Going Postal – A Directorial Debut

So why Going Postal? Having a Pratchett fan in the family meant growing up with Discworld all around. We had the audiobooks playing in the car, watched the films till we could quote them by heart, and even dressed up for the conventions. In 2017, when Water Lane decided to do Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters, I took to the stage for the first time in over a decade as the villainous battle-axe, Lady Felmet!

Little did I know then that one day we’d be putting on another Pratchett…and that this time I’d be the one in the driving seat!

Having previously said I’d try anything once, I decided to give directing a go for A One Act One Night, choosing a sketch from “Duets” involving two actors, a fridge and an enormous wheel of cheese. The show ended up being a great deal of fun to stage, and it got plenty of laughs from the audience on the night.

Water Lane soon asked for members to start putting possibilities forward for their next November play. I had several very different ideas but, in the end, I knew it had to be a Pratchett and suggested Going Postal. The script has some truly intriguing characters (and a powerhouse heroine!), a great storyline and some exciting possibilities for our tech team to get creative…

Building on the success of Wyrd Sisters which was performed at the same venue, Going Postal will use similar techniques for setting the scene while adding a few new surprises along the way.

We will be arriving in Ankh Morpork (also known as the Charis Centre in Bishop’s Stortford) from Thursday 18th November until Saturday 20th November. I hope people enjoy watching the show as much as we’ve enjoyed bringing it to life!

Twelfth Night Reviews !!

Below are two reviews of our recent production of Twelfth Night !!! The first from NODA and the second as it appeared in the Bishop’s Stortford independent

Noda Review

Author: Decia Ranger

After months of being denied the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience, Water Lane was obviously raring to go and most certainly on top form for their picnic presentation of this hilarious version of “Twelfth Night”.  This was Shakespeare on holiday in what the programme describes as a (relatively) upmarket resort. Costumes were modern with a nod to the traditional.  I’m sure the Bard would have thoroughly approved.

Performing in a large outdoor space calls for good projection and the society has a number of experienced actors for whom this was not a problem. A dour Richard Pink declaring himself to be Head of Compliance opened the proceedings.  Cat Quigley as Fabienne was a great over the top holiday rep with Paul Winspear (Feste)  looking a decidedly bored Head of Fun.  Your normal package holiday this was not, although there may be those who disagree.

There were excellent performances from Nancy Jones as the flirtatious Olivia and Hannah-Marie Juggins as Viola who, disguised as Cesario, a boy, becomes the object of Olivia’s desires.  Matt Juggins used his powerful speaking voice to great effect as Orsino, the character with whom Viola is in love and Andy Roberts made a great Sir Andrew Aguecheek.  I made a note by his name which says ‘funny sunnies’ and they certainly were a great comedic touch. There were other strong performances from Michael Beavan as Viola’s twin brother Sebastian and Will Jamieson as Sir Toby Belch. Granville Rush was obviously enjoying playing Malvolio whose dreams of marrying Olivia are shattered when he appears in yellow stockings and cross garters. Hilarious.  I’m sure Amanda Green had a lot of people fooled when she was coaxed from the audience following the plea for a priest. 

Everyone in the cast did a great job in bringing their character to life and what is more, they were all obviously enjoying every minute of it. Well done to the children who were having a lot of fun running to the beach and back throughout the evening.

The Monastery Garden is a lovely setting, lending itself perfectly to the re-enactment of Shakespeare’s works. It is however a vast space and there were times when I felt the action was rather too spread out. We were seated centrally with an excellent view (thank you Richard) but were aware that those seated further along on both sides may have had difficulty seeing and hearing what was going on.  I’m sure the Director had his reasons for using the space as he did, even though it involved the cast doing a lot of running back and forth. Could this have been to capture the attention of those still enjoying their picnics? Personally I would have preferred the action to have been more contained.  That said, it was a lot of fun with the majority of the audience showing their appreciation throughout.  

The icing on the cake was of course the weather.  A lovely warm evening with not a drop of rain in sight.  I do hope it stayed that way for the rest of the run. Congratulations to all involved in putting this production together.  No mean feat in a pandemic.

Thank you for inviting me.

Indy review !!!

Phoebe Taplin reviews Water Lane Theatre Company’s open-air production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the Monastery Gardens, Bishop’s Stortford, Thursday July 1-Sunday July 4… 

Water Lane’s joyous outdoor production of Shakespeare’s romcom Twelfth Night was just what Bishop’s Stortford needed after months of loneliness and cultural deprivation.

Transposed to a modern-day holiday resort, it opened with instructions from the “head of compliance” (director Richard Pink) which managed simultaneously to inform and to satirise the tortuous one-way systems that places have had to introduce. But this talented amateur company relied only sparingly on contemporary interpolations (like references to sponsorship by Premier Travel) to make us laugh.

Kicking off with the shipwreck, the script from stranded Viola’s “What country friends is this?” onwards was (mostly) Shakespeare’s, albeit shifted from Illyria to Marbella, with a crowd of cheerfully screaming kids running through and waving inflatables between scenes.

Hannah Juggins as Viola was throughout an upbeat, likeable anchor for the plot. The humour came mostly through a simple and lively clarity about what the characters were saying and why. I have seen Twelfth Night dozens of times and can honestly say I have never laughed so much.

Twelfth Night has such an excess of foolery that it has two fools: Cat Quigley played Fabian (here Senõrita Fabienne) with wit and conviction while Paul Winspear as Feste had just the right balance of jest and melancholy.

Charlotte Pritchard was a believably capable Maria (“my lady’s head of catering”) and had some fine ensemble comedy collaborations with the reeling drunkenness of Sir Toby Belch (Will Jamieson) and the fabulously lisping uselessness of Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Andy Roberts). The scene where Maria shifts from professional disapproval to mischievous scheming as she is drawn into late-night carousing was staged with panache.

It was not only the comic characters and clowns who made us laugh. Nancy Jones as the lovestruck Countess Olivia and Matthew Juggins as the self-dramatising Count Orsino were also engaging.

A virtuoso turn by Amanda Green as Madam Topas the priest, seemingly picked out of the audience at random, made sure the play did not flag towards the end.

As did Michael Beavan as Sebastian and John Bell as an excellent Antonio, the poignancy of Antonio’s desperation when he thinks he has been betrayed by his friend contrasting with the slapstick security officers chasing him.

There was a stand-out performance from Granville Rush as Malvolio, the Lady Olivia’s steward. Whether starchy in pinstripes or flirtatious in yellow tights (a scene that is usually more excruciating than hilarious), he turned in a laugh-out-loud portrayal of pomposity brought low by its own self-importance. Shakespeare’s own hatred of the theatre-closing Puritans fuelled his portrait of Malvolio and this play recreated the bard’s championing of human joie de vivre even in a time of plague.

Of course, it helped that it was all safely outdoors, that the weather was fine and that we could bring our own wine (or buy it from the Twisted Cellar van). For many of us, this was the first live theatrical performance we have seen in over a year. But none of that should detract from the cast’s achievement.

This may not have been a flawless production, but it was brilliant in every way that matters.

She cooks – but what’s she putting in the dinner ?

The plot thickens as does the stew …this time its the cook

Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March – And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

You can get tickets here
Cluedo Mrs. Rogers - VanessaWho are you ?

I’m Vanessa Povey

Playing?

Ethel Rogers, cook /housekeeper

Tell us about her please

She’s a great cook but hates running the house. Feels a bit  put upon by the situation in hand. Likes to moan and groan but a good grafter .

What the biggest mystery you know ?

Biggest mystery …. mmmmm maybe the biggest mystery is the meaning of life itself?

( Blimey – thats as deep as one of her serving dishes – Ed) 

 

Tales from the Barn ….

Looky here – our stage manager has an apprentice !

A flat white no longer!!

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After painting flats for Water Lane since the early eighties and now noticing the bristles on my paintbrush beginning to turn white and drop out I decided to put out a plea for an apprentice to learn the trade and find out where I keep all my myriad bits of wood, fittings and assorted junk that can be persuaded or forced kicking and screaming into the limelight and onto the stage.

It was important for the applicant to be a total squirrel and never discard a thing that might conceivably be useful.

One also has to learn to live with a permanent and sometimes quite noticeable veneer of emulsion not to mention a willingness to embrace various glues, spray paints and sticky back plastics!

Was this going to be an impossible task …….read on.

 

At the last AGM I asked to be John’s set building apprentice and it has been fantastic, if a bit chilly, to see all the magic that happens in the barn for months before that Sunday get in. Far from the experience of those early sunday mornings of show week where all hands are on deck to bring John and Granville’s magnificent sets to life, the experience in the barn is somewhat different and in many ways more spectacular. Instead to a large team with power drills, there is a barn with room for 2 at a time and lots of heavy flats covering every wall. Over the last couple of months I’ve seen vast wooden boards, held together by years of paint become a stately home with all it’s intricate details. Those small details are the bits I always took for granted. What colour walls would they have? Do we have enough matching door handles? Who can build extra bits of staging to make a raised platform? Where can we get another set of functioning french doors? So much work goes into Water Lane sets and I could gush for hours about the talent and resourcefulness of our back stage boys but I’ll just say that I feel truly privileged to be a part of it and hope to be involved for many years to come. I’ve learnt better DIY skills and used tools I’d never heard of all the while keeping hold of all ten fingers and toes! All that’s left to say is thank you to John and Granville for the numerous cups of coffee that make the cold bearable.

Kerry

I would like to say a huge thank you to Kerry who has proved to be a dab hand with power drill and jig saw. She has unfailingly arrived on a Monday morning to cover acres of hardboard with magnolia or purple emulsion and always has a smile and a great sense of humour.

One of her great assets is that she always remembers where I have left my tape measure, screwdriver or pencil which saves me loads of time. The only time I felt worried was when I sent her up a ladder but with her previous experience in Dad’s Army she made it up and down safely!

I look forward to working with her on many sets and eventually watching her design her own.

Our flats are no longer white but a royal shade of purple so please come along to watch And Then There were None and see for yourselves.

John

 

 

Its only Narracot – yes him – the man who couldn’t be bought- oh hang on….

It’s the last of our victims !!!! Sorry suspects ……

Get your tickets !!

Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March – And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

You can get tickets here

 

Cluedo Narrocott - Greg

Who you ? My name is Greg Hill

Who you play ? My character is Narracot

What he ? He is an easy going fellow who transports people on his boat to and from places (provided he’s paid)

WTA ? …….the biggest mystery for me is what sort of phenomenon occurs inside the Bermuda triangle?

 

 

Show some respect – its the Director !

A bit different this time – its the man in charge !!

Get your tickets !!

Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March – And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

You can get tickets here

Cluedo Will - Will

 

Who are you ?

I’m Will Jamieson.

What’s you character ?

During the show run I am an audience member but until then I am the Director.

What’s he like ?

Trying to do his best duck impression (calm on top and paddling behind the scenes) as currently making sure he has listed out all the props, sounds and costumes for my various elves.

What’s the greatest mystery you know ?

What really happened to Alfred Loewwnstein in the 20’s. ( Who? – Ed) 

 

General mayhem !!!!

Here’s yet another suspect appearing in our next production at the Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March – And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

You can get tickets here

But in the meantime here is the very military and upright General Mackenzie – it seems he has a lot to say for himself !

Cluedo Mackenzie - Michael B

Who are you?

Michael ‘Lord’ Beavan

Who is your character?

General Mackenzie is a retired Army Officer and a widower.   Heavily decorated for his loyal service to King and Country and widely respected by those that he had spent his long career leading, John Mackenzie now finds himself at a loss with what to do in retirement.

What are they like?

The General is a likable fellow, always popular around his club, The Benton, where he moved ten years ago after his wife Lesley died.   ‘Living in the old place just wasn’t what it used to be, once she’d gone’ he can regularly be heard to mutter from his favourite winged back armchair next to the club library fireplace.

Having been used to being treated with the utmost respect and loyalty over his exemplary career, with retirement has come both loneliness and loss, not just from his beloved wife but also from those who would listen to him and ask for his wise leadership.    Now he wonders if he is starting to forget much of what he fought for and if anyone really cares what he has to say anyway?

Determined not to become maudlin, he decides, on a whim, to accept an invitation from some fellow he’s sure he met at the Club.    Whilst out of practice with social engagements; ‘Lesley always knew what to say and when to say it’ he chuckles to nobody in particular, he thinks a weekend on Soldier Island in Devon is just what he needs.  ‘Gives me a chance to tell some of my best battle stories to an unsuspecting audience’… and with that, he feels some of that old excitement returning to his veins…. ‘there’s life in the old dog yet’ ……… or is there?

What is the greatest mystery you knew?

I find a great many things in life a mystery – from making my monthly bank statements balance with my relocation of what I’d done over the same time period (strangely the bank always says I’ve spent more than I ever recollect I have)  to how you can put pairs of socks into a washing machine yet only get odd ones back by the time they return from the tumble dryer?!

In my younger days, the greatest mystery to me would be what had happened between that last ‘one for the road’ and waking up in a strange house/ garden/ location of indeterminate description many hours later!    Nowadays it’s more of a mystery to me when I walk from one room to another and then can’t quite remember what the purpose of the journey was for!

I do like the General – he likes order and detail just like me, not to mention a good tailor and well upholstered armchair, and whilst slightly confused at times (again like myself), is a likable fellow.   So for this play, it is a mystery to my why anybody at all would want to do him harm?!

Rogers by name …..

By far the most suspicious looking suspect we’ve seen by far so far – come and see if he dunnit in And Then There Were None at the Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March

Tickets Here 

Cluedo ROGERS - PW

NAME – Paul Winspear
CHARACTER  – Rogers
WHAT’S HE LIKE?
Tom Rogers (Tom to his friends, though he has none, so just plain Rogers will do) is the manservant on Soldier Island, tasked with his wife Ethel with making the guests feel at home. He’s a nonentity who wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, when it comes to humans… mu-hahaha
WHAT’S THE GREATEST MYSTERY YOU KNOW?
Why am I being so criminally underused yet again? How come Water Lane suddenly has so many posh members for this play? Why have Dorringtons stopped egg custard tarts again?
Crucial questions indeed – Ed

 

No relation to Louis …..

Here’s the next of our introductions to the dodgy lot appearing in our next production at the Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March – And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

You can get tickets here

But in the meantime – meet Dr Armstrong

Cluedo Armstrong - Amanda

Who are you ?
I am Amanda Green
What’s you character ?
My Character is Dr Armstrong
What’s she like ?
You ask me what my character is like. Well, Dr Armstrong is an eminent nerve specialist, and it makes her very nervous indeed to be asked to reveal such personal information. It goes against the Hippocratic Oath, and of course GDPR, to publicise such details. If you are interested in getting to know her a bit more intimately, you had better get a ticket to the production before they sell out.
What’s the greatest mystery you know ?
I still wonder to this day if Bill Stickers was really innocent, and if he was ever actually prosecuted?
I’ve always wondered that !- Ed

 

Are you alright Jack ?

Another victim …sorry, suspect appearing in our next production at the Rhodes Arts Complex 19th – 21st March – And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

You can get tickets here

But in the meantime – meet the dashing Tony Marston

Cluedo Marston - Jack

Who are you ?

Jack Stevens

Who is your character?

Anthony James Marston, or Tony to his friends or any ladies that catch his eye.

What’s he like?

An attractive, youthful and charming exterior hides Marston’s sociopathic and egotistical personality. Interested only in fast cars, expensive drink and pretty women, Marston has no concern for anyone but himself, and feels no remorse or guilt for his actions. A thrill-seeker to the core, Marston gladly throws himself into the mystery surrounding Soldier Island, ready to devote his energies to playing detective, to the disgust of his fellow guests.

What’s the greatest mystery you know?

This one is a family story. A relation of mine, George Stoner, was famously convicted for the murder of architect Francis Rattenbury, who was found with his head bashed in with a mallet. Stoner was having an affair Rattenbury’s wife Alma, and both admitted having committed the murder. Both were charged, but only Stoner was found guilty of murder. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment (reduced to seven years when he volunteered to fight in WWII) because of an outcry in public sympathy, with many believing Stoner, who was only 18, had been manipulated by Alma into killing her husband. Notably, whilst Alma was found innocent of all charges, she committed suicide a few days after the trial, prompting speculation on what were the circumstances around the murder, and who wielded the fateful mallet.

Stoner died in 2000, but my grandfather found out from Stoner’s mum the truth behind the murder, and who wielded the mallet. He promised one day to tell us, but unfortunately died before he could, taking the resolution to the mystery with him to his grave.

If these events seem familiar, it might be because they were adapted into a play by famed playwright Terrence Rattigan, entitled Cause Célèbre.

As a final note, because mallets came in pairs, we have the sister mallet to the murder weapon. Here’s hoping it never becomes the centre of a famous, theatre worthy murder mystery!