A Man For All Seasons

Date 10th November 2023
Society Neston Players
Venue Neston Civic Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Martin Riley
Sound Andrew Rymer
Lighting Mike Palmer
Written By Robert Bolt

Report

Author: Jake Powell

Neston Players were back on stage with their production of Robert Bolt’s ‘A Man For All Seasons’, directed by Martin Riley.

Direction, on the whole, was good. The cast were secure in their movements and blocking. The set was simple, with a screen at the back for projections, with staging blocks in front of it, which helped give levels to the set. The projections helped set the location of each scene. There was a table and chairs stage left, which were moved for different scenes to denote different locations. There was a bench stage right that was used throughout. Unfortunately, it did block the scene with Sir Thomas More in his jail cell, which was set behind the bench and More on the floor for some of the scene. The basket filled with costumes and props was utilised well, helping with the pace of the production. It is a very long production, and the pace in Act One was good. The pace slowed during Act Two, so could have been looked at to ensure the pace was kept up. The costumes were a particular highlight of the production. Well done to Ally Sullivan for your work on costumes.

Lighting and sound were relatively basic, but it didn’t really need much. The blue for the river was good, offering some variance. The images used for the projections for the different settings were well sourced and appropriate. Just be careful that there
are no signs of the modern times in the pictures being used.  The standout performance of this production came from Pauline Garland as The Common Man. It was a performance full of confidence, as the link between the
audience and the story. Pauline commanded the stage, going from direct address to performing in a scene with ease. This truly was an engaging performance.

Michael Kennedy gave an assured performance as Sir Thomas More, portraying a wide range of emotions throughout. It was a captivating performance, full of sincerity and truth. Michael has a good stage presence and created believable relationships with the majority of the cast.

Matthew Smith played Mister Richard Rich. This was a convincing performance from Matthew, able to show the character’s thirst for power.

Charles Riley played The Duke of Norfolk. Charles has a good stage presence, which you are instantly drawn to. He played the conflicts of the character well, giving a very good performance.

Fleur Smith gave a solid performance as Lady Alice More. To find out that she very recently joined the cast as a cast replacement was impressive. She delivered a good performance.

Grace Stanger gave a mature performance as Lady Margaret More. There were some good stage relationships developed. This was a convincing performance from this young performer.

Richard Dodd played both Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII. Richard created two entirely characters through voice and posture. If it wasn’t for the programme, you would have thought it was two different actors! This was an excellent performance from Richard.

Neale Cooper played Signor Eustace Chapuys. Neale had a good air of authority in this role. However, the pace did drop in his scenes. Neale’s vocal clarity was good.

Ina Schmidt played Chapuys Attendant. With not much to say, most of Ina’s performance was done through her reactions. She was animated throughout and it was clear from her reactions how she was feeling.

Robert Page did well as William Roper. He held his own against the more experienced members of the cast, delivering a good character. Work on a more natural delivery, to further enhance your performance.

Carl Howard was engaging as Sir Thomas Cromwell. Carl’s command for the stage was excellent and there was a nicely developed character.

Sarah McGinty did well in her cameo role of Catherine Anger. Although a minor character, Sarah really packed a punch and made an impact.

Geoff Wright gave a dignified performance as Thomas Cranmer. He had an air of authority that really suited his character.

Overall, this was a good production. There were some outstanding performances, excellent costumes and some good direction.

Thank you to Neston Players for their kind invite and hospitality.  All the best for your next production.