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

Newbury Dramatic Society

The Newbury Dramatic Society web site is at Facebook. Twitter: @NewburyDramatic

Last production


Friday 24th May | Chequers Hotel, Newbury
Tuesday 28th May | Kingsclere Library
Wednesday 29th May | St Michael’s Church, Enborne
Thursday 30th May | Fawley Church, Fawley
Friday 31st May | Catholic Hall. Lambourn

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Details and tickets are available direct from the venues, or

Review of Wessex and Hardy – On the Cusp of Change

24th to 31st May 2024

Review from The Newbury Weekly News.

The essential Thomas Hardy

This was the third venue out of five that NDS presented their new one act play by Ann Davidson about Thomas Hardy and his beloved Wessex.

It isn’t easy to create a rural setting in the 19th century and portray people of the time in a very early church with no scenery and very few props. What the actors did have were very good costumes and, wrapped in these and adopting their best attempts at a Dorset accent, brought this one-act play to life.

Ian Martin and Paul Strickland effectively transformed themselves into various Hardy characters and there was good acting and some singing from Sarah Enticknap, Ruth Masters and Ros Kitson. The women also did well transforming themselves into sheep with a minimum of woolly fabric. They even did a little sheep dance at one point.

Parry Bates played Hardy as a young man and read lines from some of his poems.

The play focuses on the hard but acceptable lives of rural communities at the tune and Hardy’s attempts – usually unsuccessful – to get better pay for country workers.

For Hardy, the countryside he lived in was idyllic and he watched change with suspicion. He objected strongly to rough work, which he felt unsuitable for women.

There were, of course, many references to the bad weather, rain and snow in abundance. The storm scene from Far From the Madding Crowd was mentioned briefly, a good example of real-life tragedy that Hardy managed to portray in one of his novels.

Another was from the same book showing the catastrophe of Gabriel Oak losing his herd of sheep and with them his livelihood as they fell over the cliff into the sea. The mention of Tess of the d’Urbervilles indicated Hardy’s concern about the difficult lives of women at the time. But he did not want change if it interfered with his serene country life. He wasn’t happy about the industrial revolution and found life in towns uncomfortable. A shy man, he would run out of his back door rather than face strangers at the front.

Much of the character and times of this complex writer were captured in this short play.


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NDS is the oldest established amateur theatre group in the Newbury area. Current membership is around 45, and we stage a variety of shows each year in local venues, and also enter regional drama festivals. Between rehearsals we have an active social calendar - events planned include bowling, a car treasure hunt and group outings to other theatres.

Previous productions

Contact Us

If you are interested in joining us in any capacity - whether as an actor, director, stage manager, backstage helper or programme seller - get in touch for details! Contact Ann Davidson at .