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


Hungerford And District Community Arts Festival, 30th June to 29th July 2001, at various locations in and around Hungerford.

The annual festival of arts, including theatre, in the Hungerford area.

Theatre events

A Festival of Theatre, 30th June to 2nd July, 7:30 (8:00 on Monday), Croft Hall.
Saturday: three one-act plays - see the review below.
Sunday: Dangerous Liaisons - see the Box Theatre Company page for details.
Monday: three one-act plays - see the review below.

Songs From the Shows, 7th July, 7:30, Croft Hall.
Free concert from Newbury Operatic Society.

One For the Road, 20th and 21st July, 7:30 (Fri), 8:00 (Sat),  Croft Hall.
By Willy Russell. Free. [I'm assuming that this is Didcot Phoenix's production - Ed]

A Festival of Theatre reviews

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Lively showcase of theatre

A FESTIVAL OF THEATRE 1: 'HENRY HEREAFTER', Hungerford Theatre Club, 'THE HOBBIT', Lisa Harrington's School of Drama, 'RELATIONSHIPS', New Era Players, at the Croft Hall, on Saturday, June 30

The Croft Hall in Hungerford provided an intimate venue for the first part of HADCAF's Festival of Theatre, especially for the front row!

Hungerford Theatre Club's 'Henry Hereafter', by Hal D. Stewart, concerned Henry VIII and his six well-defined and beautifully-dressed wives, marooned in a kind of limbo while it was decided who would go to Heaven and who to Hell.

I particularly liked Jennifer Hyde's Catherine of Aragon, and her excellent Spanish accent, and Karen Ashby was a feisty Anne Boleyn.

The play itself was too repetitive, and the performance lacked pace at times, but it was well staged, and the seraph's comment about there being no distinction between Protestants and Catholics in higher realms was worth pursuing.

Lisa Harrington's Drama School students were in pursuit of something in their adaptation of 'The Hobbit'. These youngsters has loads of energy, rushing about and shouting a lot, but the piece lacked clarity, and was over-long. The story was difficult to follow, partly because the taped narrative was unclear, and the actors spoke over it and each other too often. There were inconsistencies too - although "Hobbits don't wear shoes", two of them did, and I'm sure modern watches didn't exist in Middle Earth. They have potential though. Emma Hawkins was an assertive Gandalf, and Zoe Iles' Gollum was excellent. Other highlights included the tableau in the Hall of the Goblin King and the rescue by the Eagles.

They could have learnt something about disciplined pace, focus, and clear articulation from New Era Players' performance of N. J. Warburton's 'Easy Stages'.

Members of an AmDram group endeavoured to strike a set to the satisfaction of their stage manager, played by Stephen Bennett. Gerry was a real prima donna, striking poses and shouting orders, particularly at the whining, blundering Patsy, played by Lisa Harrington. Jill Lynn was delightfully scatty as Gill, and Jackie Fripp's Alice was very dry and perceptive. Ed Hopgood's's cameo as Sid was brilliant - his expression spoke volumes. It was funny, if a little predictable, and very well done, and a nice way to end a lively evening.


What happened to the review of the second night (Les Liaisons Dangereuses)?

Acting the part

FESTIVAL OF THEATRE 3, at the Croft Hall, on Monday, July 2

At this third theatre evening, a capacity audience endured hot and stuffy surroundings to be entertained by what was at times quite classy comedy, performed by three local amateur groups. One of the scripts mentioned disparagingly that such groups "always do a farce", and indeed, that is often the case. Nevertheless, given something substantial to work with, and exacting direction, amateur actors can deliver very high standards.

In Charles Mander's 'World Premiere', performed by Newbury Dramatic Society, a hapless and incompetent amateur dramatic society fails to have a technical rehearsal. Between the smug Stuart (Alistair Parry) and the sarcastic Sonia (Rebecca Girdler), it wasn't surprising that the company was such a nightmare, especially for Val, (Daphne Outwin), moving all the furniture and fainting.

Sarah Deal did a great job as the drunken Ruth, and Gareth Warne was a sincere and likeable Brisket It was very funny in parts, as was The Ravensbury Players' 'Last Tango in Little Grimley', where the four members of an AmDram group struggle to put on their final show. The characters were still quite stereotyped, but the balance in the script and the fact that they didn't quite go over the top meant that the comedy was well-sustained.

The characters had in common the fact that they couldn't act, but they were so well played that their incompetence became very funny, especially the excruciating scene between the near-hysterical Margaret and self-effacing Joyce (Penny Setter and Philippa Heap) which the director insisted on repeating time after time. David Hobbs was great as the cynical Bernard, with perfectly timed comments on the state of affairs.

Kintbury Players performed Alan Ayckbourn's 'A Cut in the Rates'. They had a clever set, and three excellent actors. Jean Newlands was the repressed, nervy Monica, Martin Barrett the suave, scary Ratchet, and Jill Scrivenor the supposed neighbour and the supposedly un-dead Rosalinda, who'd met her end being sawn in half in Ratchet's illusion show. The characterisations were spot on, well sustained and well-rounded, proving that given a good script and tight direction, great things can come from small AmDram societies.