A Bunch of Amateurs

Date 16th March 2022
Society St Nicolas Players
Venue South Holland Centre
Type of Play
Director Jules Jones
Musical Director Amber Sinclair
Choreographer Lauren Bullock
Producer Joanna Hobbs
Written By Ian Hislop and Nick Chapman

Report

Author: Stuart Bull

I can remember when I was a mere lad, hearing a venerable director saying that members of the cast should never be seen front-of-house wearing costume. That old-fashioned advice is generally still observed though many productions now greet the arriving audience with one or two members of the cast in costume selling programmes. Thus I was greeted warmly on my arrival at the South Holland Centre by members of the St. Nicolas Players, including their president, Anthony Fell, dressed as newspaper hacks, and handed a copy of the very comprehensive full-colour programme - but no NODA insignia on the cover!

The plot of A Bunch of Amateurs will strike a chord with many NODA groups threatened by rising costs and theatre closure. It concerns the Stratford Players (based in a Suffolk village) who are faced with rising costs and the local council planning to close their theatre to boot. They write to Hollywood agents asking for help, and an all-action American actor whose star is fading sees the chance to salvage his career by playing King Lear at the Swan Theatre, Stratford -on-Avon. By the time he realises his mistake, he is trapped by all the international publicity that has been generated and, despite his best efforts to escape, he ends up playing Lear with “A Bunch of Amateurs”. The quality of the script is excellent, as you would expect from the authors, with lots of observational humour aimed at actors, both professional and amateur.

Director Jules Jones and producer Joanna Hobbs gave us a play that was on point. Musical and dancing interludes were completely in sympathy with the show and well-executed in Shakespearian style. The sound quality and lighting was good, and the scene changes were well-managed.

The principal characters were all well-cast, with Adam Patman playing an excellent brash American actor. Emma Dobbs as the worn-down director was sympathetically portrayed, and Richard Slade as the pompous would-be Lawrence Olivier (don’t we all know them?) was suitably irritating. The other principal characters (Laura Harwood, Glen Barker and newcomer Kelly Taylor) were all good, and Lauren Bullock as the savvy teenage daughter was very convincing. It was good that Jules had managed to include other members of the society into non-speaking accessory roles.

Props, set and costumes were apparently all done on a shoestring budget, though you wouldn’t have known it- nothing could be faulted.

So overall a great evening’s entertainment, with lots of chortles, a few outright guffaws and plenty of home truths for the amateur dramatics scene.

 

Stuart Bull

NODA Representative, District EM05