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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Watermill Theatre

Box office

01635 46044.

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE. A map is here. A seating plan is here.


Reviews of Teddy

11th January to 10th February 2018

Review from Newbury Theatre.

The 1950s saw the arrival of rock ’n’ roll, teenagers and Teddy boys (or Teds) and their female equivalent, Judies, hanging around in gangs on bomb sites and arguing with their parents.

At the start we see the eponymous Teddy and Josie at home, titivating, pumping up their swagger to hide their insecurities, preparing for a night out, trying to avoid their parents as they go. The two meet and try to hide their attraction to each other under a hard shell, but she falls for his smile and he falls for her toughness. Both are obsessed with Johnny Valentine and his rock ’n’ roll band and as the evening progresses they get the chance to go to a select gig starring their hero.

Teddy is not so much a musical as a two-person play and a band. George Parker and Molly Chesworth play the kids, but also all the other people they meet on their night out. They do this brilliantly, morphing between characters seamlessly. The script, by Tristan Bernays, expertly captures the vibes of the era, but it’s in verse. No iambic pentameters here, but a much freer metre which keeps you listening out for the rhymes.

And the band plays on, interposing music into the action with some really good songs by Dougal Irvine capturing the ’50s mood – Gal from Hollywood was one of the rousing numbers belted out by Dylan Wood as the charismatic Valentine and backed by Andrew Gallow on drums (Sammy ‘The Sticks’ Smith), Freya Parks as the feisty feminist Jenny O’Malley on bass guitar and Harrison White as Duster Watson on lead guitar. Top class playing and singing, with a bit of banter thrown in.

Max Dorey’s set, enhanced by Christopher Nairne’s lighting, is a good combination of bomb site (some of us are old enough to remember Spangles and Camp Coffee, shown in the posters on the back wall) and radio studio. Director Eleanor Rhode gets the best out of her talented cast.

If the television warning, “this programme contains strong language” sends you reaching for the Off button then Teddy is not for you, but I loved it. Parker and Chesworth were excellent, bringing out Teddy and Josie’s hopes, fears, bluster and insecurity and showing great pathos at the end.

Teddy was on in London in 2015 and goes on a national tour after the Watermill. This unusual show is not what I was expecting, but it exceeded my expectations. Highly recommended, do come and see it.


Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Shake, rattle and rail at The Watermill

Teddy, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until February 10

Remember? Remember piling on the hair lacquer, slicking down the fringe, boys wearing brothel creepers and 'Edwardian' drape coats and continually combing back their Brilliantined quiff – and most of all the music, ah… the music… remember that?

If so, Teddy, by Tristan Bernays, will take you back in time, but if it means nothing, this will be a musical revelation that leaves you wanting more.

Times weren't easy in a post-war world, coping with ruined buildings and lives, little money and shortages, but teenagers still wanted excitement and Teddy (George Parker) has Josie (Molly Chesworth) and they are going out for a "whole night!".

Feisty, aggressive Josie has been kicked out of her home, while less assertive Teddy is keen to appear up for anything. Music is everything to them – especially the band Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts.

It is Johnny Valentine (Dylan Wood), Jenny O'Malley (Freya Parks), Sammy 'The Sticks' Smith (Andrew Gallo) and Buster Watson (musical director Harrison White) who bring Dougal Irvine's music to brilliant, energetic, pulsating life with Wood belting out numbers such as Shake, Rattle 'n Rail and the desperate, thrilling Outlaw on the Run, in contrast to a gentle Blue Without You, when Teddy and Josie finally find each other.

This is an action-filled evening, which includes tragedy and a dance so fast it will take your breath away merely to watch. Teddy meets Josie, who is on a girls' night out, and suggests going to listen to Johnny Valentine. The problem is they don't have enough cash to get in, so they find a pawn shop where they threaten the owner with an ex-army gun Teddy has taken from home. When the owner sneers at the couple, things escalate, there is a shot and eventually the couple find themselves being interviewed by the police.

While the music and dramatic story dominate the evening, there are also Dylan Thomas-like descriptions not to be missed in Josie's and Teddy's dialogue – the ruined church is a 'battered ribcage' of a building hanging on the back streets of London, just one example of Bernays' ability to use words to conjure up pictures.

A new-look musical directed by Eleanor Rhode with outstanding performances from every actor, producing a vibrant, exciting evening.


Review from the British Theatre Guide.

Tristan Bernays’ sparkling witty script Teddy written in verse and rhyme explodes onto Newbury’s Watermill stage recreating the spirit of the 1950s in London following the aftermath of the Blitz and the severe austerity that resulted.

The Elephant and Castle is a bombed out landscape that is the ‘manor’ of our protagonists. Huge poster adverts for Camp Coffee, Birds Custard and Brillo provide the backdrop in Max Dorey’s multi-level set with an ominous council sign that warns us to ‘keep out’.

But this is a period when rock 'n' roll is emerging as the solace for the teenagers trying to escape their humdrum existence and hit the town on a Saturday night.

Especially since American heartthrob Johnny Valentine and his band the Broken Hearts are playing at a secret venue, and boy are they great. Dylan Wood is the quintessential sexy Valentine in his leather jacket and sings with panache and passion.

In the stellar band Andrew Gallow as Sammy ‘the sticks’ Smith is a powerful drummer and Freya Parks as Jenny O’Malley plays the bass with attitude. Musical director Harrison White on lead guitar ensures that Douglas Irvine’s original numbers literally “rock and roll”.

George Parker is the smouldering Teddy of the title all dressed up in his Edwardian clothes with his hair in a “quiff to send you a quiver” determined to have a night to remember.

He meets the feisty Josie, splendidly portrayed by Molly Chesworth, in a derelict church and together they go on a roller coaster adventure that they will never forget.

There is a magical, vibrant chemistry between the two. It’s tentative to begin with but grows into a love affair and they own the stage in superb performances.

They dream of escaping to California and achieving the American Dream of driving a Cadillac and touring the coast.

But their night out doesn’t quite work out as they need to find money to get into the gig. They decide to rob a pawnbroker, and then there is the situation with the hulk bully trying to chat up Josie and Teddy defending her. All superbly created by Chesworth and Parker.

With a dramatic conclusion, Eleanor Rhode's taut direction and Tom Jackson Greaves's energetic choreography brings a fun, spirited performance that is brimful of energy in an effervescent production that will rock your socks off.

Teddy goes on tour and will be in the Vaults in London from the 29 March.

Highly recommended.


Review from The Times (paywall).

We’ve heard this one before, but the darkly joyful way Teddy evokes the 1950s is still quite a blast

three stars
This rock’n’roll reverie’s first outing was such a success at the Southwark Playhouse in London in 2015 that it has set off on a nationwide tour. Seeing it for the first time here, I was carried away by the strut of Eleanor Rhode’s production and frustrated by how long it takes for the story to get going in Tristan Bernays’s poetical script. Rocked, but not rolled over.

The story is familiar, even if the way it’s told is not. It’s 1955, so ration books are out and rock’n’roll is starting to shake up the postwar doldrums. On a Saturday night in London a teenage Teddy boy called — yes — Teddy is going out on the town. At the same time a Teddy girl called Josie is doing the same thing.

They will meet and admire each other’s threads: a velvet jacket and white shirt for her, a frock coat and waistcoat for him; nice work by the costume designer Holly Rose Henshaw. They will banter and flirt and admit they’re both skint. How to get into the secret gig by the visiting American rocker Johnny Valentine? They will egg each other on into violence in a way that brings to mind a budget British Badlands, a strictly-for-beer-money Bonnie and Clyde.

The way Bernays makes his story unique is in getting our young lovers to relay it to us in verse. It’s all about the music, in the ace onstage band playing prime pastiche songs, composed by Dougal Irvine, and in the way this pair talk. Bernays has a good eye for their desperate desire to be somewhere else, alongside their understanding of how locked into their lives they are. “What’s wrong about dreaming?” says George Parker’s Teddy, all nervy verve. “Waking up,” says Molly Chesworth’s Josie, all screw-you elegance. Rhythm is the thing here.

So, although your heart doesn’t thump at what these young lovers get up to, your foot taps, you surrender happily to the way Dylan Wood, as the charismatic Johnny, sells the songs. He fronts the band led by the musical arranger Harrison White on a split-level stage that the designer Max Dorey has backed with period posters for Bisto and Bird’s custard. We’ve heard this one before, but the darkly joyful way Teddy evokes its era is still quite a blast.


There are reviews from WhatsOnStage ("a raucous, exhilarating night out with bite" - ★★★★), ("a toe-tapping re-invention of the spirit of the era, interwoven with zippy and witty dialogue" - ★★★★★), Musical Theatre Review ("the brilliance here though is Bernays’ inspired writing technique which allows his characters to switch into multiple roles using beautiful poetic and almost Shakespearean language to full descriptive effect" - ★★★★).

There's an interesting article...

... by Tei Williams about the process in staging a Watermill production, from choosing the play through to the opening night. It's here.

Reviews in the Archive

The Borrowers (November 2017)
Under Milk Wood (October 2017)
Loot (September 2017)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (September 2017 and on tour)
A Little Night Music (July 2017)
All at Sea! (July 2017)
The Miller's Child (July 2017)
Nesting (July 2017 and on tour)
House and Garden (May 2017)
Twelfth Night (April 2017)
Faust x2 (March 2017)
Murder For Two (January 2017)
Sleeping Beauty (November 2016)
Frankenstein (October 2016)
The Wipers Times (September 2016)
Crazy For You (July 2016)
Watership Down (June 2016)
Untold Stories (May 2016)
One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (April 2016 and on tour)
Romeo and Juliet (February 2016)
Tell Me on a Sunday (January 2016)
Alice in Wonderland (November 2015)
Gormenghast (November 2015) - see the Youth page
The Ladykillers (September 2015)
Oliver! (July 2015)
A Little History of the World (July 2015 and on tour)
Between the Lines (July 2015)
The Deep Blue Sea (June 2015)
Far From the Madding Crowd (April 2015)
Tuxedo Junction (March 2015)
The Secret Adversary (February 2015)
Peter Pan (November 2014)
But First This (October 2014)
Twelfth Night (November 2014) - see the Youth page
Journey's End (September 2014)
Calamity Jane (July 2014)
The Boxford Masques - Joe Soap's Masquerade (July 2014)
Hardboiled - the Fall of Sam Shadow (July 2014)
A Bunch of Amateurs (May 2014)
Sense and Sensibility (April 2014)
Life Lessons (March 2014)
All My Sons (February 2014)
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (January 2014)
Pinocchio (November 2013)
Sherlock's Last Case (September 2013)
Romeo+Juliet (September 2013 and on tour)
The Witches of Eastwick (July 2013)
Laurel & Hardy (June 2013)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (May 2013)
The Miser (April 2013)
David Copperfield (March 2013)
Sleuth (February 2013)
Arabian Nights (November 2012)
The Tempest (September 2012)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (August 2012)
Boxford Masques (July 2012)
Ben Hur (June 2012)
Of Mice and Men (May 2012)
Love on the Tracks (April 2012 and on tour)
Henry V and The Winter's Tale (April 2012)
Lettice and Lovage (February 2012)
The Wind in the Willows (November 2011)
Some Like It Hotter (November 2011 and on tour)
Great Expectations (September 2011)
Radio Times (August 2011)
The Marriage of Figaro (July 2011)
Moonlight and Magnolias (May 2011)
Richard III and The Comedy of Errors (April 2011)
The Clodly Light Opera and Drama Society (March 2011)
Relatively Speaking (February 2011)
Treasure Island (November 2010)
Single Spies (September 2010)
Copacabana (July 2010)
Daisy Pulls It Off (June 2010)
Brontë (April 2010)
Raising Voices (March 2010)
Confused Love (March 2010)
Heroes (February 2010)
James and the Giant Peach (November 2009)
Educating Rita (October 2009)
Spend Spend Spend! (July 2009 and September 2010)
Blithe Spirit (May 2009)
Bubbles (April to May and September to October 2009)
A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Merchant of Venice (March 2009)
Life X 3 (January 2009)
Matilda and Duffy's Stupendous Space Adventure (November 2008)
The Sirens' Call (November 2008)
Our Country's Good (September 2008)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of The Recruiting Officer (October 2008)
Sunset Boulevard (July 2008)
Boxford Masques - Knight and Day (July 2008)
Black Comedy and The Bowmans (May 2008)
London Assurance (April 2008)
Micky Salberg's Crystal Ballroom Dance Band (April 2008 and on tour)
Great West Road (March 2008)
Merrily We Roll Along (March 2008)
Honk! (November 2007)
Rope (September 2007)
Martin Guerre (July 2007)
Twelfth Night (June 2007)
The Story of a Great Lady (April and September 2007, and on tour)
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (April 2007)
For Services Rendered (March 2007)
Plunder (January 2007)
The Snow Queen (November 2006)
Peter Pan in Scarlet (October 2006)
The Taming of the Shrew (September 2006 and on tour in 2007)
Hot Mikado (July 2006 and September 2009)
Boxford Masques: The Crowning of the Year (July 2006)
Hobson's Choice (May 2006)
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (April 2006)
Tartuffe (February 2006)
The Jungle Book (November 2005)
The Gilded Lilies (October 2005)
Copenhagen (September 2005)
The Garden of Llangoed (September 2005 and September 2006)
Thieves' Carnival (July 2005)
The Shed (July 2005)
Mack and Mabel (May 2005)
The Odyssey (May 2005)
Broken Glass (April 2005)
The Winter's Tale (January 2005)
Arabian Nights (December 2004)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of Whose Life is it Anyway? (November 2004)
Multiplex (November 2004)
Neville's Island (September 2004)
The Comedian (September 2004 and March 2005)
Raising Voices Again (September 2004)
Pinafore Swing (July 2004)
The Venetian Twins (May 2004)
The Gentleman from Olmedo (April 2004)
Mr & Mrs Schultz (March 2004 and on tour)
Sweeney Todd (February 2004)
The Emperor and the Nightingale (November 2003)
See Newbury Dramatic Society for a review of An Ideal Husband (November 2003)
A Star Danced (September 2003)
The Fourth Fold (September 2003)
The Last Days of the Empire (July 2003)
Accelerate (July 2003)
Dreams from a Summer House (May 2003)
The Triumph of Love (April 2003)
Gigolo (March 2003)
Raising Voices (March 2003)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (February 2003)
The Firebird (November 2002)
Ten Cents a Dance (September 2002)
Dancing at Lughnasa (July 2002)
Love in a Maze (June 2002)
Fiddler on the Roof (April 2002)
I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls (March 2002 and March 2006)
Only a Matter of Time (February 2002)
Cinderella and the Enchanted Slipper (November 2001)
Piaf (October 2001)
The Merchant of Venice (October 2001)
Witch (September 2001)
The Clandestine Marriage (August 2001)
The Importance of Being Earnest (May 2001)
Gondoliers (March 2001)
Rose Rage (February 2001)
Carmen (July 2000)