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Resurrection Players - Residents Resurrected

30th to 31st October 2015

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Dead return to tell their tales

Newtown Road Cemetery a starting point for six monologues performed over Hallowe'en

The Resurrection Players: Residents Resurrected, at the Phoenix Centre, Newbury on Friday, October 30, and Saturday, October 31

Nine dead people came back from the grave to speak to a Newbury audience on Hallowe'en weekend. They crossed the road from the Newtown Road Cemetery and entered the Phoenix Centre and there they told their stories.

They were put together by the Friends of Newtown Cemetery, now formed as the Resurrection Players and directed by Ros Clow, who did much of the writing and the considerable research into the lives of these ancient townsfolk. She constructed six fascinating monologues, set against pictures and photographs of significant buildings. Dave Stubbs was convincing as the sexton, approached by the Grim Reaper, played by Bryan Sylvester in an all-white costume, as a chatty, friendly sort of chap. I rather think dour, menacing and all in black would have been more in character for this gruesome fellow...

One of the best performances came from Michael Huxtable as William Corden, copyist and painter to Queen Victoria. He managed to convey just the right mix of arrogance, quiet assurance and the self-confidence of one accustomed to working in high places.

The other strong portrayal came from Lydia Massey as Sarah Louise Hopson, who worked as a servant at Wickham House, conveying the pain, sense of loss and attempt to make the best of life from a woman who went to the workhouse to have her baby, only for the infant to die days later.

Paul Shave effectively underplayed Herbert Finn – a masterbrewer who successfully ran the Phoenix Brewery for many years but failed in his marriage.

There were good cameos from Mike Brook as a local teacher, Thomas Buckingham and Derek Gale. David Clow as Victor, William Corden's son, had nothing to do but operate a slideshow of pictures, nod or shake his head in denial, but his gestures were effective enough.

Costumes were spot on and the settings just right.

Not all of these local people are buried in Newtown Road but all lived and worked in Newbury and had interesting stories to tell.

Ros Clow is to be congratulated for bringing these interesting, long dead residents back to life for their brief hour-and-a-half on stage. May they rest in peace now.