A review of Loves Labours Lost…all the way from India!

Ok, so I have to be careful, and be objective here. I’m here to review Water Lane Theatre Company’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost”. I’ll be honest: I’ve acted and directed in their plays for the last 15 years but this is the first time in probably 14 years where I’ve had absolutely nothing to do with one of their productions…so how on earth do I review it?

For a start, I live in India, but decided that I really, really, really wanted to see this play, despite having to travel to the UK to see it…in a single weekend. I’ll explain in a bit.
Why did I really, really, really want to see it? Because WLTC rocks with Shakespeare!

Short of travelling to the Globe, they’re the only game in town when it comes to performing the Bard – and play it well. Like RSC at the Globe, they also do minimal sets (as did the Elizabethan stage): their Shakespeares have always been set in the beautiful Monastery Gardens in Bishops Stortford: punters are invited to make an evening of it by bringing a picnic…and maybe the odd bottle of wine? Blankets tend to be a must because, no matter how warm it might be during the day, it’s normally fair to say that it will be chilly in the evening. So, location, tick.

Picnic, wine, blanket: ready to be entertained. What – Shakespeare entertaining – You must be kidding? No, not at all – Shakespeare CAN be entertaining, IF the audience is part of the show and the magic is provided. What’s the quote from Henry V when the chorus comes on stage?

Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts:
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance.
Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hooves i’th’receiving earth.
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times,
Turning th’accomplishment of many years
Into an hourglass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history,
Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray
Gently to hear, kindly to judge our play.

Basically, Shakespeare was saying to the audience, “forget the fact that we’ve no set, use your imagination!” – or words to that effect.

Right, back to LLL. Why does this involve the audience? Because of the gardens, because of the picnic (and possibly a lot to do with the wine), and that many entrances and exits are through the audience, giving the further feel that they are literally IN the play.

LLL isn’t an easy play to understand – it’s one of Bill’s earliest plays and certainly one of the wordiest. There’s a lot that was cut – everybody does it and, to be honest, you have to because some is just not relevant to the play, being commentary for the time. I didn’t read the synopsis in the program (which was funny!) so I had to really listen and think hard about what was being said and what the metaphors meant. But the actors knew what they were saying; They wanted to be part of this play, to be directed, to entertain the punters; They understood who they were and they understood the complexities of the plot, and that was enough to give that meaning to the audience too.

Costumes. I had a chuckle when Julius Caesar was recently performed in the USA and JC was dressed as Donald Trump causing some violent reactions from DT supporters. No such reactions or happenings here but it shows that, as with many of WS’s plays, period costume is not always necessary and it can be done in dress that is far removed from its time. LLL was no exception and the men in golf apparel and the ladies in Hen Weekend dresses was a fantastic decision. For a start it made it so much easier to provide costumes – believe me, making period costume is a specialism in itself and is a total distraction for the director, involving so many more people in the play – but, visually, it also made the play accessible for the audience from the very start. Tick.

Accents. Gone was the received pronunciation you often get with Shakespeare (who was a Brummie so was unlikely to sound like that anyway) and it was replaced with English regional accents. Oh, and a Spanish bloke with a great spanish accent, Don what-his-name. From what I hear this chap went to spanish pronunciation lessons. DED-EEE-CATION – Another tick.
The fun. The cast, genuinely looked like they were enjoying the play – by that I mean the jokes, the humour and the plot twists that was part of the story. The enthusiasm – and stupidity – by which the men were trying to convince the ladies of their genuine love was so funny, showing how little men have changed in over 400 years. The cunning of the ladies to confuse and fool the men still translates perfectly over 400 odd years later too. I think we all understood that.

The Music. I always loved watching RSC at the Globe use modern music to start and finish their plays, especially with the dancing at the end. It also reminded me of the film “A Knight’s Tale” which also had modern dance and music which just made you enjoy it more. This was no exception. Richard Pink, LLL director, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and his ability to choose a song to start, finish or stick in the middle of a scene is second to none (get a job on the next Tarantino movie RP!). The best I could manage would be to hum a tune but I would fail miserably remembering what the song was called or who sang it.

So, we end up with a finale, when the men and women are all coupled up, everything has worked out fine but – oh no! – Princess’s father has died, and it’s all quite sad. There IS morose a song at the end of LLL, but, instead, this was a perfect opportunity for a bit of Coldplay and a dance instead, right? Of course – We all clap, we love it, we’ve been entertained, we’ve been part of it, it’s finished the play off and everyone gets their money’s worth: all £5.50 worth. Read it again: Five parnds fifty. A steal. Tick again.

What does £5.50 buy you these day. A pint? Barely. A movie ticket? Noooo. A theatre ticket – not a chance. A standing place in the RSC Globe yard – absolutely. But, then again, why would you because you can’t eat your picnic, drink your wine, nor enjoy Shakespeare in the beautiful Monastery Gardens. Tick – Tick – Tick.

Maybe, now, you’ll understand why I travelled all the way from India to see this play (aside from seeing the surprise on everybody’s faces – I told nobody I was going!). Roll on next year!

A review from John Bell



The Accessibility of Local Theatre – Water Lane Theatre Company – review from Notjustthethreeofus

We have been keen followers of the Water Lane Theatre Company for some time now. Water Lane is an Amateur Theatre Group based in Bishop’s Stortford.

I have the good fortune to have a friend in the group which is how we stumbled upon Water Lane many years ago.
We attended our first show some years back and have remained keen followers. We have seen some cracking performances over the years.

A fellow blogger recently questioned why we don’t see many teens in the audience of the theatre these days.

The answer to this is quite simple for us. We live in London and for a family of three to go to the theatre, it is very expensive.

We adore theatre as a family but it is a treat and reserved for a special occasion.

However that is not to say that we aren’t always on the look out for alternative options and reduced ticket prices. The Not Just the 3 of Us family are always on the look out for a new experience.

And Water Lane is our special find.

The pièce de résistance is the annual production in the Monastery Gardens in Bishop’s Stortford in July.


We really look forward to this each year.

The setting is second to none.

The beautiful monastery gardens are an idyllic location. Couple this with the fact that the weather is always glorious and you have a perfect evening of summer entertainment for the whole family.

It is in these fabulous grounds that we are treated to the delights of a Shakespeare performance.

The Water Lane cast gave themselves a hard act to follow this year, after setting their own bench mark so incredibly high with their outstanding performance of Midsummer Nights Dream last July.


A stunning performance that left the audience wanting to do it all again. Pure brilliance that made its way into our journal of highlights for 2016.


This year the Monastery Gardens played host to Water Lane’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.


And it didn’t disappoint.

The crowd were arriving early as is usual for this event. Easily spotted with their picnic rugs, chairs and the delights of their hampers to secure their spaces on the lawn and catch the late evening sunshine before the performance.

One by one we saw the cast appear in their guises, crafting their characters in their own unique way.


Having the benefit of remembering many of them from previous performances, it is always a joy to see who has been cast in each role.



Undeterred by the ‘inaccessibility’ of a Shakespeare play, and particularly so with a lesser known play such as this, one can easily get the gist of the storyline by doing their research beforehand.

This is something that we would naturally do anyway to ensure our teen daughter has a general understanding. It was a necessity for us too this year.

But these performances can be enjoyed on many levels and in many ways.

Fans of the Bard can indulge in the comedy, history and tragedy of the underlying story because, as we know in the world of Shakespeare, there is much ‘seeming’ and ‘being’ and nothing is ever as it seems.

Others, with a brief understanding of the storyline can enjoy the simple pleasures of the performance as it plays out.

For younger children, the spectacle of the performance and the mystery of where the cast members may appear from – coupled with the singing and dancing, is enough to draw them away from anything remotely digital for an hour or two.


As dusk starts to fall, the sound of corks popping on this barmy evening is all that can be heard from the happy audience.



It is because of local drama groups such as these that we are able to access the very best of theatre that we may otherwise have to miss out on.

And it is only with the support of the public that these groups are able to continue to put on such fabulous performances.
I should add that the whole evening cost £16.50 (that’s £5.50 per ticket!!) plus the cost of a 30 minute car journey and a picnic.
Such an incredibly economic way to access the theatre for all.
And to all involved at Water Lane – BRAVO!

Thank you for a wonderful evening! We will be back.
The good news is that this performance is running for a further two days next weekend at the Gibberd Garden, Harlow. You can purchase tickets by clicking on the flyer below. The weather is set to be perfect again for the weekend.

With the summer holidays approaching, I thoroughly recommend doing a little research into local theatre groups where you live. I am sure that there are many groups out there to cater for all tastes and pockets.


Source: http://notjustthe3ofus.com/lifestyle/accessibility-local-theatre-water-lane-theatre-company/

A labour of Love for Local Theatre Lovers – Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Monastery Gardens

1st June 2017 – Bishops Stortford: Following Water Lane Theatre Companies last Summer smash hit Shakespeare success with their sell out, open air performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the troupe will be reprising the Bards work this season with a thoroughly modern take on Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Monastery Gardens in Bishops Stortford, the scene will unfold for a group of studious sportsmen to swear allegiance to each other and their single minded wish to study, only to be smitten with the arrival of four socially superior sirens who will steal their hearts and set them against each other, all in the name of love.

If that is not enough muddle to meddle with, both learned lords and lumbering lackeys leap to all the wrong conclusions, adding to the general confusion of exactly who is who and whom may not be quite as they first may seem…. which makes falling in love with the right person, all that more tricky to achieve!!

Love and laughter abound in aid of The Isabel Hospice; Water Lane Theatre Company will perform Love’s Labour’s Lost in The Monastery Gardens, Windhill, Bishops Stortford on the evenings of 6th, 7th and 8th July 2017.

Truly enjoy the open air performance in style by packing a picnic basket, rugs and seating, bring your family and friends and once you have perused the local stallholders (including a Hog Roast), settle back to some classic British theatre for a summer evening.

Doors open at 6pm, performances begin at 7.30pm. Tickets £5.50 (including booking fee).

Tickets and information available from: www.waterlanetheatrecompany.co.uk or

The Tourist Information Centre, Market Square.




Editors notes:

For further details about this performance or Water Lane Theatre Group, please contact:

Michael Beavan, Production Manager, Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Mobile – 07958 660708

Email – michael@productionpublicity.com

One Act One Night – 26th June

One Act One night

With our mini festival of one act plays fast approaching on the 26th June we’ve asked our three new directors on why they wanted to take part

Heres what they said ….

Nancy Jones – Directing ‘Erica and Me’

‘Since joining the group eight years ago I have mainly only acted and watched in awe as the directors and the very talented back stage people put together productions.   Then last year Granville asked me to be his Production Manager for ‘Allo Allo’ and I got to see a different side to Amateur Theatre. It’s not all about being in the spotlight!   Directing a play for 1A1N feels like the next step in becoming a fully rounded member of the Group and who knows it may lead to me directing a full production one day!

I am really looking forward to working with my extremely talented cast and alongside Lisa and Ellie my fellow 1A1N directors to put on, what I hope, is a really entertaining night!

Fingers crossed that I don’t cock it up!   It will be alright on the night won’t it!?’

Lisa Turpcu – Directing ‘A cut above the rest’

Granville first suggested I consider having a go at directing shortly after our Water Lane production of “Calendar Girls”. Deborah Cain (director of CG) would always be a very tough act to follow! So I laughed and said I didn’t know the first thing about directing. (Nancy can confirm she still has to remind me what the term “blocking” means.) Hope this revelation isn’t too concerning for the cast of my upcoming OAON play! I’ve successfully dodged this role for three years. Granville’s not an easy man to say no to, so when he mentioned it again, I somewhat apprehensively agreed to give it a go. I chose a comedy, “A Cut Above The Rest”, which compliments the two other really funny plays to be directed by Nancy and Ellie. My great 10-strong cast and I start rehearsals tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it. So here’s to a great night out on the 26th of June!

Elle Sims – Directing ‘Two Peas in a Pod’

Why am I doing OAON? Well firstly Granville has been saying I should direct and I was dubious at first. Then he mentioned Liam’s 10minute play which I thought would be a perfect foray into directing. OAON is a really good way to get lots of members involved and a nice starting place for new members to get themselves known. Plus being a member of the committee discussing different plays for the whole cast I’m finding myself more drawn towards directing in a bigger way.

Blow-up dolls, bangers and big boobies as Stortford theatre says Allo Allo to stage version of classic TV sitcom

BLOW-UP dolls, super-sized sausages and big boobies, with a cockatoo thrown in for good measure, might have Rhodes regulars thinking that the Bishop’s Stortford theatre has a saucy new stage strategy for 2015.

But the inflatables are of Nazi leaders Hitler and Goering, the big bangers are knockwurst, the cockatoo is a disguised radio and the big boobies are on the portrait of The Fallen Madonna by Van Klomp, which can all mean only one thing – it’s ‘Allo ‘Allo!

Subtlety and political correctness go out of the window for three days at Rhodes next month as award-winning Stortford amateur drama group Water Lane Theatre Company brings to life the stage version of the classic 1980s and 90s TV sitcom, which was set in wartime France.

Rehearsals by the 15-strong cast for four performances of the show on February 12, 13 and 14 have been going on since early November.

Those who fondly remember the TV series, which ran for 10 years and 85 episodes from 1982, will be happy to hear that the stage version retains all the characteristics of the small-screen sitcom: it’s a fast-paced, full-on farce, totally inappropriate but totally hilarious, and features a comic feast of cultural clichés and ridiculous fake accents. What’s more, if you yearn for a night of doubles entendres, this show will give you one.

‘Allo ‘Allo! was created and written by the late David Croft and Essex-born Jeremy Lloyd, who died only two days before Christmas. They also created Are You Being Served?

Its premise was not to make fun of the war but to spoof war-based films and TV dramas, in particular 1970s BBC1 drama Secret Army, which dealt with the activities of a Belgian “escape line” that returned Allied pilots to Britain, working from a café. Many of the elements and characters are directly taken from Secret Army, such as the café owner having an affair under the nose of his wife, a bed-ridden woman in a room above who knocks on the floor for attention, a pianist who is also the forger, and the enmity between the Gestapo and the German military.

Rene, a beleaguered café owner in the French village of Nouvion, is beset by his tone-deaf singing wife Edith, Nazis of dubious intent, amorous waitresses, an extremely earnest contact in the Resistance whose orders he follows reluctantly, a womanising Italian captain and an English spy posing as a gendarme who murders the French language every time he opens his mouth.

The Water Lane production – which will culminate in two performances on Valentine’s Day – features Liam Sheils as Rene, Rachel Leung as Edith, Rebecca Faulkner and Juliet Richards as Rene’s waitresses and mistresses Yvette and Mimi, Lisa Turpcu as Resistance leader Michelle, John Bell as Officer Crabtree and veteran Don Cooke as pianist and forger LeClerc.

On the enemy side, Water Lane chairman Richard Pink is Gestapo officer Herr Flick, Amanda Green his aide Helga, Nigel Sudworth as Gruber, Richard Lewin as General von Schmelling, Doug Sheppard as Colonel von Strohm and Observer editor Paul Winspear as Italian army captain Alberto Bertorelli.

Greg Hill and Trevor Siederer complete the speaking cast as airmen Carstairs and Fairfax. There are non-speaking parts for Emma Pink, Amanda Sheppard, Ellie Sims and Kerry Wheeler.

The production is being sponsored by Belleve Hair and Beauty, which has been trading from the former Parsonage Surgery premises in Snowley Parade since late 2012.

It is run by friends Carol Copper, who has been hairdressing since she was 13 and used to own Strand hairdressers on the Havers Lane estate, and Esther Brewer, the salon’s beauty therapist, who has more than 20 years’ experience.

Tickets are £15 per ticket (concessions £12.50) with one ticket free with every group booking of eight or more. Contact Rhodes on (01279) 710200 or online at http://www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk.

Read more: http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/Stage-version-classic-80s-TV-sitcom-coming-Rhodes/story-25884573-detail/story.html#ixzz3PTtCj3Fa
Follow us: @HertsEssexObser on Twitter

Allo Allo Hits Rhodes in February

LISTEN very carefully – we shall say zis only wurnce! Award-winning Bishop’s Stortford amateur drama group Water Lane Theatre Company is venturing into war-torn France for the stage version of 1980s TV sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo!

Rehearsals by the 15-strong cast for four performances of the show at Rhodes in Stortford next February (12-14) begin in earnest on November 4.

It’s a fast-paced, full-on farce, totally inappropriate but totally hilarious, featuring a comic feast of foreign stereotypes and doubles entendres.

Rene, a beleaguered café owner in the French town of Nouvion, is beset by his tone-deaf singing wife Edith, Nazis of dubious intent, amorous waitresses and an extremely earnest contact in the Resistance whose orders he follows reluctantly.

Those who fondly remember the TV series, which ran for 10 years from 1982, will be relieved to hear that it features German sausages, an Italian captain who has spent more time servicing Fiats and ‘bee-youtifulla lay-dies’ than time at the front and an Englishman posing as a French policeman who clearly can’t speak the language – not to mention the masterpiece painting ‘The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies’ by master knocker painter Van Klomp.

The production – which will culminate in two performances on Valentine’s Day – features Liam Sheils as beleaguered cafe owner Rene, Rachel Leung as his wife Edith, Rebecca Faulkner and Juliet Richards as his waitresses and mistresses Yvette and Mimi, Lisa Turpcu as Resistance leader Michelle, John Bell as Officer Crabtree and Don Cooke as Leclerc.

On the enemy side, Water Lane chairman Richard Pink is Gestapo officer Herr Flick, Amanda Green his aide Helga, Nigel Sudworth as Gruber, Richard Lewin as General von Schmelling, Doug Sheppard as Colonel von Strohm and Observer editor Paul Winspear as Italian army captain Alberto Bertorelli.

Teenagers Matthew Port and Ryan Bull complete the speaking cast as airmen Carstairs and Fairfax. There are non-speaking parts for Emma Pink, Amanda Sheppard, Ellie Sims, Kerry Wheeler, Greg Hill and Trevor Siederer.

Tickets are £15 per ticket (concessions £12.50) with one ticket free with every group booking of eight or more. Contact Rhodes on (01279) 710200 or online at http://www.rhodesbishopsstortford.org.uk

Read more: http://www.hertsandessexobserver.co.uk/Water-Lane-Theatre-Company-tap-TV-gold-Allo-Allo/story-23109049-detail/story.html#ixzz3OuGDFD83
Follow us: @HertsEssexObser on Twitter

Stortford’s Water Lane Theatre Company keeps it in the family for summer production


STORTFORD’S Water Lane Theatre Company has put the focus firmly on families for its latest production – in more ways than one.

Not only is next weekend’s open-air picnic production of The Storytellers – which focuses on four popular fairy tales – aimed at bringing family members together, but several of the cast are related.

The production is directed by husband and wife John and Pam Johnson-Cook, who have a long association with the Bishop’s Stortford amateur drama group.

Fellow member Jacqui Kinnison, who has been with Water Lane for more than 35 years, acted with Pam in her first play, Harliquinade, in the late 1980s.

Having taken on many roles since then, Jacqui says she is delighted to be acting this summer with granddaughters Annalise, 12, and Grace, 9.

Annalise, who has acted with Water Lane before in The Country Wife, will play a page and a robber, while Grace, making her debut, will take on the roles of a clockwork nightingale and an elf.

Both girls said they were “excited to be following in Nana’s footsteps”.

Sisters Kerry Wheeler, 18, and Ellen, 14, will play princesses and robbers in the production.

Kerry performed in the company’s previous production, The Cherry Orchard, and after Ellen saw how much fun she had she decided to sign up, too.

Sarah O’Flaherty acted at school and at university and has been with Water Lane for three years.

This year, her daughters Sophie, 10, and six-year-old Evie are taking part for the first time, playing a nightingale and an elf respectively.

They have taken part in productions at Northgate Primary School and with Phoenix Theatre.

Sophie says she is looking forward to acting in a big production while Evie says that although she is a bit nervous, it is “great fun” and she has made lots of new friends.

Performances of The Storytellers will take place in the Monastery Gardens in Windhill on Saturday, July 19 at 2pm and 6pm, and on Sunday, July 20 at 2pm.

Tickets are £10 for adults, £5 for children and £25 for a family ticket.

They are available at http://www.waterlanetheatrecompany.co.uk and at the Tourist Information Centre.

If it rains, the performances will be held in St Michael’s Church.