World premiere comes to Summerseat Players

Watson & Holmes Review

If, like me, you are a fan of the murder mystery & crime genre, then Summerseat Players production of Watson and Holmes will surely be one for you to watch. This is a two act play which takes a brief look into the lives of first the young detecting duo and then later the retired Sherlock Holmes and his former companion John Watson.

In the first act – The Abergavenny Murder, Chris Balmer plays an amiable and companionable Watson putting up in good humour with Chris Dunn’s at first bored and then, when a new case arrives, excitable Sherlock Holmes. The act progresses quickly through revelation after revelation as Holmes solves the case before him in his customary manner whilst Watson provides the necessary narrative which helps the audience keep track through the former’s lightening quick deductions. 

Mention should also go to Graham Humphreys for his subtle yet integral performance…!

Beautifully written, it was a pleasure to experience the very first stage production of Bert Coules’ short story (it was originally performed as a Radio 4 play), which is very much in keeping with Arthur Conan Doyle’s style. 

The 2nd act sees Coules adaptation of a short story from Doyle himself after Holmes has long since retired to the country and Watson goes to visit his old friend. 

The warm yet banter-filled friendship between the pair is in full evidence with Holmes having mellowed into a more amiable and playful fellow, wonderfully portrayed by Bob Howell in this story of ‘The Lion’s Mane’. Geoff Sword takes on the role of Watson in his dotage, who it seems has perhaps started to have the upper hand over Holmes as he takes his turn to solve the crime at hand. 

At times laugh out loud funny, and at other times poignant and reflective, the second act is in keeping with the first, doling out clues for the audience to follow the mystery and perhaps even (like me I’m proud to say) solve along the way!

Behind the scenes crews also deserve recognition – the production takes place in the theatre’s studio and makes good use of the space and minimal props. Lighting and stage are also used to good, yet unobtrusive effect and each of the actor’s costumes is in keeping with their character and the period. 

Ably and confidently directed by Elizabeth Dunn, this play is a charming piece of theatre and to say you shouldn’t miss out is, well, elementary my dears!  There’s just a few tickets left for Thursday – get them soon!

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News from the AGM & Awards Evening 2015

Well, the 2015/16 season is alreadywell underway with near capacity audiences and glowing reviews of Summerseat Players’ inaugural production of the new theatrical year with Ladies’ Day by Amanda Whittington.

However, let’s take a moment to look back at last season following the recently held AGM & Awards Evening, affectionately dubbed “The Rammies”!

The evening commenced with reports from the Treasurer Irene Hill and Chairman Geoff Sword, who, seated on stage behind part of the Ladies’ Day set and flanked by President Leslie Norris and Secretary Graham Humphreys, resembled contestants on some form of game show, gave the audience an insightful and often amusing update on business and activities during the last financial year. Copies of the financial statements were made available and it is good to note how well the theatre is doing, largely because of its loyal patrons and healthy door sales, which make the theatre one of the most well attended of its size in the UK.

Then, in a new format to the AGM, the audience were treated to a cabaret performance from Any (pronounced Annie) Partington who transported us to a Parisienne street cafe with strains of an accordion player and a very authentic rendition of some of the songs of Edith Piaf. All we were short of was a bottle of vin rouge and a baguette!

Following this, and introduced by a very smartly turned out Brian Hunt, our Chairman, President and Secretary returned to the stage to present the awards for the previous season. First to be recognised were members of the youth group with special awards for Kirsty and Jenny from the younger group, along with Harriet and Leah from the older group. Leah had also been recognised in the recent GMDF awards for her portrayal of Summer in Last of the Haussmans.

Next to receive commendations were other nominees from the GMDF awards, including Bob Howell and Clodagh O’Flynn for their performances in ‘Lend Me A Tenor’, the production/technical teams for ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, the adjudicators Discretionary award for the “excellent comic entertainment” of the curtain call of ‘Lend Me A Tenor’, and winning a special GMDF adjudicators award was Danny Hewitt for his nightly dramatic exit through an open window in Cuckoo’s Nest.

Awards on the night went to the following people deemed last season’s worthy winners by Summerseat Players’ esteemed committee:
• The Les Norris Technical Award was presented to Dave Ogden and the whole backstage team
• The John Cropper Award for Best Performance in a cameo role went to Emma Morris for her role as Candy in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’
• The Paula Higginbottom Award for Best Actress in a comedy role went to Jane Embury for her role as Maggie in ‘Lend Me a Tenor’
• The Dennis & Peggy Hudson Award for Best Actor in a comedy role went to Chris Dunn for his role as the Bellhop in ‘Lend Me a Tenor’
• The President’s Award for Services to the Society went to Jenny McConkey for taking over the part of Judy Haussman in ‘Last of the Haussmans’ just days before opening night
• The winner of the Gillian Rogers Rosebowl for best play of the season was “Heroes”.

And finally, collecting both GMDF Best Actor trophies and the Dr Barrie Miller Memorial Trophy for Best Actor was a well deserving John O’Connell for his portrayal of Randle McMurphy in Andrea Kinsella’s production of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’.

Congratulations to everyone concerned and also a special mention from this blogger to those who were well deserving of awards but surely only narrowly missed out this time.

Coming next to the Theatre Royal from Summerseat Players:
A double bill of Sherlock Holmes stories including a UK stage premiere of Bert Coules’ original radio mystery ‘The Abergavenny Murder’, alongside a dramatisation of ‘The Lion’s Mane’. Check out the website, theatre literature and our Facebook page for more information and details of how to buy tickets. This is a studio production so seats are limited – don’t miss out!

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