustaining a considerable limp. 

Though we saw her very close relationship with vodka, she showed almost superhuman ability not to show that she must have been getting a little more tipsy as the play went on.  Playing “drunk” is notoriously difficult, but I think we needed just a little attempt here.  Surely, it was the vodka that led her to reveal her terrible secret.

Vikki too created a character (Sonia) in which we could believe and this became more convincing as the play progressed. There were a few moments when the voice dropped a bit too far and there was a little over gesturing which didn’t always seem to arise for the lines of the situation. This was, however, also a successful and well-sustained characterization. As time went on, the ensemble playing between the two became more and more impressive.

The set was minimal and reflected the situation in which the two women found themselves.  The lighting was suitably dingey and supported the atmosphere of a situation of “reduced circumstances.” 

I liked the choice of music, but it was a bit too loud at some points and I would have liked to have heard the difference when the door opened and closed. A tiny, nit-picking comment, I know, but little details like this matter.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable performance. We were drawn into the emotional awfulness of the revelations the women made to one another.  The touches of black humour were always a welcome diversion. They were well pointed and enhanced our enjoyment of the play. And what a relief when we discovered the real reason why the coffins were there! More smile and a little wry laughter.

The director is to be congratulated on a very interesting and brave choice of piece. It was very effectively executed and was clearly enjoyed by all the audience.  What a tragedy there were so few of us.

Review by “Polly”

Living Together

Living Together by Alan Ayckbourn

14-18th September 2021 at 7:30 pm

Tickets: adults £14, students £10.

Directed by Danny Sparkes

Living Together is the middle play of the ‘Norman Conquests’ by Alan Ayckbourn. Fortunately, each play can be performed independently, although the action takes place over one weekend among the same group of related people.

A common factor is Norman’s inadequate attempts to ‘seduce’ his sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s wife, whilst keeping his own wife happy! This is a comedy that shows just what happens when families misunderstand what is happening under their noses!! The common theme is Norman’s assertion – “but I love you!”

NODA Review – God Of Carnage

Review for THE NOMADS, Nomad Theatre, East Horsley June 2021

God Of Carnage

Directed by Elaine Burns

God of Carnage is described as a “dark comedy”. It is set in Paris, in the living room of Michel and Véronique Vallon whose son Bruno has had a fight in a local park with Ferdinand, the son of Alain and Annette Reille. Ferdinand knocked out two of Bruno’s teeth. The parents of both boys, who are aged 11, meet to discuss the matter. The evening starts in a fairly civilised way with tea and clafoutis (a classic French cherry cake), the men bonding with each other to start with, but gradually degenerates into chaos as the four become progressively more argumentative and childish, take to the bottle, and eventually part company, hurling accusations at each other including their own spouse. The characters retained their French names, emphasising the setting of the story in Paris. Other productions over the years have adopted English names, losing the French location. The play has been performed all over the world in different languages since it was launched in 2006, and includes a film adaptation directed by Roman Polanski in 2011 under the title Carnage.

The casting was impeccable. The play opens with Véronique Vallon, played by Andrea Charles, reading the extent of her son Bruno’s injuries from a clipboard, playing with semantics as to whether the other boy, Ferdinand, was ‘armed’ with a stick and did he ‘disfigure’ Bruno. Her claim to fame is that she is writing a book on Darfur and has an interest in art, cherishing various exhibition catalogues. Michel, (Ian Creese), her somewhat coarse husband, is a wholesaler of household wares (pots and pans, as he described it) who has a slightly neurotic, sick mother who constantly telephones. He slouches in his chair, while initially trying to keep the peace. He is vilified by the others for throwing out his daughter’s pet hamster and leaving it to die in the street. (Fortunately, we don’t actually see this!)

Annette Reille (Helen Teasdale) and her husband Alain (Jason Spiller) are the slicker of the two couples – he an arrogant lawyer and she is something to do with wealth management. The superior (he thinks) Alain is constantly interrupted by his mobile phone and we listen to his conversations with colleagues, becoming more and more irate and vindictive, about a court case with a pharmaceutical company that is verging on litigation. Spiller’s handling of the mobile phone calls was superb, very believable, and his subsequent descent into inebriation after partaking of too much rum was skilfully controlled and not overdone.

Another clever touch was when Annette realistically vomits all over the floor, coffee table and precious art books, cleverly operated from a cushion she was clutching. Her tantrum over Alain’s use of his mobile which she throws into the vase of flowers was very funny, as was her parting shot of trashing the tulips out of the vase, which Alain tries to clear up, crawling all over the floor.

The play ends with both couples being the worse for wear, the Reilles’ staggering out, leaving the Vallons to continue their own personal brawl and Véronique still trying to meet up with Annette to discuss their sons’ behaviour. There is a danger with a one-act play and a small number of characters that the pace drops off or it is too static. Not so here. The skilful direction of Elaine Burns made sure that it moved along briskly but without being rushed. The cast provided their own costumes which appropriately displayed the difference in their social standing – the professional Reilles’ and the more down-to-earth Vallons.

A single, simple set of the Vallon’s living room with one entrance centre back, giving nothing away as to the era but clearly indicating the present because of the extensive use of a mobile phone. Minimal props but the scene with the cushion concealing the vomit of the unfortunate Annette was cleverly performed! The introductory music of Françoise Hardy singing Tous les garcons et les filles de mon age provided an authentic French feel and certainly took me back to my days at University in France in the early 1960s!

A most enjoyable evening. Congratulations to everyone – skilful direction by Elaine Burns who was lucky to have an extremely talented cast, every one of them wholly believable, and a friendly welcoming Front of House team who managed to uphold the necessary Covid rules without overdoing it.

Jane Turner – Assistant Rep, NODA

All That Glisters – The Nomes

A show by The Nomes

All That Glisters

10th & 11th July 2021 at 3:30pm

Tickets: Adults £6, Children/Students £4

During the Spring Term, we conducted classes online and we’re working together on creating our brand new summer show: ‘All that Glisters’ or Shakespeare meets Hollywood!

The show mixes plots and characters from Shakespeare’s plays with late 20th century stereotypes and Hollywood movie glamour. The characters all dream of movie industry fame and winning gold. Imagine Juliet as a movie starlet, Prospero as a  producer, Caliban as a director, Romeo as a stuntman and the Fairies as an award-winning pop group!

To realise their dreams they journey through storm and peril to Hollywoodland. A fun-packed and original piece of family theatre…


Written and Directed by Sammy Swanborough & Matt Findlay

Devised with The Nomes students

Production Manager: Jackie Shearer

Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

23rd-27th November 2021

Adapted and Directed by Graham Botterill

Tickets: adults £16, children/students £10.

The Nomad Theatre proudly presents a celebration of Mr Lewis Carroll’s enchanting fantasy – a splendid time is guaranteed for all!

Join us for our family-friendly adaptation of the classic story of Alice, a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole one summer afternoon. On her journey into Wonderland, she’ll meet many new friends, and see some extraordinary sights.

This production is brought to you by the NODA award-winning team who produced A Christmas Carol in 2019.


Review – The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

Review for THE NOMADS, Nomad Theatre, East Horsley June 2019

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

Directed by Elaine Burns

Perhaps it’s because of the naff sounding titles, that the Farndale series of plays are sometimes confused with light, frothy comedies that are easy to stage and to perform…and to enjoy. But Farndale plays are complex, very carefully crafted and come with explicit instructions. You deviate from these at your peril.
Staging the play in the restricted area of the Studio could have caused a few headaches. But, in fact, the set design was a triumph; and the intimacy of the whole space added greatly to the atmosphere. There were four exits (SL archway, SR passage, SR stairway and a window), plus a false door and a fireplace
flat. All were used to great comic effect.

The initial disintegration of the set was delightful and nicely timed. The pelmet & curtains fell down; a leg came off the chess-table, sending it and the pieces flying, and the fireplace flat collapsed. Lighting and Sound were perfectly co-ordinated. Deliberately mistimed cues peppered the action and
confused the characters…particularly when the light switch also operated the telephone…great moment! The Isle of Man video was beautifully filmed and artfully projected. Very dignified performances by Mr Beasley and the Manx cat. Props were always available and hilariously inappropriate…particularly the recurring accordion. Costumes were well chosen, in that they were slightly eccentric for the characters and completely bonkers for the fashion show.

Much of the comedy was when people fell out of character into their Townswomen’s Guild persona. Felicity and Audrey struggled with the fireplace flat…first erecting it back to front and then upside down. People used the wrong entrances, shuffled their lines, repeated their lines, corrected each other,
corpsed shamelessly and recited recipes to the audience.

Moyra Brookes was surely born to play Mrs Reece, the Chairman. The “one or two announcements” that went on forever, the rivalry with Thelma, exasperated asides to lighting & stage management, the succession of characters and the final upstaging of Felicity and everyone else. It was a monstrously fine performance.

Juliana Anderiesz played Thelma, second in command and Mrs R’s implacable rival. She showed great comic timing as she flipped in and out of character. Wonderfully funny moment when she and Murray (as O’Reilly) appeared to get into a loop whilst discussing her former lover, Randolph. Very difficult to achieve and very nicely performed. Cheryl Chamberlain played Felicity. Her gentle character contrasted well with the butch portrayal of Dawn and Colonel King, who she played in insanely rapid succession and with good physical comedy. Particularly loved the moment when she switched on the standard lamp…not really believing that it would work.

Fiona Whitehead was Audrey, who vividly portrayed a range of eccentric characters. She was very good as Violet, the spinster aunt with the dodgy Yorkshire accent. Murray Stephen was the stage manager, Gordon, who’d been dragooned into playing the police inspector at short notice. He looked appropriately uncomfortable: searching for his lines, addressing the floor and never knowing where to stand. Lovely timing and characterisation.
The director, of this production, has faithfully followed the script and its instructions…and it has paid off. The pace was excellent and interactions were well co-ordinated…there was a chair arranging sequence that seemed to take up a whole act. It was impossible to spot any fumbling that hadn’t been
meticulously rehearsed.

There was such a rich vein of comedy that we, the audience, hardly dared laugh in case we missed the next nugget of humour.
To conclude: you must be fine actors, well-directed and rehearsed, to appear so exquisitely incompetent!

Maragh Berllotti

Auditions – God of Carnage

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza

Directed by Elaine Burns

Scheduled for: Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th November at 7:45, in the Studio

Some of you may already have seen this brilliant play written in 2008 and those of you who saw ‘Art’ will already know how Yasmina Reza constructs very funny and all so true studies of modern life and manners.  The pace is fast and totally engaging as two couples meet for drinks and to discuss the fight between their 11 yr old sons.  The couples are professional and want a civilised meeting but the evening descends into tantrums, insults and aggressive behaviour, while the dynamics between them shift.
This is an ensemble piece and each part has its high moments as satire mixes with farce.  Each couple needs to be plausibly old/young enough to have a son aged 11.  (Elizabeth McGovern played Veronica at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, in January and was brilliant).
  • Veronica – an art lover who writes about Africa but she is actually confrontational and a hypocrite
  • Michael – a self-made man who owns a business selling household goods and proud of his rough upbringing
  • Annette – conciliatory at first but she lets rip by the end of the evening
  • Alan – a corporate lawyer currently defending a pharmaceutical company, receives phone calls throughout
Auditions will be held via Zoom so contact Elaine to arrange this.  Rehearsals will start in September.
01483 283723          [email protected]

Auditions – Alice In Wonderland

Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Adapted and Directed by Graham Botterill

Scheduled for: Tuesday 15th to Saturday 19th December at 7:30, matinee Saturday 19th at 2:30

This is a new adaptation of this wonderful children’s tale by the NODA award-winning team who produced A Christmas Carol

Auditions are planned to take place on 12th-14th July with rehearsals starting in September.

The audition pack, including script and character details, is now available!

Contact the Director for details: [email protected] 

NODA Review – Round And Round The Garden

NODA Representative, Jon Fox, reviews the recent production of Round And Round The Garden by The Nomads at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us).

We are thrilled to have been awarded “Best Drama” in the South-East district by NODA for this production!

This sparkling Ayckbourn comedy was first produced in 1975 and made a great impression on me.  To see amateur actors stepping into the shoes of such showbiz greats as Michael Gambon, Penelope Keith and Felicity Kendall among others was always going to be a worry, I reasoned. But I need not have been at all concerned, for the six players all did admirably well.  Almost incredibly there was not a single prompt – indeed, I later learnt that the director chose not to have a prompt in the wings at all – and the talented Danny Sparkes, who directed, made a wise if somewhat brave choice. It was quickly made very obvious that all six actors thoroughly knew their parts and the whole piece had excellent pace, with crisp and completely audible diction.  In fact, there was a professional feel to the production.

The story is the final part of Ayckbourn’s “Norman Trilogy” where the action takes place in the garden of single lady Annie’s house in East Grinstead (her unseen mother, invalid and demanding, also lives at the house) on a pleasant Saturday early evening in a late 1970s July. Sensibly, the director Danny Sparkes did not update the period. It concerns would be Lothario Norman’s cack-handed attempts to bed both Annie (his wife’s sister) and Sarah (her sister-in-law), whilst endeavouring to keep his own wife, Ruth content. It must be said that all six players played their characters truthfully – painfully so in fact, much to their credit – and the humour was provided by the genius of Ayckbourn.   As ever in his plays, the humour came largely from the natural human foibles and weaknesses, plus the futile attempts to conceal them from the other actors. I must say that all six were beautifully cast and the actors really got inside their respective characters, thus exposing those human foibles so well.
A fairly simple set of a middle-class 1970s style garden with a stone table statue. pot plants and a hard to find cat made for a realistic platform on which this comical masterpiece unfolded.   The very Englishness was beautifully brought out by director Danny, with taped music of “In an English Country Garden” being played at scene changes and suitable moments.   Lighting by Tony and Dee Bowdery was simple but effectively used, whilst costumes and hairstyles were most appropriate for the period. Justin Cobb ensured a most effective sound and costumes were provided either by the players themselves or by Danny.
There was perhaps an inclination of some modernity, rather than strict late 1970s.  The two younger men, Tom and Norman, would have had longer hair. Matt Weaver as Tom, a vet, was a “deliciously English” middle class, sexually repressed and even naïve man.   A handsome man, the reality of his being found attractive by ladies completely befuddled his hesitant personality.
A beautifully pitched performance in all. Suzanne Doherty as Annie had a huge role and carried it off admirably. Guy Shirley as the lascivious Norman gave a delightfully “disgraceful” performance. Paul Asher was a realistic car bore, imparting his knowledge of “A” roads in hideous realism.  We have all come across Reg and his type at parties and looked for a quick way to escape!
Vykki Mash gave a wonderfully charismatic performance as the bossy, though vulnerable Sarah. Last, but certainly not least – apart from minutes on stage – was the short-sighted Ruth, played with an aching realness by the talented Moyra Brookes.
This was a fine production by the company, extremely well directed by Danny Sparkes with sure-footed production manager Andrew Hamel-Cooke providing his behind the scenes support with consummate ease and bonhomie. A highly successful and most enjoyable production throughout.” Jon Fox – NODA Representative



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.  

NODA Review – The Hollow

NODARepresentative, Pauline Surrey, reviews the recent production of The Hollow by The Nomads at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us). “Originally produced in 1951 this play was a great success, running at the Ambassadors Theatre for 11 months.  The full house at the Nomad Theatre still proves the draw of an Agatha Christie play, and the whoops of celebration from the audience at the final curtain would encourage any society to include whodunits regularly in their repertoire! East Horsley is very lucky indeed to have this fine theatre, with its roomy, raked seating. Recently a spacious bar was added (the very cosy, rather tiny bar was demolished), and with each visit I make, this bar is becoming cosier, as past production posters etc are added. There was a fine 1950s set, of a typical drawing room with well-equipped drinks trolley, and outdoor views through the French windows and from the balcony. A fine painting of the rather important family home ‘Dear Ainswick’ hung over the mantelpiece. A fine lobster made its appearance too!  Lighting was very effective throughout, and there was an impressive thunderstorm. Costumes were of the period and added to the nostalgic atmosphere created. The first thing needed in a good Agatha Christie story is fine characterisation, as the twists and turns of the plot demand that one can envisage many, if not all, of the characters as the murderer, and yet of course never be certain until the final 5 minutes! Thus in this Nomad version, we had the bumbly and kindly Sir Henry Angkatell (Graham Botterill) covering over his wife’s forgetfulness and seemingly increasing dottiness with both fortitude and a solicitous attitude. Lady Lucy (Judy Kelly) was the provider of the humour in the piece, as she seemed far more concerned about menus and food being served hot or cold, than about a corpse in her living room! A believable couple these two, well played. Cousin Henrietta Angkatell (Moyra Brookes), the resident sculptress, wandered languidly about, obviously longing for the arrival of her lover, the doctor John Christow. And yet she acted as though she was really fond of his dull wife Gerda, taking steps to ensure that Gerda felt at ease during the weekend ahead, which for this shy wife was bound to be a miserable one, as she felt socially and intellectually inferior to the rest of her party. Was this genuine concern on the part of Henrietta, we wondered? A breath of fresh air was provided by the arrival from London of cousin Midge Harvey (Helen Teasdale), young, lively and attractive. She was keen on the nice but dim nephew of Sir Henry, Edward Angkatell, (Daniel Shepherd), the young man who had inherited ‘Dear Ainswick’, and who, in the eyes of Lady Lucy, needed to be married off in order to provide an heir.  Daniel Shepherd played this hapless character rather well and really looked the part in his country tweeds. He pined deliciously for Henrietta, whose affections were of course directed elsewhere.  And so the plot builds, motives are sewn, right at the start of the play and throughout Act I. Good performances from all ensured we understood where we were. Nevertheless, I do feel that more attention could have been paid to pace, as delivery seemed rather plodding at times. This is a long play, at 3 hours, at the best of times, and I felt that the Nomads might have made it a bit snappier than they did, as it overran by 20 minutes. Anyway, after the big build-up of expectation as to this unequal couple, (and oddly somewhat unwelcome guests) the Christows, they finally arrived. The doctor, John Christow, was played with suave arrogance by Michael Ayres. His wife, the intellectually challenged and socially inept Gerda, all nervous handbag-clutching and finger fiddling, was played to perfection by Nikky Kirkup, a very fine performance indeed. The sudden and unexpected arrival of the film star Veronica Craye, so so glamorous in red, cool, sophisticated and sassy, ostensibly seeking to borrow some matches, put the cat among the pigeons. Impeccably played by Suzanne Doherty with great relish, it must have been fun to do! One cameo role I was impressed with was the maid Doris. Ellie Sayer brought this role to life, with a great sense of comic timing, and very believable. This young maid had exactly the right amount of deference, clumsiness, nosiness and humour, and Ellie provided some light relief which was very welcome. This Agatha Christie piece is structurally unusual, in that not much happens until well into Act II, and one asks oneself whether all that dialogue in Act I is really necessary. A few cuts would not have detracted from the laying of the plot and development of the characters. Nevertheless, the good cast made the best of it, and the audience certainly appreciated it, working hard to follow the clues and red herrings, and the last 5 minutes were truly exciting and astounding. There was rousing applause as the curtain fell.” Pauline Surrey – NODA Representative 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.

Auditions – Two one-act plays directed by Moyra Brookes

The Nomads will be presenting My Second Best Bed and Two Sisters in the studio, directed by Moyra Brookes.

  • Performance dates: 16-20 June 2020 at 7.45pm
  • Rehearsal days: TBC
Auditions will be held in the Bob King Room at 7.30 pm on:
  • Thursday 5th March
  • Monday 9th March

You can audition for just one play or both. If you would like further information, or cannot make these audition dates, please email [email protected] or call 07771757625.

My Second Best Bed : Barry Syder

May 1616; 3 weeks after Shakespeare’s death. A room in New place Stratford upon Avon, home of William Shakespeare and family. Very simple set: table bench and chair. Silver bowl with apples

The Curate has come to read the will! Why did Shakespeare leave his wife his second-best bed?

Cast and roles

  • Susanna Hall: 34-44 Shakespeare’s eldest daughter, middle-aged housewife
  • Curate: 25-35 self-righteous church official, clerical mind with modern outlook (think Mr Collins in P&P and star-struck on celebs)
  • Judith 32-42 youngest daughter, bad-tempered she runs the local tavern with her husband
  • Anne Hathaway: 60 + early onset of Dementia (very small part)

Two Sisters: Caroline Harding

Dark secrets hidden in the grey mists of time are reluctantly revealed in this excellent black comedy. Set in a small village in 1880’s Russia, Anya and Sonia are goaded into recollecting some things they’d rather forget from their earlier years, upon the bizarre discovery of an empty coffin in Anya’s lodgings.

Anya and Sonia, now in their forties, have an easy-going relationship with one another. They seem to love each other as sisters should, and are each able to make jokes and poke fun at the other’s expense.This is surprising as twenty-five years before, they both fell in love with the same man, Anya much more so than Sonia, but it was the older Sonia who married him and bore his child. On his untimely death soon afterwards, Anya was so distraught that she tried to end her life, and the pregnant Sonia, was quickly forced to marry again, in order to support her and her new baby.

The coffin acts as a catalyst to Anya as she recounts how, before he died, she tried to protect Sonia from discovering the truth about André .Sonia for her part, then informs Anya that she was well aware of his indiscretions,. Each is amazed at their ability to keep these secrets from each other for nearly a quarter of a century – during which time both have led less than happy lives. Can they remain friends with the memories of Andre returning to haunt them?

And the coffin?………….

Cast and roles 

  • Anya – early 40s, ‘free with her favours’ to many men, has a limp, drinks a lot
  • Sonia – mid-40s, stuck in a loveless marriage

NODA Review – Jack And The Beanstalk

NODA South-East Representative, Jon Fox, reviews the recent production of Jack And The Beanstalk by The Nomads at The Nomad Theatre in Surrey (find us).

This well known and oft-performed pantomime has all the essential elements so loved and so familiar to British audiences.  The charismatic but hard-pressed Dame, the daft son, the essential baddie and incompetent baddie double act and the all-essential eventual triumph of good over evil.  And glory be, in this innovative production, a welcome but increasingly rare in amateur panto, two-person skin act.

Daisy the cow made a major contribution to this show and two young people, Andrea Almazán and Oli Newhall, succeeded in giving Daisy a distinct and engaging personality of her own. She squealed, rather than mooed, which I found amusing. This particular script had some very witty lines. I especially liked “longer than a Government decision”, very apt right now. I also much liked the fact that each person in the show was given an actual named character which, I suggest is especially important and beneficial to the young and very young players.

Visionary director Andrew Hamel-Cooke is well known for his fresh ideas and his keen and skilful encouragement of young players.  Some in this production had not acted in panto before, even some of the adults, but had their programme notes not said so, no one would have guessed.

Millie Jane Franks made a fine principal boy, Jack Pott – I dislike the growing trend for a male to play principal boy – and a jolly good job she made of it, thigh-slapping with the best of them, with stage presence to spare! 

John Want was a highly suitable Dame Pott, likeable, real vulnerability, but with an eye on the main chance.

Adam Coburn was a fine Grotweasel, scary, hideously made up (in other words “good” and hugely watchable.    

A lovely touch was the double fairy act Fairy Greatgodmother and Fairy Godmother on “work experience”.  Margaret Simmons and Alice Baron, respectively, played them for all they were worth.    



Sasha Plaché DeVilliers was an excellent Jill, elegant, talented and a top all-round performer. Ella Kay made Silly Sally into something really special.   She was superbly charismatic and a real hit!   Graham Botterill was an excellent squire.  Clearly a highly experienced performer and how it showed.

The twerp baddie duo were Dogbreath and Hairball, played by Sophie Johnstone and Matthew Weaver respectively, providing great comedy.


Musical Director James Marr, with his small combo, provided good musical support and the singing was generally good or adequate, with one or two quality singing voices. Sasha and Andrea jointly choreographed and were able to use the many young and spirited performers in particular to good effect. Costumes by Jenny Hasted and Ella Kay were generally good, though I would have preferred far more vivid panto colours on chorus members. There were a little too many pastel shades ideally. The dialogue at times lacked pace and cues were not always picked up quickly enough.  The set was well thought out and constructed by The Tuesday Crew – presumably in-house. Good sound effects and lighting, by Clive Vinall on sound and Tony and Dee Bowdery on lighting, added lustre to this engaging production.

I liked a number of the essential traditional panto requirements such as topical and local gags, well put over too I thought, and humorous stage set signs such as “Ample Bottom, 75 inches” with Fore Sale indicating the bailiffs on the Dame’s Cottage. The four candle seller was an inspired touch. I loved the giant and the voice, courtesy of Murray Stephen and the Act Two Ice setting was highly effective. Lots of visual plusses then!


A word for the excellent programme with welcome CVs for all members. For the younger members, in particular, it is an excellent idea to make each one a named character with a chance to tell us something individually. Overall, this was an enjoyable production and an undoubted success.  A few nitpicks here and there did not detract from what was a really well put-over production.

Jon Fox – NODA South-East Representative

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.