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

New Era Players - Sneaking into the Theatre

9th to 11th February 2017

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

The play's the thing

New Era Players: Sneaking into the Theatre, at the New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Thursday, February 9, to Saturday, February 11

Theatres are magical places, filled with wonder and brought to life by the actors and directors, together with the technical team who create the set, costumes and lighting, to be enjoyed by the audiences who flock to London West End block busters as well as Newbury's professional theatres – and, of course, the many local amateur dramatic societies.

These dedicated members have a passion to keep theatre alive and thriving within their local communities and this is the theme in Chris Biliingham's highly-enjoyable, funny and poignant play Sneaking into the Theatre.

It is set in a deserted theatre, where we meet six actors who seek refuge in the cradle of the theatre's stage to work through their issues.

Each one has their own story to tell. Louis (Adam Osmond) brings his girlfriend Abby (Pippa Higgins) to the stage. She has to escape from her home and starts to perform various speeches from famous plays while Louis tries to remember his lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream, when he played Bottom. Slowly, we learn about Abby's father and her previous boyfriend.

They are interrupted by the arrival of the insecure, nervous lighting technician Claire, perfectly portrayed by Ellie Selby, who suffers from poor circulation and a tickly cough. You can't help but feel sorry for her situation and lack of confidence.

She is accompanied by Kate (Jenni Collins), who has plans to seduce Claire, but is uncertain about the relationship and "likes things to follow a process".

Gareth Capner is the stalwart theatre manager David, who is grieving over the death of his wife and seeking solace in the theatre where he had happy memories of their productions together.

His daughter Lea (Nicola Johnson) is trying to persuade him to continue in his role but David is reluctant to carry on and the future of the theatre and the society is in doubt without David at the helm.

But how will it all be resolved? To tell any more would be a spoiler.

Confidently directed by Chris Billingham and Verity Walker, they create an intriguing insight into amateur dramatics and cleverly use recorded voiceovers to provide the back story to the members' lives.

But no matter what the trials and tribulations that they encounter, the final lines sum up their dedication to performing, for "the play's the thing".