Sophia’s Backstage! review of the Lyme Drama comedy double bill

Our roving blogger, Sophia, went to see the Lyme Drama double Bill on Friday night…here is her exclusive Backstage! review:

___

sophia blog 16 nov

“There are very few people your age know how to answer the door”

One of the many hilarious statements made during the performance of Say Something Happened; a tongue-in-cheek play written by Alan Bennett that has captured superbly the over-zealous attempts by social workers to ‘improve’ the lives of our elderly.

The characters of the cliché elderly couple were brilliantly portrayed as they each drifted off into their own world, but it is the reverse therapy that happens between ‘mum’ and June (the social worker) that makes it impossible not to laugh when mum says to June,

“From a broken home, living in a bedsitter in the inner city? You’re at risk!”

And for anyone who has been on the receiving end of this ‘care in the community’ policy, or at least witnessed it via an elderly parent or friend, knows exactly where Alan is coming from as interfering do-gooders try to rehabilitate their quarry. Alan’s brilliant observational satire encapsulates the best endeavours of social workers who turn the capable into the incapable!

So with humour primed, the opening scene to Black Comedy, a farce by Peter Shaffer revealing the rather complicated world of Brindsley Miller who has not only pinched some priceless antiques from his neighbour’s home, but is trying to sell one of his own creations whilst juggling the attentions of his fiancée and ex-girlfriend, I was laughing from the word go!

The blown fuse situation meant the entire performance was carried out in the dark; except it’s not, as the reversed lighting scheme in our theatre added to the slapstick hilarity of the show as everyone groped around and Colonel Melkett discovers his chair has been swapped for one with wheels!

“There’s something odd going on here”

The story is riotously fast moving with the teetotal Miss Furnival getting sloshed and the superb engineer who has come to repair the fuse box being mistaken for the millionaire art dealer, George Bamberger.

Both performances showed classic British comedy at its best, our sense of humour to laugh at ourselves in the face of incompetence or adversity.  Laughter really is the best medicine!

—-

Carry on theatre-ing! Well done Lyme Drama, and thanks Sophia. More next week…

Sophia goes Backstage! at the Wedding Fair…

sophiablog

The bells rang on Sunday 1 November for Marine Theatre Wedding Fair with everything the vintage inspired bride and groom could possibly want. We ate cake and listened to Fleur Gardner-Wray’s elegant harp, then boogied to Mr Jean!

Licenced for the ceremony is the Lyme Regis Alexandra Hotel up the top of the hillThey will soon be opening their 18th century chapel to make any wedding day even more special.

For anyone planning a vintage style wedding reception, all of the top local suppliers stood shoulder to shoulder. With flowers from Busy Bee in Honiton, a showcase table decorated by Beautifully Seated, then Mille Fleurs of Dalwood, Honiton supplying china and tableware, ice cream from the delicious Furzeleize Down Dairy in Axminster, dresses from Days of Grace in Budleigh Salterton, vintage sewing patterns from Sew-La-Di-Da, and natural skin-care and make-up without any nasties from Julia Masters, an Arbonne Independent Consultant.

Diane Jones of DJ Bouquets displayed an inspired collection of vintage jewelled bouquets and very tempting accessories.

sophiablog2

They say that if you want to get ahead, get a hat. Fiona Nayler had a table full of large summer floppy hats, Russian fur hats, and steam-punk friendly parasols; she is Unique Designs from Bridport, and creates both new and stylish sassy ‘upcycled’ millinery.

Plus with locally based, Paula Elsworth, ready to provide expert advice about slimming and a medically based individual plan with the Cambridge Weight Plan, and Cranberries Health Spa in Kilmington, we were thoroughly covered from pre-wedding hen ideas to the wedding day.

No wedding would be complete without the photographer, and Devon based Matthew Tomkinson will organise and design your personal digital album, whilst Catherine Carter of Dorset offers bespoke photography. We loved Matt Stockman‘s photo booth with vintage props for guests to get instant fun photos…

Of course don’t forget the Marine Theatre with its dramatic location and quirky interior is the ideal setting for your reception or for that matter, any celebration!

___

Thanks Sophia! and thanks to all of our Wedding Fair exhibitors, our beautiful volunteers and our many supporters who made the day run smoothly, and so enjoyable.

Becky’s first experience of treading the boards with the Dramatic Society!

Our new blogger, Becky, is one of the cast for the forthcoming show Black Comedy. This is Becky’s diary of what it has been like to join in the fun so far!

_____

Becky

Lyme Regis Dramatic Society have performed many successful productions at The Marine Theatre since forming in 1950, entertaining locals and tourists alike. As an employee at the Lyme Regis Tourist Information Centre I help run the Marine Theatre’s Box Office, and time after time I have watched their ticket sales fly out of the window and receive rave reviews. I have also had the pleasure of observing their shows; a particular favourite of mine being the very enjoyable and hugely popular ‘The Wizard of Cobb.’

So when I was asked if I fancied reading for a role in the group’s adaptation of Peter Schaffer’s 1960’s farce Black Comedy, I jumped at the opportunity.  I was thrilled and excited – if a little anxious! Acting on stage is something I’ve always admired and wanted to try, but other than a few drama lessons at school I have never acted before in my life!

I needn’t have worried as everyone has been extremely welcoming and supportive. When we first all read through the play together I was very nervous but I slowly relaxed with the encouragement of the rest of the group. Since August we have been meeting twice weekly and each rehearsal runs from 7.30pm for around two hours. The play is very funny and we spent several weeks unable to contain our laughter at certain lines during rehearsals!  As the weeks have passed we’ve gone from learning lines to running through the entire play off the book, a process which has been thoroughly rewarding.  If people are having trouble remembering lines or cues we repeat scenes until everyone’s comfortable with what they’re doing.

It’s exciting to rehearse on a stage where I’ve seen so many acts I love perform, and amazing seeing the society’s vision come to life when designing the set. I hadn’t realised quite how much energy goes into staging a play; getting the props just right, ensuring costumes are authentic yet comfortable, timing the sound, lighting and choreography off to a tee – so much thought goes into every moment.

I’ve found the hardest part of the experience has been learning how to project my voice and grasp my characters pronunciation and vocal tone.  I play a ‘frightful’ young debutante named Carol Melkett and her voice is quite different from my own. I have had so much vocal support from everybody which has really helped to grow my confidence. Another challenging aspect is that most of the play is supposed to be acted in the dark, when it is in fact light on stage. Pretending not to be able to see anything is actually extremely difficult and it’s taken a lot of practice trying not to look at people when you’re talking to them. This has led to some funny rehearsal sessions in the pitch dark in order to get an accurate grasp of the situation!

I would encourage anyone in the local area who is interested in acting, whether you’re experienced or a first timer like me, to join Lyme Regis Dramatic Society. The group is friendly, professional and very approachable.  You can tell that every member is there because they really enjoy themselves and it’s great to see each character grow more and more with every rehearsal. I know that when it comes to the opening night on November 11th I’ll be extremely nervous, but I am also excited to be performing with such a talented collection of people in my favourite little theatre by the sea.

___

Thanks Becky! Hopefully more thoughts about what it is like to be an actress on the historical Marine Theatre stage if she has a chance between rehearsals in this last few weeks. We are all really looking forward to the show – so ‘break a leg’ Becky and all cast and crew.

 

 

Sophia explores a new performance in development Backstage!

The Marine Theatre R&D programme helps artists, writers and directors explore new work in progress. The first show of the new R&D season is by creator and performer Helen Tennison with her talented multi-media company of Eva Auster (Video & Project Design) and Matt Eaton (Sound Design). Our blogger, Sophia, went Backstage! during Helen’s R&D to see what was happening…

___

helen tennison 1

Inspired by Shakespeare’s poem The Rape of Lucrece, Reading Lucrece is not a structured story and the company wants their promenade piece to appeal to everyone.

Reading Lucrece is about memories and echoes but not just personal ones, the work is also heavily linked to location, and the resonance of the theatre and Lyme Regis influence the physical performance. The Marine Theatre with its colourful history of ghosts from the past is the ideal location. Helen also said that it struck her that our theatre is ‘very British.’ She has toured all over the world.

After four days of development, Helen’s showing is open to the public, and the audience are asked to wait in the Stage Door Bar.

After the introduction, we are led downstairs to the auditorium. There is a small washing line with some hanging clothing and the friendly soundscape of low chatter in the background.

From there it’s into the Dressing Room for a moment of mindfulness and a chance to share thoughts and feelings. Then a surprise, as Helen leads us, her audience observers, to seats on stage in a reversal of what we are used to whilst she plays out a scene below on the auditorium floor.

“It felt like I was on the jury watching a witness statement” said a fellow spectator.

We follow Helen around as she blurs informal chat with scripted recitals combined by live video and music mixes, changing into different white floating costumes, and moving from one part of the theatre to another, including a very clever scene where she ‘sits’ on a projected image of a chair and even appears outside on the rocks heading out to sea as we watch from the theatre windows!

The overall effect is a provocative sensitive piece that digs into the emotions that Helen, Eva and Matt have researched in such a way that may help improve the awareness of the silence and witness of rape victims. It is a beautiful performance to participate in.

“We touch the hem of art” says Sound Designer Matt Eaton.

helen tennison 2

___

Thanks Sophia, so interesting to look behind the scenes at how much a piece is developed before audiences finally see it on stage. Helen said that after the R&D with us, she would be re-writing, and continuing development before the show is ready. We look forward to seeing her company back here at some point in the future when Reading Lucrece is on tour, and what a treat to see a multi-media show with stunning live projections, and music score interacting with the performance and audience reaction.

 

Backstage! behind the scenes of Dickens Abridged…

When ace Backstage! reporter, Sophia, met the crew and cast of Adam Long’s ‘Dickens Abridged, she was won over by the smooth operation of the touring show…and its talented cast!

Dickens backstage 1

___

The company’s tour van aka Titus Vandromicus is crammed with props, costumes, guitars and the cast who relax on their luxury recaro-style seating, where they can snooze or watch a film

The van is the home for the Dickens Abridged tour, and it’s the job of Production and Company Stage Manager, Martin Bristow, to make sure the cast, kit and caboodle of Newbury Productions (UK) Ltd reaches its destination in the van in plenty of time.

After their two hour journey to Lyme Regis, Martin offloads the cast members early afternoon, and they become a slick machine, setting up the stage including hanging the cloth, and props, and laying out the costumes – all 64 of them! – ready for quick changes throughout the show.

Then it’s time for technical details as the lighting gel is fitted and the lights and sound sequence is set up in the sound booth, and as I discovered, this is an exact science.

Meanwhile three of the five cast members, Andrew Gallo, Martin Sarreal and Jamie Ross, having enjoyed their fish & chips on the seafront, try to win a green parrot with ‘the claw’ in the amusement arcade.  They are happy to play their guitars and hang out backstage, and sing a few show songs as a special treat for the good people of Lyme Regis promenading along the beach just before the show start. Jamie is the ‘swing’ (understudy) during this tour, arguably the toughest role, as he has to know every character if one of them is unable to perform. All five cast warm up, and then Jamie takes a seat to watch as he is on the bench again tonight.

Meanwhile Canadian born Matthew Hendrickson practices a few vocal exercises and tells me how important it is to connect with the audience; there is no ‘4th wall’ in this show!’ And with the energetic guitars, smiles, singing and dancing as they condense the life and times of Charles Dickens into 90 minutes, I don’t think the audience can do anything other than connect.

After a 9 year run in the West End, its interesting to get an insight into the Dickens Abridged touring show, so thanks to the cast and crew, and Sophia for this insight into life Backstage!

More from Sophia next week…

Dickens backstage 2

Backstage! interview with Mark Thomas

Our roving Backstage! blogger, Sophia, meet Mark Thomas in the red dressing room before his show on Friday 9th October.

Mark Thomas is a ‘domestic extremist’ or at least that’s how the police have categorised him, and his show Trespass is indicative of just what he gets up to under the scrutiny of the authorities’ eye. But offstage?

He needs coffee.

___

Mark Thomas

“I still remember my dad’s reaction when I told him about my college course; I was the first in the family to go to college although they were probably disappointed I wasn’t training to be a lawyer!”

“These Dance & Movement classes, do they wear tights?” he asked.

The oldest of four, Mark has two sisters and a brother, and is married to Jennifer Landreth. He has a son, Charlie who is 20 and studying anthropology and a 15 year old daughter who has bright blue hair!

But had he always wanted to be a comedian given that his father was a builder,

“I tried really hard to fit in, I was sent to the Christ Hospital boarding school in Sussex, but from the age of 16 I knew I wanted to be a performer then a mate of mine got into drama school and I thought if he can do it so can I.
We formed a band called ‘Catch’ followed by a number so whenever someone dropped out the number went up. We reached ‘Catch 3’ then split up.”

His touring schedule is back-to-back all year, so what does he do to relax?
“Listen to loud music and walking my cockapoo Ralph and reading; I’m reading Terry Pratchett’s Mort at the moment.”

Favourite food?

“Coffee. I can survive without food but not coffee; I have a calor gas stove but I’ve been banned from using it because of the fire risk.”

And if you were not a performer, what would you be?

“An assassin, one of the old fashioned sort.”

I wondered if the police have also marked this against him on another list…

________________________SM

Thanks Sophia! More Backstage! news next week.

Sophia’s Adventures in Taste!

Maddy's Madhatter's Tea Party

Cscape Trailer: Taste

No Trolley Dollies at Cscape…

 

This weekend the Marine Theatre hosts a Cornish dance company with their new show Taste. It is so new that we didn’t know much about it until our roving theatre blogger, Sophia Moseley, tracked down one of the Cscape company who was trundling around with a tea trolly on the Lyme Regis Promenade last weekend.

It turns out that Maddy, who studied at Circomedia in Bristol, is no stranger to our town,

“My sister and I came here as children, she would always go in the sea and always have an ice cream, no matter what, so she always had a cold runny nose. We used to go to Charmouth looking for fossils. So there are plenty of happy memories here.”

….this from Sophia out in the field!

_____

“Are you Earl Grey or Lady Grey and if you were a sweet, would you be a Cadbury’s eclair or Werther’s Original or perhaps a Ferrero Rocher? You are what you are by the things that you eat…”

But Maddy wasn’t talking about a sensible diet; she was promoting the Cscape TASTE show that is all about social class and how each of us categorise ourselves. Her audience were certainly intrigued and curious but not wholly enthusiastic. One grandfather snubbed our courageous artiste by looking the other way, refusing a biscuit and telling his grand-daughters not to take a sweet from the bowl!

A parental warning rang in my ears…never accept sweets from strangers.

Of course even in our multi-cultural society, there is still that oh so British reserve of look the other way, avoid eye contact and pretend you can’t see them when faced with anyone or anything unknown.

“It’s a bit soul destroying” she said as we continued in our search of a receptive audience. But then we met Jenny Short, a local with a cheery disposition sitting by her beach hut and who was in no doubt what sweet she would be, “Oh definitely the Ferrero Rocher, I like the way they’re crunchy, and their squashiness and definitely their nuttiness, oh yes!”

And as we made our way past the Cobb Gate Fish Bar and the Rock Point Inn, handing out large cardboard coasters with a ticket offer, I couldn’t help but wonder about the nuttiness of Maddy, with her knitted tea cosy hat, tweed blazer and neck scarf pushing her trolley noisily along the cobbled road to continue entertaining Lyme’s reluctant audience.

___

Thanks Sophia! It’s amazing how hard artists have to work hard on and off stage to get audiences in, and keep all of our taste buds satisfied…

More backstage blog news next week.