Theatre in the Fields – or the Dragon Strikes Back!




Following our Carnival performance of the Brent Pelham Dragon. We were invited to perform at the Theatre in the Fields Festival in Furneux Pelham.

This was a brand new Theatre Festival based at Brook Cottage Farm in the fields of Furneux Pelham aiming to bring a full day of theatre in all shapes and sizes!​

The team behind it was The Big Room Theatre Company, comprising of Artistic Director Lee Dillon-Stuart (Actor|Director), Creative Director Hester Tingey (Writer|Actor), Creative Director Tabitha Tingey (Actor|Certified Yoga Instructor) and Chloe Tingey (Musician|Digital Marketing Consultant) who joined forces with Brook Cottage Farm’s Louise & Russell Seddon (Proprietors) and Caroline Noble (Events Organiser) .

It was designed to be a magical day out, chock-a-block full of amazing shows, food, yoga, creative activities, weird and wonderful performances and general festival cheer, deep in the Hertfordshire countryside.

Facilities included :-

BAE’s Barn Theatre: The Main Stage, a beautiful newly-built 80-seat venue. Produced theatre in its fullest form. Plus some Edinburgh Fringe previews and stand-up Comedy.

Black Box Barn: A 50-seat venue in the hay bale barn. A chance to see some new work, cabaret, spoken word, one woman/one man shows, children’s entertainment.

The Yoga Tent: Yoga and mindfulness to get you in your creative flow.

The Colts’ Paddock: Interactive kids’ theatre, acting workshops, storytelling, clowning workshops, improvisation

Some of the events in the programme were:-

Stageys in the Stixxm – A brand new cabaret created for Theatre in the Fields, starring Performers from Broadway and London’s West End!

Angela Barnes – BBC New Comedy Award winner, ANGELA BARNES performed  a work-in-progress of her brand-new hour of jokes!

BUMP! A fast-paced, highly physical new play.

How to Cope with Embarrassment ​Two Pale Ladies, and their new pale mate (Ben Hudson; Splutter Theatre) presented How to Cope with Embarrassment, an irreverent showcase of what makes us tick, blush, cringe and silently scream.

Did it Hurt?​  Two strangers share a room. Once inside, they cannot leave.

Abigail Carter-SimpsonStand up comedienne, bringing along her singing and mediocre ukulele playing for moral support!

Games and After Liverpool​  Two 30 minute absurd, comic plays, which run back to back.

The Art of Skipping ​ Brand new mysterious and mystical musical.

DICK!  ​Richard ‘Dick’ Head – world renowned comedian, bingo-caller extraordinaire and National Geographic’s Moustache of the Year!

The Turn of the Screw A night of spine-chilling horror in Henry James’ classic ghost story.

Burning Tails  Burning Tails is a one-man tragicomedy piece following a series of heart breaking events within a fox’s romantic life

Three Menopausal Maids – Three Menopausal Maids are hot and guaranteed to tickle your Tena Ladies and Starring our own Linda Shelverton.

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It was good to see some of Water Lane’s members involved as directors and actors.

Well done Cat Quigley, Becky Faulkner, Linda Shelverton, Amanda Green, Jacqui Kinnison, Sam Soames, Nicki Maguire, Ben Maclean, Sally Fenton, John and Pam Johnson-Cook, Les and Carys Sullivan and the children Imogen, Izzy and Mags.

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We performed the Brent Pelham Dragon twice at 1.00pm and 3.00pm in the outdoor Haybale arena in lovely sunshine but battling a very blustery wind which was playing havoc with the various tents and gazebos. We received some kind and enthusiastic comments afterwards and met up with a gentleman who was writing a book about Piers Shonks, our hero, and who was keen to stay in touch.

In all the day turned out to be  a great success and the varied and high quality programme was a tribute to the organisers and performers .Hopefully this stimulating Festival will become an annual event. Improvements in advertising and signage to the venue should increase visitor numbers and I hope that Water Lane will be able to perform at the Festival again.

John Johnson-Cook , Director: The Brent Pelham Dragon


The thoughts of our new Chairman – Mr Granville Rush

The thoughts of Chairman Moi

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I always thought of myself as someone who quietly gets things done in the background, which I started doing with Water Lane Theatre Company thirty-something years ago when a certain dental practitioner roped me in to helping out backstage with the set and promotional artwork. All of a sudden, I found myself centre stage under the spotlight as the Wizard of Oz. I’m still not quite sure how that happened, and I haven’t been able to get off the stage since! I find myself in a similar situation now. There I was, minding my own business, when the “un-namely” nominated me to become Chairman at the AGM. So here I am again, centre stage, and a bit bemused as to how it happened.

All joking aside, I’m honoured to be fulfilling this post, and to have been asked. Water Lane is so much more than a local am-dram group. Fast  approaching 70 years since the group was founded, Water Lane is a staple in the community. Third generation members are on the scene, and lifelong friendships have been made. There are no prima donnas here. Members get the opportunity to challenge and express themselves, try something new and have a lot of laughs along the way. We aren’t one trick ponies either; from punk Shakespeare and period dramas, to comedy nights, 70’s nostalgia and murder mysteries. There really is something for everyone.

The outgoing Chairman (the previously mentioned dentist, now x) achieved great things in the last three years, so I’ve got a big cavity to fill. However, In the same way when directing, the secret of a successful show is to have a strong cast. Where the chair is concerned it is a strong committee. Fortunately for “Moi” there could not be a better dedicated committee in place to help with an exciting line up of productions in the coming months. That’s what I’m looking forward to most, heading up the team and putting on high-quality, diverse productions. Summer picnic plays, studio productions and big show stoppers, not to mention street theatre, drama festivals and our regular ‘One Act, One Night’ performances. As always, we will have plenty of socials, playreadings and quizzes, and everyone will have a chance to muck in.

Of all the roles I’ve been roped into over the years, I’m really proud to be cast as the latest in a long line of distinguished Water Lane Chairmen, and I hope that I am worthy of the job. A daunting one, but as Dorothy said “All you have to do, Toto, is click your heels together and you are on your way.”

Granville Rush – Chairman – Water Lane Theatre Company


John Wetherall

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It is with great sadness that we have to tell you that John Wetherall passed away last week.
He had been seriously ill for quite some time, and for him a release, but doesn’t make the loss any easier

John was a founder member of Water Lane and played the lead in many of the early productions

His stage presence was second to none, and he was equally happy in roles involving many different moods and characterisations
He moved to The Hadham Players but we still kept in close contact, and John was guest speaker at out 60th Anniversary Dinner at Great Hadham Golf Club
His last role was the photographer in When We Are Married for The Hertford Players, to which he brought comedy and pathos. Also in the cast was Andy Roberts as one of the hapless husbands and whom we welcomed for his enthusiasm and commitment.
John will long be remembered for his Dames. The Little Hadham Pantomimes were brought alive by his characterisation, timing and wit.
John also had a series of monologue cameos, the most famous one being his Uncle Charlie with a string of hilarious one liners and jokey tales. Forever in memory the picture of Uncle Charlie riding on his bicycle, down hill, with a grandfather clock strapped to his back taking it to be repaired. He fell off and a bystander was heard to remark (in Johns lovely “farmer Giles” accent) “why don’t ‘e wear a wrist watch like any other sensible bloke?” There is another one about a squirrel but maybe not for now!!

There is so much more to John’s life, but as Water Lane, we wanted to pay tribute to our common love, the theatre, the “smell of the grease paint, the roar of the crowd!!!
God bless John. Sock it to them on the great big stage in the sky

Funeral arrangements: Tuesday August 28th at 12 noon,
Haileybury College Chapel, Hertford Heath.
No black by request
No flowers but donations to Action For Pulmonary Fibrosis
Or Heart Foundation if you so wish.

Blog by Water Lane Theatre Company President  – Pat Bastin

The thoughts of Chairman John

After 3 years in the Chair our illustrious Chairman John Johnston- Cook has made way – we gave him a warm hand on his exit at the AGM and asked him for his thoughts about being in charge for the last 3 years – here’s what he said


When the chair of Water Lane Theatre Co became vacant I had an inexorable feeling that it was the right time to step up to the mark having managed to keep a low profile for the past 33 years! Having seen the group develop over that period I had come to realise what a special company of friends we are.

We are all members intent on enjoying the various rewards that being part of a dramatic production can offer whether it be onstage,backstage or offstage at social gatherings.

What is special about Water Lane is the support that each member gives to the others in helping to develop their skills and the chance to put those skills into practice in order to produce as professional performance as possible.

Continuing and encouraging this was my main aim as Chairman as well as promoting the standing of the company in the local community.

To this end I actively encouraged  members to take on new roles helped by others with more experience. We are very lucky in that we have some very talented actors and directors who can pass on their skills and as a consequence we have an increasing fund of accomplished members. We are equally able to put on large scale productions at Rhodes and small street productions at the behest of the Town Council. I feel these are just as important.  We have experienced directors of Shakespeare and also those willing to take us in new directions.

I have been incredibly impressed with the standard of our productions both large and small over the last three years.

I see the Chairman’s role as striving to expand our horizon’s and giving every member the chance to develop their skills at the same time having fun and enjoying each other’s company socially. I feel we need to encourage more people to take part in supporting roles such as costume, production management and set production as these often prove difficult to fill and are equally as important as treading the boards.

With the future of venues in the town now being uncertain one of my most important concerns has been to keep up to date with Council proposals and I feel that going forward we should use our contacts in the town to make sure that that our best interests are served.

I feel I should thank thewhole society for the support I have received during my Chairmanship. Also special thanks to my committee for the everyday running of the society without which we would not be able to function.

I am happy that we have a vibrant and forward thinking attitude and that the diversity of group will continue to enhance  both the social and the theatrical endeavours of Water Lane Theatre Company.

With many thanks



The Brent Pelham Dragon – all our own work !!!

Early this year the Town Council  asked Water Lane Theatre Company to participate in the Carnival which had the theme of community. After some research we found a story about a Knight called Piers Shonks who lived in Brent Pelham, originally called Burnt Pelham because of a marauding dragon. Piers eventually killed the dragon and saved his community. He upset the Devil because the dragon was a favourite pet . He cursed Piers and said that he would neither be buried inside or outside a church when he died. At the end of his life Piers fired an arrow and said he would be buried where it landed. It landed in the North wall of the Church and there he was buried neither inside or outside but in the wall itself and if you visit the church in Brent Pelham today you can see his tomb in the wall.

We thought this would make a good basis for a short play aimed at families and children.  Carys Sullivan kindly offered to help me with  the script for this and also borrowed our  dragon and some props from friends who had used them in mummers plays. Becky Deal found a song about Piers and Les Sullivan created a tune which we used in our introduction to the play.  We were very pleased to have a family involvement from our Water Lane members . Sally and her daughters Sophie and Evie, Jacqui and her daughter Sam and her daughter Izzy were all keen to take part along with Will and Becky, John and Pam and Amanda and David Middlemiss.  We started rehearsals for this at the end of May at the URC Church Hall and then moved outside to the Southern Country Park. Passers looked a bit stunned and a very excited beagle was keen to take part. On the day everything went smoothly . Four of us walked in the procession and our performance of “The Brent Pelham Dragon” at 3.45 pm in the Bandstand arena was very well received by a  vocal family audience . We also made contact with Hester and Lee from Furneaux Pelham who are putting on a Festival at the end of July called Theatre in the Fields. They would like us to do two performances at their Festival on July 28th. We now need a couple more volunteers from the members to replace those who are going to be away in July so please contact John (  if you are keen to take part. It is a compliment that the Town Council ask us to take part in these public events and I feel it is important to continue these performances. There will be another opportunity to perform at the Christmas Fayre in December so if you have any good ideas and would be prepared to direct please contact John.


Report from John Johnson-Cook, director


Noda Review of Hi-de-Hi


“Hi-De- Hi!”

Directed by Doug Sheppard

Reviewed at Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishops Stortford on Friday 20 th April 2018

I was really looking forward to seeing this production as I remember how I used to love watching Hi-De- Hi on TV back in the 80’s. Would the cast really be able to convincingly re-create these diverse characters to meet the audience’s expectations? Of course they would, and with the attention to detail that I had come to expect from this society.

The characters in this classic comedy are a mixed bunch, each with their own story to tell. Most would have you believe that being part of the entertainment team at Maplin’s Holiday Camp is a far cry from their real calling.

Lisa Turpcu was just perfect as head Yellowcoat Gladys Pugh, displaying all the mannerisms, including the sideward glances, we have come to expect of the character. Her Welsh accent was quite amazing. The object of Gladys’ desire, holiday camp director Jeffrey Fairbrother, was very well played by Kevin Stemp who really captured this dithering character, a man completely out of his comfort zone. I loved the scene where he has too much to drink but is determined not to let his guard down. This was a terrific piece of controlled acting.

A terrific performance also by Kerry Wheeler as Peggy Ollerenshaw, the chalet maid whose dream is to be a Yellowcoat. Always eager to please everyone, this character had the audience on side from the start as she brought out the comedy in every line. Very well done.

There were other good performances from Lynda Shelverton and Granville Rush as Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves. I did feel though that Barry could have been more camp as befits the character and wouldn’t it have been nice to see these two give a demonstration of their ballroom skills? According to the programme though this would have been a step too far!

Andy Roberts as Ted Bovis, always on the lookout to make a fast buck and Adam Andrews as Spike made a good pairing. Richard Pink as Fred Quilly, Les Sullivan as Mr Partridge and Amanda Green as Hilary Bovis ably supported the main cast, as did Greg Hill as Mr Pritchard, the policeman on holiday whose crucial evidence saves Glady’s blushes. John Johnson-Cook as The Bailiff along with the other Yellowcoats played by Corrina Graham-Hodson (Sylvia), Sally Fenton (Tracy), Rachel Jackson (Betty) and Fleur Lousie Oliver (Dawn) completed the line-up.

The split stage with Mr Fairbrother’s office stage right, the Staff Room stage left, and the Radio Maplin desk on the apron worked well, and together with the use of the floor in front of the stage for the other scenes, minimised the need for long pauses during scene changes.

The costumes were excellent. Sound was good and for the most part so was the lighting. There were just one or two instances on the evening I attended when the lights did not appear on cue. That said, this was an excellent production. It moved at a good pace, was true to the series and above all, Peggy gets her very own yellow blazer.

Congratulations to director Doug Sheppard, with whom I managed to have a brief word after the performance, and to the cast and everyone else involved. Another very enjoyable evening’s entertainment from this talented company.

Decia Ranger


District 7

Oh I say – Its Barry !!! Hi De Hi



It’s less that a week until Hi De Hi at the Rhodes Arts Complex and we caught up with our very own Granville Rush who is taking on the onerous task of being Barry Stuart- Hargreaves ( aka Bert Pratt) in our production

We asked him why he wanted the part so much –

‘ Well Barry appeals to me – he’s incredibly camp, stubborn, acerbic and determined to cause trouble – its refreshing to have a role that requires me to do no acting at all…’

And then he pushed us aside and said he had better things to do – charming !

If you can bear to come and see the lovely Barry and everyone else get your tickets here