site search by freefind advanced

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

Watermill - Boxford Masques

26th to 29th July 2012.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Little drama with a big heart

Boxford Masque: A Little Drama at the Big House, at Welford Park, from Wednesday, July 25 to Sunday, July 29

It may well have been called A Little Drama at the Big House, but this production was fairly big all round.

A community play for Berkshire, written by Geraldine McCaughrean and staged on a large, purpose-built set in front of the imposing façade of Welford House, the production, directed by Ade Morris, gave lively work for two hours to 29 actors, an army of small boys and girls and a substantial cast of backstage workers.

Mind you, they needed them all. The first thing to strike the viewer was the authenticity of the costumes and, after that, the smoothness and continuity of the choreography. Having had experience of amateur play directing, I know how difficult it is to stage actors without them bumping into the furniture, so I am full of admiration for people like Ade Morris, who moved 41 people, including children, without serious accident across the stage throughout.

The play, set in the early years of the 20th century, focuses on a man's attempt to amuse his bored wife at their country house, by staging a play, to be performed by the estate workers and house staff. What can go wrong? Well, everything, of course... and it does.

In many ways, the star of the show was the house itself, built in 1652 and remodelled in 1700. Twelve of the 19 windows at the front opened up to display actors inside wielding dusters or shaking out sheets at the start.

All the actors were good, but if I pick out Beth West, Jak Ford Lane, Simon Fenton, Lizzie Lewis, Roselyn Ware and John Harding, it is because they had the best parts with the best lines and they made the most of them.

I do wonder though, what happened to the family at Welford House while all this was going on?