01635 46044. www.watermill.org.uk
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 21st
May to 1st June as part of a Watermill Theatre Rural Tour
3rd June 19:30 Basildon Village Hall. Box Office: 0118 984 3441
5th June 19:30 ACE Space, Newbury. Box Office: 07905 590214
6th June 19:30 Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot. Box Office: 01235 515144
10th June 19:30 Padworth Village Hall. Box Office: 0118 970 1027
15th June 19:30 Spencers Wood Village Hall. Box Office: 0118 988 3483
17th June 19:30 Hampstead Norreys Village Hall. Box Office: 01635 201470
18th June 19:30 William Penney Theatre, Aldermaston Recreational Society. Box Office: 0118 982 7614
By Robert Louis Stevenson. The acclaimed young all-male company Rhum and Clay, bring its highly physical performance and comic sense of the absurd to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Together with The Watermill Outreach Director, Beth Flintoff, the company will bring to life a host of dark characters inhabiting the inhospitable bleak alleys of Victorian London.
Rubies and Rock Pools, 5th to 8th June, 19:30 but 18:30 on Saturday
The West Berkshire Federation of Village Schools collaborates with The Watermill again in this remarkable project. Featuring over a hundred children from six village primary schools, this is the performance of a new play, specially written for the children. In times of austerity everyone tries to count the pennies, especially the government. This year, in a bid to escape recession, the Prime Minister launches a bold new initiative, Camp Revamp. The giant recycling centre is designed to house the nation’s children; teaching them to be eco friendly, conscientious members of society. Or so it seems! Camp Revamp is really a consumer training school that teaches the children to buy, buy, buy! Run by The Regenerators, a group of leading businessmen and women, the children are barraged with adverts - moulding them into eager, frivolous spenders. However, some rebels in the group quickly realise The Regenerators ulterior motives and, led by twins, Ftse and 100, the children begin a quest to re-discover what makes life fun. Surely there's more to life than spending money?
Laurel and Hardy, 13th June to 20th July
Tom McGrath’s poignant play Laurel and Hardy features the Hollywood Golden Age double-act revisiting their lives, loves and careers in Vaudeville, Silent Movies, and the Talkies. The show features flashbacks to their world-famous comedy sketches, slapstick, music and dance routines, as well as touching glimpses behind the scenes. The charm and wit of Laurel and Hardy are reborn in this affectionate homage to the men who are one of the most enduring comedy duos of Hollywood.
The Witches of Eastwick, 25th July to 14th September
It’s a dark and stormy night in small-town America. Three divorcees, frustrated by the constant scrutiny and disapproval of their buttoned-up neighbours, fantasise about their ideal man. Coincidentally, or maybe not, the brash, vulgar and, on the face of it, distinctly unappealing Darryl Van Horne arrives in the neighbourhood. It doesn’t take long before he uses his charms to release their creative energy along with their inhibitions! But hell hath no fury like three women scorned and pretty soon Alex, Sukie and Jane use their newly discovered powers to teach their depraved seducer a lesson.
Adventures in Wonderland, 12th to 18th August, Daytimes
A sensory spectacle which will be performed in the gardens and around The Watermill. Sing with the Mock Turtle, take tea with the Mad Hatter, and play croquet with the Queen of Hearts - but be sure to come last or you could lose your head! Follow the strange characters and backwards riddles to discover scenes, installations and games relating to Alice’s adventure. This theatrical experience puts you in the midst of the action, enabling you to hear, see, smell and experience the lives of the characters as a story unfolds around you. A family show for those with active imaginations and a sense of adventure!Suitable for age 6 upwards.
Romeo + Juliet, 17th to 21st September
By William Shakespeare. As adulthood looms and the pressures of academia mount, two students find themselves entangled in an emotionally charged and inevitably tragic relationship. Designed to tour to schools, a cast of two actors, in a contemporary setting, cut to the very core of the play: the relationship between Romeo and Juliet and the world around them. Romeo + Juliet is touring to schools within one hour of The Watermill.
Sherlock's Last Case, 26th September to 2nd November
A death threat delivered to 221B Baker Street scarcely ruffles the feathers of the legendary Sherlock Holmes - the bearer of the message is the daughter of his arch enemy, the late Professor Moriarty. A second threat, and the discovery of his faithful side-kick, Dr Watson, tied up in a closet, does little to shake the great detective’s nonchalance in the face of impending death. However, now, he’s intrigued. Employing his powers of deduction and the assurance that he’s always right, Holmes and Watson embark on a bizarre and fascinating case that eventually brings Holmes face-toface with his avenger. Is this the end of the most famous detective in the world? The answer, my dear Watson,is elementary. True to the spirit of Conan-Doyle’s original Sherlock novels, this black comedy has all the suspense and intrigue of a great detective story whilst poking gentle fun at the super sleuth’s eccentric personality.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII, 5th to 7th November
A death threat delivered to 221B Baker Street scarcely ruffles the feathers of the legendary Sherlock Holmes - the bearer of the message is the daughter of his arch enemy, the late Professor Moriarty. A second threat, and the discovery of his faithful side-kick, Dr Howard Coggins looks like Henry VIII. Stu McLoughlin doesn’t really look like any of the wives, but he’s going to give it a go. After their previous self-funded two-man historical drama is savaged in the press, Howard and Stu are at their wits’ end. Then they hit upon an idea for a show that could change everything... But can two of the South West’s favourite theatrical sons put aside their differences and make it through to the end? The Six Wives of Henry VIII was an undisputed hit at the Bristol Old Vic, and with live original music this promises to be an ill-researched lesson in cross-dressing Tudor history that you’ll never forget.
Turn Back the Clock, 8th to 9th November, 19:30
Originally in honour of Joyce Grenfell’s centenary year, Turn Back the Clock has been playing to sell-out houses for the last 18 months. Hidden in this comedy revue can be found some of her more delicate and poignant pieces. This gem of nostalgia from the golden age of revue is suitable for all. Delight in the truthful, funny and moving characters. Revel in the evocation of one of the greatest female entertainers of the twentieth century.
Reviews of The Miser
11th April to 18th May 2013
Review from Newbury Theatre.
Harpagon, the eponymous miser in Molière’s comedy, loves his money a lot more than he loves his son Cleante or his daughter Elise. Both father and son want to marry Marianne; Elise wants to marry Valere, who is well connected but working as a steward in Harpagon’s household, but daddy wants her to marry Anselme, who is old but rich. After many machinations regarding Harpagon’s money, the play ends with a hilariously ridiculous denouement that Shakespeare would have approved of.
Director Nancy Meckler chose her cast from recently graduated actors, which helps to give the production liveliness and energy, but made it difficult to picture Alex Mann (Harpagon) as someone in his sixties. Eliza Collings was excellent as the feisty Frosine, the matchmaker trying to fix Harpagon up with Marianne, played by Charlie Russell, understandably bemused by the goings-on around her.
Daniel Wilde gave a strong performance in his dual role as Valere and Le Fleche (with a slightly dodgy Scottish accent). Ben Ashton was the bad son Cleante, with an imposing if slightly camp presence. Edmund Digby-Jones had the two very different roles of Maitre Jacques, the cook and coachman, and Anselme, the deus ex machina who, as everyone’s favourite relative, resolves the happy ending. Helen Sorren completed the cast as Elise.
There are lots of asides, directed at specific audience members rather than generally. It was a fairly restrained audience on press night, but I can imagine some audiences responding with a bit of heckling, which I hope the cast would take in their stride.
At a few places in the play, and before it starts, there were interludes with Maitre Jacques and two of his female housemaids doing a mime show, dressed as clowns. This was a charming touch, harking back to Molière’s Commedia dell’arte influences.
Martin Sherman’s modern script worked well – modern translations of pre-20th century comedy can be a bit problematic if they are not to expose the clunkiness of the plot, but no problems here.
All in all, an enjoyable, fast paced and action packed comedy.
Review from the British Theatre Guide and the Newbury Weekly News.
Director Nancy Meckler brings a fresh and vibrant interpretation to Martin Sherman’s new adaption of Molière’s The Miser and it’s a fast-paced and very funny production that had the audience laughing out loud from start to finish.
The Watermill is dedicated to supporting emerging artists through its Freewheel project which gives the cast and creative team of young professionals the opportunity to learn more about their craft through a longer rehearsal process and allows for additional teaching and training. They have grasped this challenge with relish in what is an impressive, gleeful production.
Ellan Parry’s atmospheric set of grey locked and chained cupboards with many secret compartments is intriguing and creates the ideal background with an aura of bleakness.
Alex Mann, dressed in a threadbare quilted coat, is superb as the miserly skinflint Harpagon who refuses to spend any money on himself or his children and has stashed away his vast fortune, burying some of it in the garden. He is totally obsessed and will do anything to avoid spending money much to the angst of his family.
His wily daughter Elise, alluringly played by Helen Sorren, is in love with Harpagon’s steward Valere, a splendid performance from Daniel Wilde who is painfully and hilariously ingratiating to his master.
Ben Ashton is marvellous as the ostentatious strutting peacock of a son Cleante who is in love with the innocent Marianne, the charming Charlie Russell, who comes from a very poor family and cannot provide a dowry in order that she can marry Cleante.
The tension mounts when Harpagon announces that he is about to marry Marianne that very evening, plunging Cleante into a panic as he desperately tries to borrow money to pay for the dowry with farcical results.
The lovers are reassured by the matchmaker Frosine, a delightful, robust and energetic portrayal by Eliza Collings, whose wit and quick thinking manages to keep all sides placated, convincing Harpagon that, “How could anyone love a puppy when they could have a dog” and to Marianne, “What’s the point in marrying an old man if widowhood was not in the marriage contract.”
Edmund Digby-Jones brings some lovely touches of humour as the cook and coachman Maitre Jacques, who is forced to produce food without any money and is worried that his horses are starving.
There are some magical moments of clowning that echoes the Commedia dell‘arte genre and are filled with comic invention and audience participation.
This is a perfect evening’s entertainment full of fun and mischief that leaves you feeling good, the perfect escape from the wet miserable weather. Bravo.
There are reviews in The Public Reviews ("this new production... ramps up the fun and squeezes every last laugh out of Martin Sherman’s adaptation... a slow burner until the humour is fully unleashed in the final 30 minutes" 4 stars) and The Stage ("the young performers examine and capably develop their characters, blending typical commedia influence into the unique Watermill setting").
There's an interesting article...
... by the Watermill's 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
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)