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Recent productions

Our annual programme of activities includes one-act plays, three-act plays, revues and pantomimes.

 

Robin Hood & the Babes in the Wood

November/December 2023

All the familiar characters were present – Robin Hood and his band of outlaws, along with Maid Marion and the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. However, the Sheriff is guardian to his niece and nephew, who have inherited a fortune which he wants, so they must be got rid of. It is up to the men in green to thwart his evil plan.

There is an unusual twist – the younger AP members played all the principal roles while the supporting characters were drawn from our adult section.

'Youngsters prove they are not babes!" – so wrote our reviewer, going on to make the point that nine of the fifeteen actors who took to the stage were aged between just ten and thirteen. He noted that the young people,"…dominated the stage from start to finish".

There was much thigh slapping and a remarkable fight, during which the quaterstaves got progressively smaller. It would be wrong to say that Amanda Duffin added a new dimension to the role of dame, just suffice it to say that, after each performance, there was a gentleman in the audience for whom the words "audience participation" had a new and rather personal meaning.

Director Vicky White, aided by Musical Director Debbie Cambray-Smith, took on the chaIlenge. and succeeded. It was something a little different but it really worked and worked well.

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The God of Carnage

August 2023

A comedy of manners - without the manners! Director Linda Porter, “I like the way the play reveals the characters and eventually exposes their fragilities which are revealed in a variety of ways in what is a multi-layered production.”

It I Were Not Upon The Stage…

August 2023

Directed by Debbie Cambray-Smith this was a fun, fast paced production. Songs, sketches, dances and monologues all blended well together to the obvious approval of the audiences.

A reviwer wrote:

"When presented by an ensemble production such as this, it is perhaps invidious to single out individual performances but, having said that, I’m going to break my rule. The young members of the group are always involved and this time, ably marshalled by Margaret Williams and Amy Cambray, they were really able to show off their talent. It was good to see them have the opportunity to demonstrate their acting skills, along with the dances choreographed by Amy, but more of that later. As for the adults, the Dead Parrot sketch performed by Amanda Duffin and Bob Charman, was worthy of the original Monty Python performance. Hay Blake, as Eliza, was the perfect foil for Robert Naylor-Stubbs enthusiastic Higgins, in the snippet from “My Fair Lady”. Simon Blake clearly enjoyed himself performing “In the Navy” – or was it the opportunity to wear a Tom Cruise style white uniform!

For me, there were two stand out moments. The concept, interpretation and performance of “The Anvil Chorus”, under UV lighting, was outstanding. Individual cogs and pieces of machinery came together to form a ’working’ clock. The director, Amy, Ewan (lighting) and the young people should all feel justifiably proud. 

The other special moment occurred right at the beginning. Over the years David Shelley has become well known for the quality of his backdrops, particularly for pantomimes, but his interpretation of LS Lowry’s ‘Going to Work’ was nothing short of magnificent.

At a time when there are those who seek to demean and belittle, it is good to see the Athelstan Players putting a smile on the face of Malmesbury."

There were certainly smiles on the faces of the cast, who had great fun taking part. We even had a mini-orchestra! Thank you Michelle and Sophie.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

January 2023

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 Our reviwer wrote:

 

"Good Old Fashioned Panto Fun!

 

I sometimes wonder how panto could have been created in these days of political correctness it just couldn’t happen now, a product of a bygone age, but praise be that it has survived and continues to thrive!

 

The Athelstan Players annual seasonal treat usually sees it taking place as a curtain raiser to the festive period, but this winter it lit up January’s winter blues…"

Christine Mace was determined to give our audiences performances that encouraged full participation and boy, did they oblige! Never have the boos and shouts of "Look behind you" sounded louder. A good time was had by all – including the cast.

Peace & Love – Carnival Revue
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August 2022

It was two years in the making! Well, perhaps not quite. It was originally due to be performed in 2020 but Covid restrictions meant we held it back until normal service could be resumed. Kate Almond put together a packed programme of songs and sketches which gave the cast little time to change between acts but smooth segues made this easier, with the audience scarcely noticing the changes.

 

Music from the 60s all the way through to today encouraged audience participation, especially for the Beatles medley that closed the show. The young Athelstan Players played a full part in the production through song, dance and acting

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Two One Act plays

April 2022

Athelstan Players are regular participants in One Act Play Festivals and our 2022 entry (Avon Short Play Festival – February 2022) was “The Proposal” by Anton Chekhov, directed by Linda Porter. We didn’t win but received nominations for best actress (Amanda Duffin) and actor (Bob Charman) and the prize for best costume. In order for a wider audience to enjoy the production, Christine Mace directed “Playgoers”, another one act and the two plays together formed a fascinating evening’s entertainment.

 

Prodigious facial hair was much in evidence in the “The Proposal”, as two families attempted to unite their estates by marriage, but it all fell apart with an acrimonious disagreement over who had the best hunting dog!

 

“Playgoers” also ended with a major falling out, as the lady of the house’s attempt to introduce her staff to ‘proper’ theatre was foiled by the redoubtable cook.

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The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See…

November 2021

Directed by Amanda Duffin, this was perhaps not a traditional pantomime in the accepted sense, but ‘The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See…’ had all the traditional elements … a hero (albeit a little nervous at times), a heroine (offering comforting support when needed), a disparate group of characters providing comedic relief and a villain. A happy ending ensued and the villain got his comeuppance.

Curses, Foiled Again

July 2021

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Malmesbury Carnival was anxious to get back to as ‘normal’ as possible as Covid restrictions were being lifted and so were Athelstan Players. Traditionally, our carnival revue was one of the first things on the Carnival programme and we were determined to be able to take part.

 

Christine Mace came up with a one act play which had a small cast, thereby getting around restrictions on the number of people in one place and so making rehearsals possible. Occasionally, rehearsals took place outside. It was also important that our audience felt ‘safe’, so we decided on al fresco performances – outdoors in the Cloister Garden.

 

“Curses…” is a play within a play as an amateur drama group attempt to rehearse despite the underlying tensions between the leading lady (who cannot learn her lines), the director (a failed roué) and his long-suffering wife. All ends well – at least while they are all ‘on stage’.

 

The audience came and the rain did not – just!

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Captain Hook’s Revenge

November 2019

Directed by Debbie Charman and Jackie Peel, this was a light-hearted take on JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. Two of the leading characters took to their roles as Wendy and Peter Pan to the manor born, aided no doubt by the fact that they are both primary school teachers. Captain Hook’s evil plan to poison all the good guys was thwarted by the rats, who overheard him briefing his crew and alerted Peter Pan and the native north Americans. The crocodile got fed and everyone else lived happily ever after.

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Aladdin

February 2019

As there were no parts for juniors in The Flint Street Nativity, it was decided they should have their own panto. Christine Mace directed it and the young people performed like seasoned actors. There were a great many proud mums and dads in the audience.

The Flint Street Nativity

Nov 29th and 30th, Dec 1st 2018

This warm, witty, funny play is an ideal alternative to the usual Christmas fare. Mizzis Horrocks’ class is about to perform their nativity play at Flint Street Junior School for the proud mums and dads – and the occasional social worker. Squabbles and ego’s arise and liven up the traditional script

Dig for the Diggers

March 2018

The Athelstan Players entered the Hj1Act Play Festival in Pewsey on Friday 23rd March with their one act play Dig for the Diggers by Lynn Brittney. It is a WW1 play about the the first Australians that were DNA tested from the battle of Fromelles on the 19th and 29th July 1916.  The characters in the play are fictitious but the historical facts are all true.

Don't Dress for Dinner

April 2018

Bernard (Andy Duncan) is planning a romantic weekend with his chic Parisian mistress (Amanda Duffin), in his charming converted French farmhouse, whilst his wife Jacqueline (Natasha Gray), is away. He has arranged for a Cordon Bleu cook (Tracy Bridgeman) to prepare gourmet delights, and has invited his best friend, Robert (James White), along too to provide the alibi. It’s foolproof; what could possibly go wrong? An unexpected husband (Fozz Ellis) perhaps? When Jacqueline changes her plans, Bernard has to think on his feet… a superb comedy of confusion ensues with mistaken identities, cover ups, dresses off and truly appalling cooking It’s a real “who’s who” of who’s-whose-lover, full of twists and turns. Naughty and sublimely silly the clever cast pile on the comic chaos.

“Who Killed the Director?”

1st, 2nd and 8th April 2016

An evening of mystery and intrigue with a play in 3 short acts giving you a chance to solve the murder.

 

You and your team will witness the unfolding drama set in the fictional Footlight’s Theatre, in the quiet village of Finkleton Fold. The ‘Powder Keg Players’, led by their dynamic director Ralph Valentine, are rehearsing their own murder play called ‘A Stab in the Dark’. Rehearsals are not going well and the company are under pressure. Tensions are running high. There is a death in the actors’ production, yet rehearsals come to an abrupt halt when Ralph is stabbed for real onstage. But who switched knives? Who holds a grudge bitter enough to engineer his murder?

The Honeymoon Suite.

April 2015

Act 1: Something Old, Something New. Jet, an ageing rocker, finally accepts his hell-raising days are over  when he learns some home truths, and his sham marriage to his long suffering PA, Pat, becomes something more.

 

Act 2: Something Borrowed. Gaynor, a northern lass, takes control of the situation when her new husband Sam, a cockney lad, loses all his money and his business on a horse.

 

Act 3: Something Blue. Enrico gets more than he bargained for, as Paula seeks revenge during a dirty weekend. 

 

Frances, the genial, Irish hotel porter passes through all three plays with her homespun philosophy.

 

Act 1 won Best Play at the 2015 Harold Jolliffe 1 Act Play festival (Best Director for Jackie Morris and Best Actress for Natasha Gray), then won the All England Play festival Quarter Final at Wootton Bassett (Best Director for Jackie Morris, Best Actor for Bob Charman) and the Semi-Final at Ferndown, Dorset. This play was one of the 4 finalists in the English Finals in Harrogate on 6th June.

Isolation at Eyam

10th-12th April 2014

The play is about the plague that came to Eyam in Derbyshire in 1665 - to contain it the villagers cut themselves off from the outside world until the plague was over.

 

Athelstan Players won the Betty Peck Rosebowl at Swindon Harold Jolliffe One Act Play festival for the Winning Play in April 2014.  Amanda Duffin won a cup for best adult performance by an actress and the group won the BBC Wiltshire Audience award.

 

 Sue Poole, Jackie Peel and Val Chapman made all the authentic costumes and this was highly praised by the adjudicator.

Mystery at Greenfingers

May 4th, 10th - 11th May 2013

This 'comedy of detection', as Priestley called it, is set in the 1938 in the Greenfingers Palace Hotel on the edge of the Peak District. A small advance party of staff arrive a fortnight early to prepare the hotel for the opening season and find themselves snowbound as the weather takes a turn for the worse, roads become impassable and telephone lines go down. This, however, does not prevent surprise visitors arriving at the hotel, the first of whom is Mr. Crowther, the hotel company’s detective.

 

Unusual events leave Detective Crowther with a cartload of mysteries to solve. Never one to shy away from the task, he immediately sets to work, interrogating and accusing staff members one by one, ingeniously discovering clues, and coming to audaciously clever conclusions – or, at least, so he thinks.

Daisy Pulls it Off

2nd April, 8th and 9th April 2011

Daisy Pulls it Off by Denise Deegan is a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of the girls' private school. It is about the attempts of superachiever Daisy Meridith to hide her poor elementary school background, and be accepted into the snobby confines of Grangewood School for Young Ladies.

 

The plucky girl undergoes many tribulations, but comes right in the end with Daisy saving the lives of snobby Sybil and toady Monica, discovering hidden family treasure, scoring the winning goal at hockey and finding her long-lost father!

Bus Stop

6th, 7th, 13th and 14th June 2008

Idle chat, romantic delusions and licentious gossip give us a comical insight into six ladies of various dispositions waiting for that elusive Number 165 bus, in this one-act modern play.

Elsie and Norm's Macbeth

6th, 7th, 13th and 14th June 2008

Elsie and Norm have decided to have a bit of a bash at culture by staging a production of Macbeth in their living-room. After a spot of judicious re-writing by Norm to make it snappier and more punchy, and undaunted by the large cast, Elsie and Norm set out to act "one of the greatest pieces of literature what has ever been wrote in the English language", playing all the characters between them. The hilarious results set Shakespeare spinning in his grave!

The Birds Stopped Singing

Fri 19th, Sat 20th May 2006

See a review that was published in Swindon Advertiser.

 

It is 1930 and in a roadside inn outside Berlin Pavel Alexandrovich sits reading - keeping very much to himself. A salesman, Liszt, arrives in search of lodgings. He engages Pavel in conversation about the war period. Reluctant at first, Pavel eventually recounts how he assisted in the execution of Tsar Nicholas.

 

It has haunted him ever since. His story leads to the perennial mystery of Anastasia’s fate. Surprisingly, Pavel suspects that a prostitute at the inn could be the Russian princess. The denouement is even more surprising - but by then Pavel is too sunk in alcoholic oblivion to realize it.

 

Winner of the One Act Play Festival, Swindon 2006 including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Technical Achievement.

The Playgoers

Friday 19th, Saturday 20th May 2006

A naïve young couple’s offer to treat their servants to a trip to the theatre causes chaos in this light-hearted one act comedy

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