Much Ado about a Western !!

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Yes partner’s you heard it here first – we are taking Much Ado to the not just outdoors but out to the wild wild West – our sparkling new Director Andy Roberts tells all……
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Much Ado, Take Two
 
After Water Lane’s very successful production of Loves Labours Lost in 2017, I felt that it was time to step up to the plate and direct my first outdoor Shakespeare. The logical choice for me was Much Ado About Nothing.  It is a play that I know a lot about, having been in a production at Hertford theatre in 2014, playing Don Pedro. It is also one of people’s favourite Shakespeare comedies,  so it should get a good audience.
 
However, due to Hi De Hi being on mid-April, there was just not enough rehearsal time to do Much Ado justice. However when I had a great turn out for a read through back in November, I felt it was worth trying again this year. We are doing two afternoon performances 13 & 14 July at Gibberd Garden Old Harlow and then three evening performances on 18 to 20 July at the Monastery Gardens, Wind Hill.
 
I am a great believer that you can set Shakespeare in pretty much any time period, as long as you don’t change the language and characters, it just works. The production I was in was set at the end of World War One, as the play starts with Don Pedro, Benedick and Claudio returning from a war to visit Don Pedro’s friend, Leonato the governor of Messina.
 
So an idea came to me – could it be set in the 1870’s wild west?. It seemed the suit the story – why not make Messina a frontier town and Leonato the owner of a saloon bar (Leo’s Place maybe?). The men could be cowboys returning from one of the many wars settlers were fighting against native-American tribes over land. The ladies (Beatrice, Margaret and Ursula) could be show girls, working in the saloon. And of course the lawmen Dogberry and Verges could be a sheriff and his deputy.
 
Also the wild setting suited the wild characters of Beatrice & Benedick. It was also a setting that an audience can easily identify. It would be easy to costume and I had a wide array of western theme tunes to use.
 
I know some people had concerns that they would need to have a believable American accent. However, if you think about the diverse mix of European’s that populated America, you were more likely to hear Irish or Scots accents. I also thought about the 1993 film version of Much Ado. It was clearly set in Italy but had an array of English and American accents, but yet it still worked.  There is always the need for audiences to suspend their disbelief when watching any play. So, American accents are not required.
 
Hopefully I will get a good turn-out for auditions on 9 & 11 April. If you have never given Shakespeare a try, then Much Ado is a great one to start with. The story is easy to follow, there is plenty of humour and a wide range of parts from lots of lines (Benedick) to just a few lines (watchmen). We have a Hero, a plain dealing villain and a couple of fools, so maybe it was England’s first ever pantomime!?.
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Murder on the Nile – an overview from Bishop’s Stortford’s best local paper !!!

Water Lane Theatre Company to stage Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile at Rhodes – by Paul Winspear

Photos by Charlie Woofer 

JZD9YJW1XCZBOL84F1UFAward-winning Bishop’s Stortford drama group Water Lane Theatre Company returns to Rhodes Art Complex later this month with Agatha Christie’s classic crime thriller, Murder on the Nile.

Picture the scene: the romantic honeymoon cruise of a glamorous newlywed socialite. Sunsets and cocktails. Breath-taking views steeped in history. Deception and murder

3PWEU6GRK3JF2K2JDQ1PThe drama surrounds Kay Ridgeway, who, being blessed with beauty, wealth and a new husband, embarks on a honeymoon cruise on a paddle steamer on the Nile. But the idyllic surroundings are shattered by a shocking and brutal murder.

Under scrutiny is a host of colourful and memorable passengers, each with a reason to kill. They include the bitter and jealous ex-fiancée, a French maid, a cynic who isn’t all he seems, a doctor with a secretive past, the snobbish lady and her quite nice niece, the not-quite-sober captain of the ship and Kay’s guardian, Canon Ambrose Pennyfather, who simply wanted a holiday.

As tension builds, the startling truth is laid bare, with all the twists and turns of a classic Christie thriller to keep the audience guessing.

D2W4DPEG55VOI3WJQ9AVReviving his role as director, Granville Rush, who was at the helm of Water Lane’s superb Rhodes productions of ‘Allo ‘Allo! in 2015 and Dad’s Army in 2017, is looking forward to revisiting Agatha Christie, having also directed Cards on the Table at Rhodes in 2008.

“We’ve put on some really wonderful plays over the last six decades and take pride in producing really quality productions,” he said. “We’re always looking to challenge expectations with our genres. This will be no different.”

The unparalleled popularity of Agatha Christie, more than any other crime writer, lies in the combination of multi-faceted characters, inquisitive plots and often just a dash of the exotic. Her works have never gone out of fashion, always appealing to the curious human nature, leaving room for the imagination to run away with itself. As such, this is a story Christie reinvented several times.

Christie’s 1937 novel, Death on the Nile, started life as a play itself, Moon on the Nile. The full-length novel was preceded by a short story with the same title, but with Parker Pyne as the detective.

In 1942 an actor friend persuaded Christie to resurrect the stage version so that he could take on the role of Hercule Poirot. However, having tired of her “irritating little Belgian detective”, she rewrote the plot to exclude Poirot and introduce a new amateur detective to the plot, Canon Pennyfather.

The play opened in Dundee in 1944 under yet another name, Hidden Horizon, but eventually opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End in March 1946 as Murder on the Nile.

Thankfully, Water Lane have got to grips with the story’s identity crisis and, more importantly, they know whodunnit.

* Murder on the Nile runs at Rhodes from Thursday to Saturday, March 28-30, with 7.30pm evening performances and a Saturday matinee at 3pm. Tickets are £16 (concessions £14) for the evening shows and £12 for the Saturday matinee. Group special: buy nine, get a tenth free (evening only). Call the box office on 01279 710200 or online at www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk

Murder on the Nile – he’s smooth and suave – obviously a contender ….

Here’s another of our suspects , sorry , travellers up the Nile – the silky smooth Simon …Colour head shot - 2018

 

Who are you  – Michael Beavan

Who are you playing – Simon Mostyn

Tell us about him then …

Simon is a good looking, good tempered young man of (well lets say about 38 shall we…) with rather a simple, hearty manner.  Life is all rather a breeze for Simon it seems, having just married Kay Ridgeway, ‘the richest girl in England’ and on the surface, he appears to be adapting well to this newly found life of luxury and leisure.  But like so many who have chosen to take the cruise down the Nile on ‘The Lotus’, Simon has good reason to be worried about this particular journey,  because of a dark shadow in his past which may be just about to come back to haunt him and his beautiful new bride….

What’s your favourite line ?

‘Well you can’t go though the world thinking everybody is going to do you down.  I’ve always found it pays to trust people’.

( he did have another choice but out of context it was unpublishable – Ed)

Who do you reckon did it ?

Well that Christina is a dark horse if ever there was one.   Seemingly devoted to that frightful old bag of an Aunt of hers, but all the while wanting to get in with the younger ladies…… drooling over my wife Kay’s photographs in The Tattler, hanging on Jackie’s every word and following her around like a puppy, not to mention playing that sulky Smith fellow like the fool she will undoubtedly make of him… yes, I really think that our demure yet dowdy Christina is as sly and devious as Kay’s miserable maid Louise!

Is he right ? to find out you’ll have to come to the Rhodes Arts Complex on 28-30 March to see  – tickets here 

Murder on the Nile – is the Steward going to get you in the stew ?

Ooooh – its the sneaky Steward …has she been lacing the drinks ?

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Who are you ?

Marhaba. My name is Rachel Leung.

Who are you playing ?
I play the Egyptian Steward ( yes, hard to believe but use your imaginations)!
What’s she like then?
I am loyal to my Captain and take my job very seriously . In other words I do not want to lose my job.  I have little tolerance for these rich, arrogant Europeans who do not think I the English understand. I understand very well.
Your favourite line ?
My favourite of my 6 lines is “Get all afternoon sun” Actions speak louder than words in my case !
Who did it ?
Keep your eye on me and that sexy French maid, Louise may  know more than she makes out.
Is he right ? to find out you’ll have to come to the Rhodes Arts Complex on 28-30 March to see  – tickets here 

Murder on the Nile – She’s a laaaadyyy !! How’s this for a Valentine co-incidence though ….

Who are you ?
I am Amanda Green
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Who are you playing ?
I am playing Miss Ffoliot-ffoulkes in Murder on the Nile.
What’s she like ?
It is a wonderful part, as she is an old bag so I can just act naturally!! She has no time for anyone or anything other than herself and her petty needs, and commands attention no matter what else has been going on.
I understand you have a very special connection with the play ….
31 years ago today, (8th Feb) I arrived at the Mena House Hotel, where the Mostyns stayed on their arrival in Egypt (p27 in the script), before beginning a cruise on the Nile. Like them, I was on my honeymoon, arranged as a surprise destination for me by my (now late) husband. 6 days later, there was a knock on the door of the cabin: the steward was delivering a Valentine’s card to me that my husband had passed to him earlier.
What’s your favourite line ?
I had it in here before I went into dinner last night
Oooh -err …..
Who did it then ….
So if you ask me who do I think did it in the play, I have to go for the Steward, who has been asked just once too often to do yet another favour, and has had enough. Notice that although the Steward does not say too much, they are creeping around shiftily in many scenes. Hmm…. I wonder why……
Is she right ? to find out you’ll have to come to the Rhodes Arts Complex on 28-30 March to see  – tickets here 

Murder on the Nile – if anyone can Canon can….

Another character profile – this time its the most reverend of them all – doesn’t mean he didn’t do it though

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What’s your name ?

Richard Pink 

Who are you playing ? 

The very reverend and totally avuncular Canon Ambrose Pennyfather 

What’s he like ? 

Think Columbo in a dog collar and you won’t be far wrong. He has the gift of eloquence ( he does – I don’t ),  most people trust him but he’s got a twinkle in his eye and he’s possibly got a more colourful past than he’s letting on.

Who do you think did it ?

Much as I hate to say it – I think it might have been my own niece Kay – she’s got too much money, is a bit too removed from reality and never really thinks of the consequences of her actions – maybe she’s got bored with a few people ….

Is he right ? to find out you’ll have to come to the Rhodes Arts Complex on 28-30 March to see  – tickets here 

Murder on the Nile – she is ‘alf French and she ‘as ze hot blood – but did she do it ?

Another of our characters is up for your scrutiny …….

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What’s your name?

Becky Faulkner

What’s your Character and what they are like? 

Jacqueline De Severac

Jacqueline is a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. She’s harmless but with one look she can make the fiercest of people quake in their boots!

Your favourite line from the play ( your own)  –

‘I’m a devil I am….a devil!’

Who you think did it and why ?

I think the Canon looks a bit shifty. He’s too busy trying to pin things on other people. Is this so people won’t look to closely at him? He needs money and how else could he get it?! Maybe him and Simon are in it together?

Is she right ? to find out you’ll have to come to the Rhodes Arts Complex on 28-30 March to see  – tickets here