Take Ten, Snakes and Ladders

Date 24th February 2024
Society Chesil Theatre (Winchester Dramatic Society)
Venue Chesil Theatre, Winchester
Type of Production Play
Director Multiple
Musical Director N/A
Written By Multiple


Author: Mark Allen

As always when you arrive at Chesil you are given the warmest of welcomes by the Front of House. This time was no exception and Tom and Vara along with Stephanie Danby, Chair of Chesil Theatre, undertaking the duties. Chesil Theatre is a converted eleventh century church just off the city centre of Winchester. It is a small seventy seater and is always packed. A testament to the high standard of shows that Chesil Theatre produce.

Take Ten is ten new plays, all ten minutes in length and written by ten individual playwrights. It is a simple and brilliant concept. This time the plays are based on a theme of Snakes and Ladders and is left to the individual's interpretation of such. All the plays are  judged by five Independent judges from various backgrounds within our world. The whole idea and approach was endorsed by both Sir Kenneth Branagh and Sir Ian McKellen.

The premise works that the ten plays are split into two acts of five, with little or no gap between each one. This leads to the down time between each being kept to an absolute minimum and the audience are saved from any long breaks. The changes were expertly carried out by David Small and his back stage team. The set was open with three flays stage left and stage right with a blank screen at the back, which was utilised well with screen projections as the background

The Plays

Firing Blanks by Kathryn West, directed by Peter Liddiard, was based on the idea of two people turning up for two blind dates and ending up together after they realise that neither of their dates were going to arrive. or were they.... 

Unlived Experience by Barry Hood directed by David Baldwin. The story line here was an old lady, as it turned out had died in her flat, experienced a number of visits by a burglar, the Police and the gas men (to turn off the gas), none of whom realised she was there until the final reveal.

Revisiting by Hayley Scott, directed by Jen Hale. This was a story about two sisters and trying to deal with their mother with dementia and the trials and tribulations that are associated with this. How one has given up almost her entire life to her mother's wellbeing and the other trying to make her sister take a break from it all.

Cake by Victoria Buse and directed by Marcus Whitfield. This play is about a young Downs Syndrome boy and the effect of his condition not being told to his father's new girlfriend and the relationship challenges that has caused between the father and the new lady. 

Moksha Patam by Mike Shephard and Directed by Martin Crawley. This play is regarding an old Indian trader returning to the UK and staying in his favourite guest house. One of the guests is introduced to "Jaggery" and it turns out that he is not the friendly individual we believed but one who had served many wrongdoings to the other guest's family. The housekeeper is also aware and kills "Jaggery" with cucumber sandwiches!

Alan has Left the Chat by Nicky Donovan and directed by Duncan Ley. This play is all about the way in which AI has entered our lives and how, in this example, takes over the whole of the company that the AI program was written for! Very up to date!

Powerplay by Lucy Aley-Parker and directed by Terry Lohr. This story was based on two younger individuals filming a movie and inviting extras to come and take part. One of the extras was the playwright herself (unknown to the two individuals) and the story explores the differences of opinions and approaches to it and how it becomes too much for all of them.

Time to Let Go, written by Sarah Nash and Directed by Sarah Hawkins. This is based in a Cancer Charity shop and centres around an old gentleman who is bringing things to the charity shop that are his wife's that he says she doesn't need any more. Is this secret or has she passed away...

New Master by Sarah Hawkins and directed by Daisy Norwood. Based in medieval times, it tells the story of how the peasant, whom the master relies on, slowly grows in stature and power to eventually overtake her master.

Portrait of Isabella by Kate Price and directed by Rachel O'Neill. This tells the story of the experienced art restorer and her graduate and explores the relationship paradigm of old and experienced against young and inexperienced all around the restoration of the painting Isabella.

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, it absolutely flew by and the extraordinary contrast between each brilliantly written and superbly acted play was an absolute joy. My heartfelt congratulations to all those involved from backstage to front stage. I would imagaine that the judges will have a very difficult choice to make. I certainly couldn't! To quote Sir Ian, "I thought that the whole enterprise was startlingly good, an example of what a company like Chesil can do better than a professional one." Having been coming to Chesil now for many a year I wholeheartedly agree. Bravo.