Strain of Thrones

Date 3rd August 2019
Society Barton Players
Venue Barton-le-Clay Viilage Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Keith Badham
Choreographer Milly Badham and Olivia Blackley


Author: Richard Fitt

We have just had as bit of treat on a warm sunny August afternoon in the form of a visit to see Barton Players Summer School’s in action. A tradition that is now in its sixteenth year, some 40 plus youngers varying in age from 6 to 17 spend the last week in fulltime rehearsal in order to put on a play at the end. This is a continual annual process and everybody signed up for the school has a part to play whether it be on or off the stage, many returning year upon year. The best example being the current chair of the Players herself started her acting career 14 years ago in this very summer school.

This year’s offering was called ‘Strain of Thrones,’ a spoof, home written and directed by that stalwart of the Players, Keith Badham, which as the title suggests pays homage to a certain well renowned and highly successful HBO TV series. An interesting choice I thought, as I would assume that the vast majority of the actors taking part would be far too young to have been allowed to see any of the original series whatsoever.

All the scenery and props are made from scratch during the week, which resulted in a stage adorned with series of wonderfully painted flats and banners depicting the various  houses of the seven kingdoms and a particularly stylish painted dragon on the back wall. All created by the behind the scenes Art Room of Hayley Bloodworth, Jade Franks, Georgina Burgess, Rebecca-Louise Smith and Elizabeth Hazel and put together by the stage crew of Milly Badham, Rose and Lucy Curtis. Super job girls!

Lighting and sound by Ashli Blunt, Keith Bowie and Adam Bowie was of course done to professional standards as one has come to expect from the Players and good to see the youngsters manning the desks.

Hats off to Derryanne Blunt and Clare Coffey who had the mammoth task of providing the costumes for this small army of actors. And what a splendid array they came up with to differentiate the various factions. Somewhat varied in complexity with everything from cardboard Crowns for the royalty, which comedically slipped from time to time, to elaborate dresses for the principal ladies to the dragon outfits which raised a good chuckle in their passing resemblance to a pair of emus. A lot of fun was obviously had by one and all putting it altogether.

The same applause must be extended to Milly Badham and Olivia Blackley who put together some great choreography, no easy task for a cast of forty plus that varied in age and ability. The stage positively rocked at times, we the audience tapped and clapped our way through many a number with enthusiasm.

The cast all had cleverly thought out similar names to their illustrious counterparts and as a fan of the latter this was something I was looking forward to with keen anticipation.

The reality is that audiences will always be generous with laughter applause and appreciation when there are children involved – especially so when it is their children that are involved.  But no such generosity was needed here – it was fabulous from start to finish with some corking moments in between.

We opened to the strains of the main theme music and were greeted by Narrator Caitlin Butler setting the scene between the two warring factions, Ice and Fire.

The three female leads and soloists, Beth Westwick as Delores Barbarian, Olivia Horwood as Hairier Spark and Faith McNevin as Mercy Cannister proved themselves not only to be good at acting but with seriously powerful voices able to carry a tune with great confidence. Very Impressive stuff and I have no doubt all three with soon be taking lead parts in adult musical theatre.  Also Beth in particular bore an uncanny resemblance to the Mother of Dragons she was parodying.

The leading guys were no slouches either, with Harrison Hunt as Tom Snur, Joel Platt as Miriam Cannister, everybody’s favourite Dwarf who also proved himself a very competent and confident singer , Benn Sykes as a very enthusiastic Night King, with a superb choregraphed number to get us all going and Jamie Westwick as Spam Spark who sat in a wheelchair delivering complete nonsense philosophy with great aplomb to huge laughter.  

Other notable cameos came from  Daisy Cassells as Panzer Spark, Christian Farr as Fayworm, Ashley Riley as Jeffery Cannister, Serena King as The Red Witch, Chloe Burnett as Jimmy Cannister and Matthew Thompsett as The Red Priest.

There were some wonderful comedic moments in this show, with such things as a battle cry portrayed with a very crumpled cardboard sword, but the best of all and certainly one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on stage was when Odour (played by Leo Williamson), who only has the one word to interject periodically throughout the show stepped forward and asked for a prompt.  The audience needless to say were in stitches, such was his comedic timing.  His timing was all the more perfect as a small boy in the audience had heckled just a few minutes earlier with “Why does he keep saying that!” I was told afterwards a deliberate trick is traditionally played on the director by the cast annually. They certainly got him this year!  Pure gold!

So congratulations to all the above plus Lauren Platt (Brian of Bath), Isabella Crownshaw (Leon Fayboy), William Thompson-Hoare (Romsey Barton), Tash Duncan (Carl Pogo), Lily Farr (Peter Failish), Edward Thompson-Hoare (Gladys), Elana Trapp (Fayworm), Neve Butler (Sam Well), Nicole Boniface (Eggrit), Sophie Trapp (Kavos), Isobella Simmons (The Night Queen), Tia Mae Bowers (Night Nurse), Lily Sharp (Mumma Spark), Kera Rose (Papa Spark), Tallulah Smith (Chef), Ava Simmons (Kaka), Mya Lupton ( Moomeister), Sarah Bowles (Bobb Spark), Savannah Maltby and Megan Rice as Raymond and Vincent Draggon and all the Night Babies - Mya McNevin, neve Lawrence, Kiera O’Sullivan, Sophie Patterson, Holly Miller and Ava Baldwin.

Brilliant afternoons entertainment and what I saw more than anything else was a bunch of youngsters clearly having the time of their lives. Youth theatre summer school is alive and well and living in Barton-le-Clay. Long may it continue. Many thanks as usual for the warm welcome, great hospitality and the excellent Fish’n Chip lunch!