BlackAdder II - The Elizabethan Years

Date 24th February 2022
Society Chorley Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society
Venue Chorley Theatre, Dole Street, Chorley
Type of Production Play
Director Kath Ashworth - Barry Ashworth
Producer Barry Ashworth

Report

Author: Jim Briscoe

BlackAdder II – The Elizabethan Years a play staged by Chorley Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society (CADOS) at Chorley Theatre, Dole Street, Chorley on Friday, 24th February, 2022.

BlackAdder was a huge BBC television sitcom in the mid 1980’s’ written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, which follows the misfortunes of Edmund Blackadder (Played in the sitcom by the comedy genius that is Rowan Atkinson). BlackAdder II – The Elizabethan Years is set in the 16th Century Royal Court of Queen Elizabeth and is based on Series 2 of the sitcom.  The play follows Blackadder as a courtier attempting to win the Queens favour whilst avoiding having his head cut off. As always, he is aided and abetted by his clueless servant Baldrick and grudging friend Lord Percy. BlackAdder acquires a new servant ‘Bob’ who isn’t all that he/she is cracked up to be!  There are accidental beheadings, backstabbers, more plots, more schemes and BlackAdder is determined to be at the centre of them all!

When I read that cast list, I knew I was in for a wonderful evening!  There is little doubt that CADOS have a wonderful array of talent to call upon to fill roles in all their productions and BlackAdder was no different!  Kath Ashworth (Director) Barry Ashworth (Co Director and Producer) had assembled a talented and enthusiastic cast who were well rehearsed and as soon as those curtains opened, were ready to give it their all, which was so very much appreciated by the society’s loyal supporters!  Be ever so proud Kath and Barry of what you created and what was achieved that night… well done both of you!  

Without knowing for certain, I would suggest that one of the biggest challenges in staging this play, was how to comfortably jump between the many short scenes without disrupting the flow of the play!  CADOS achieved this by setting up three distinct areas … BlackAdder’s house, The Throne Room and a third generic area created in front of a set of black curtains, which was for any other setting required. Using lighting to depict the area being used, this allowed the action to flow and slip between scenes smoothly without too much interruption for the audience.  This worked really well and although we did have one- or two-timing issues with some of the lighting cues, this did not affect the overall flow of the performance.   Congratulations to Stage Manager Shaun McManus and his Back Stage Crew of Brendan Mawdesley, Meg Rider and Hannah Borer and the Set Builders… Shaun, Brenden and Meg, plus Mike Taylor, Paul Carr, Alex Bond, Maureen Strand, Leigh Mower, Kellie Gillet, Alan Riley, Dilwyn and Caroline Rogers Jones, and Steven and David Catterall. Congrats also to the Technical Team under the guidance of Paul Carr which included Jasmin Davenport, Evan Ditchburn and Ben Holden.  It was also great to see many members of Chorley Youth Theatre getting involved with the Back Stage work, the Technical Side of things and helping Front of House something that I know CADOS encourage and can only be of benefit for the future of the Society. Well done guys, be proud, excellent job!

I have said on so many occasions, that when you see everyone on stage giving their all, which was the case here; then it really is difficult suggesting that someone was better than someone else… but I do feel it would be remiss of me not to ‘stick my neck out’ again and identify my five favourite performances and again, I’m sure if you asked anyone else there that night, they may well come up with a different list… but these are my personal favourites…

1. ‘Show Stealer’ for me was Robert Walsh and his portrayal of ‘Edmund BlackAdder’!  Robert was a perfect fit for this role!  Strong personality, never out of character, powerful presence on stage, just looked the part, superb costume, made this role look far easier that it undoubtedly was!  Be ever so proud Robert… great job, sir!
2. Steven Catterall portrayed BlackAdder’s somewhat dim-witted, slow manservant Baldrick with effortless ease!  Great casting!  Steve has wonderful stage presence and oozes comic timing!  Energy driven, great facial expressions and mannerisms all of which added to what was a great performance… be ever so proud, job well done!  
3. Ashley McLoughlin took on the role of Lord Percy… gullible, naïve, a very snobbish associate of BlackAdder and the inventor of ‘Green’!  Another that looked totally at ease with the role. Great stage presence, great comic timing, never out of character; worked really well with BlackAdder and Baldrick, PS: loved the ‘Ruff’… well done Ashley, be proud! 
4. Steph Threlfall was Queen Elizabeth I… affectionally known as ‘Queenie’.  Again, slotted into this role with ‘effortless ease’; another that ‘oozed’ stage presence, never out of character, worked ever so well with her two close companions Lord Melchett (Simon Lloyd) and Nurse (Jess Lucas) and also BlackAdder, just made this part her own... be proud Steph, great job.   
5. Two for the price of one:  Donna Keller - ‘Mrs Ploppy/Lady WhiteAdder’ and Phil Quinn - ‘Mr Ploppy’. Both played three roles, but ‘The Ploppy’s’ were ‘stand out’ characters for me although ‘Lady WhiteAdder’ came a close third!  At best ‘cameo roles’ but this was how to make an impact from a cameo role…impressive!  Stage presence aplenty, impeccable comic timing, great mannerisms, facial expressions… Mrs P’s cough/snort was hilarious, Mr Ploppy’s stance impressive… and their make up (congrats to Ellie Brookfield) was superb… well done guys’ great job, be proud!  

The Cast … ‘Lord Melchett’s pompous character was well caught by Simon LloydTess Lucas took on the role of ‘Nursie’, Queen Elizabeth’s Nurse; Jacob Lee Prince took on the dual roles of ‘The Bishop of Bath and Wells’ and ‘Kate’s Father’ with effortless ease; Fraser Bruce was very busy playing four roles… ‘Lord Farrow’, ‘Lord WhiteAdder’, ‘Begger’ and ‘Messenger’; Dom Nolan gave us the ‘biggest entrance of the night’ when he entered through a wall whilst portraying ‘Lord Flashheart’… Dom also played ‘Arthur’ and a ‘Drunk’; Ciaran McGhee took on the roles of ‘Dr. Leech’, ‘Mr Pants’, and a ‘Drunk’; Kirsteen Grime played ‘Lady Farrow’ and ‘Mollie’; Kath Townsend played the ‘Young Crone’ and our singing ‘Minstrel’. Last, but certainly not least, was Rebecca Moran who took on the role of ‘Kate/Bob’ and came ever so close to being in my ‘top five’. Great characterisation and stage presence… she also played the part of Mrs Pants.  Well done guys, you created some wonderful individual characters and worked so well as a team… be ever so proud, good job!

Props … were apt and used to great effect… thanks to Barry Ashworth, Rebecca Moran and Sue Taylor

Costumes… were fabulous and added so much to the production (BlackAdder’s costume was impressive) Congrats to Sandra Dickinson and to Charades Costume Hire.

Make Up – some impressive make up especially the ‘Ploppy’s’ mentioned previously… well done Ellie Brookfield  

Can I say thank you to everyone at CADOS for inviting me and your welcome, really did enjoy the production.  Special thanks to Ian Robinson and Paul Carr for their continued support and assistance, really is appreciated. 

Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

Jim Briscoe
District 6 Rep
NODA NW