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Kintbury Players

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Last production


At the Coronation Hall, Kintbury.


From Bastables the Butchers, Church Street, Kintbury.

Reviews of Downturn Abbey

22nd to 24th November 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

What ho! That was a bally good romp

Kintbury Players: Downturn Abbey, at the Coronation Hall, Kintbury, from Thursday, November 22, to Saturday, November 24

With what might seem startling honesty, writer and director Julie Carlisle admits she has never seen an episode of Downton Abbey, the popular television series that this play satirises.

To be clear though, as the politicians are now fond of saying, what she and co-writer and husband William Forde wanted was to adapt a PG Wodehouse story for the stage, but the Wodehouse Trust gave an emphatic 'No'. So that would be why we had lots of' 'toodle pip's, 'dash it all's and 'what a bally nuisance' outbursts then? Now, think in terms of Bertie Wooster meets Downton Abbey and you are in the right neighbourhood. And a very funny, sometimes hilarious, neighbourhood it was too.

First on stage was Stan Dooley, making the most of the part of Lord 'Gussy' Downturn, a cheeky, often inebriated young man in the Wooster style. Roy Hutchings played the butler in a starchy, obsequious manner and Veronica Bullard put in a strong performance as Aunt Milicent, her movements and facial expressions saying it all.

Julian Dickins was also good with the expressions on his face as the long-suffering Lord Downturn, trying hard to keep everybody happy, and Tiffany Saul hammed it up effectively as Lady D. Other parts were played with gusto and relish by Natalie Ann Riley, Gerry Heaton, Jane Minchin, Ben Prout and a strong turn from Derek Clements as a mostly silent, but very visible under butler. He it was who, when asked to bring in the son and heir, misunderstood and brought in Lady D's hair extension. Saul turned up again as Maud Miggins, this time able to do a cockney turn as a chaperone.

The pace of the play was crisp and smooth and the many scene changes made quickly and effectively, a tribute to Julie Carlisle's direction, although she did herself a disservice by omitting her own name from the programme. Fortunately, most people at the Coronation Hall would know the writers or would have seen the posters, but it did highlight the pitfalls that are likely to catch you out when working in the Wodehouse area of mishaps and misadventures.

What matters though, is that this was a thoroughly good romp, played up for all it was worth by the actors, who must surely have enjoyed themselves as much as the audience.


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