New Era Players
Backstage helpers wanted! See below.
Emma, 14th to 23rd March
One of Jane Austen's most-loved novels has been adapted for stage to create a vibrant play which retains the essence of Austen’s wit. The plot centres around the wealthiest young lady in Highbury, Emma Woodhouse, who fancies herself as a skilled matchmaker, based on her belief that she brought together her former governess and a local squire, Mr Weston. She takes under her wing a young girl, Harriet Smith, who has many personal attractions but is of ‘questionable’ birth. Emma believes that she can find Harriet a more eligible match than the worthy farmer, Mr Martin, who has already offered Harriet his hand in marriage. Much of the ensuing drama revolves around the many misunderstandings and missteps such matchmaking involves. Emma’s machinations are observed by her oldest friend, Mr Knightley, who thoroughly disapproves of her meddling.
Waiting for Godot, June 13th to 22nd. By Samuel Beckett.
If We Are Women, 5th to 14th September. By Joanna McClelland Glass.
Arcadia, 28th November to 7th December. By Tom Stoppard.
New Era Theatre, Wash Common, Newbury RG14 6NU.
07919 916009 or email . Book tickets online at the New Era web site.
Review of Blithe Spirit
23rd November to 1st December 2023
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Spirited Coward revival
Blithe Spirit New Era’s tribute to the 125th anniversary of playwright’s birth
With nearly 2,000 performances following its opening in the West End in 1941, Blithe Spirit was the most successful play in the country’s history until overtaken by The Mousetrap and there can’t be many amateur theatre companies that haven't indulged in its frivolity.
Indeed, it continues to enjoy professional revivals with Judi Dench and Jennifer Saunders recently appearing as Madame Arcati on film and stage.
Essentially, the play is one protracted joke, as familiar and comforting as an old cardigan. As each outing passes, we may wonder why we keep getting it out of the cupboard, but we still do. As with any old joke though, it’s not the punch line that counts, but the way it’s told.
As the curtain opens on New Era’s production, we are presented with a convincingly cosy 1930s sitting room. Compliments to Jane Read for the design which, we later see, has a few supernatural tricks up its sleeve.
In the opening scene, Ruth, the lady of the house, attempts to prepare gauche young maid Edith for an imminent dinner party. The contrast between Ruth, played with domineering chilliness by Sally Hall, and Ellie Maslin’s slightly terrified Edith lays the ground for the entrance of Charles and an exposition of the play’s central plot line.
In order to progress with the writing of his next novel, Charles Condomine needs to research into the tricks and wiles of a spiritual medium. He’s invited local eccentric Madame Arcati to dinner along with Dr and Mrs Bradman, there to make up the numbers and disguise his true intentions for the evening.
Condomine’s first wife, Elvira, died seven years previously but remains a source of some envy with new wife, Ruth. Following dinner, the group take part in a séance. Even those unfamiliar with the story (unlikely) will, at this point, surely predict what’s coming next, so there’s no real spoiler alert here. Madame Arcati manages to summon, to her own surprise and delight, the spirit of Elvira.
However, only Charles can see and hear her which inevitably leads to a number of crossed, and increasingly cross, conversations as the imperious Ruth and flirtatious Elvira compete to possess Charles. Elvira’s cunning plan is to get Charles to pass over to her side by sabotaging his car. The plan backfires when Ruth takes the car out with the result that Charles ends up being haunted by both of his still bickering wives.
As the shallow and fickle Charles, David Tute does a fine job vacillating between deferring to the frosty demands of Ruth and succumbing to the arch coquettishness of Georgie Gale’s Elvira.
The part of Madame Arcati is a gift to any actor with a flair for the exuberant and its invitation is gratefully accepted and embraced by Lisa Harrington who embellishes the role with enthusiastic and at rimes quite alarming physical and vocal expressions of mumbo jumbo.
Making up the company are the politely sceptical Dr Bradman played as an earnest Scot by Gareth Croft, and his out of her depth wife (Jacqui Thumper) whose only recognisable characteristic is that her comments are always misinterpreted.
Overall, director Stephen Bennett’s revival has warmth and pace. There were a few places when the dialogue, like Charles’s car at the end of the play, took a corner too quickly and left the road forcing the actors to scrabble to regain control but this they managed well.
This production sits neatly into a very English heritage of comedies at the wry smile end of the scale rather than the side-splitting laugh end.
About New Era
This small, friendly and very successful theatre group was established in Newbury in 1978, and we are lucky enough to have our own small theatre in Wash Common. (click here for a map). We produce several plays each year covering a wide variety of theatrical styles.
New Players Acting Membership
Share the experience of performing on stage; join the challenge of set-building or the creativity of costume design; enjoy the teamwork in whatever direction your talents take you. You could be an active participant in our future productions, or join us for play readings, workshops, theatre outings and a variety of social events. Whether you are experienced or just have bags of enthusiasm, you can be assured of a warm welcome.
If you are interested in becoming an acting member please email our membership coordinator at the address .
To book tickets for any of our productions, please contact our Box Office on 07919 916009 for more information.
Blithe Spirit, 23rd November to 2nd December 2023
True West, 24th August to 2nd September 2023. See the review in the archive.
Behind the Masque, 22nd June to 1st July 2023. See the review in the archive.
Great Expectations, 16th to 25th March 2023. See the review in the archive.
The Whole Truth, 1st to 10th December 2022. See the review in the archive.
The Hollow, 8th to 17th September 2022. See the review in the archive.
A Bunch of Amateurs, 16th to 25th June 2022. See the review in the archive.
Under Milk Wood, 17th to 26th March 2022. See the review in the archive.
Lloyd George Knew My Father, 18th to 27th November 2021
Daisy Pulls It Off, 17th to 26th June 2021. See the review in the archive.
The Happiest Days of Your Life, 27th to 30th November and 3rd to 7th December 2019. See the review in the archive.
The Anniversary, 4th to 7th September and 11th to 14th September 2019. See the review in the archive.
All My Sons, 6th to 8th June and 11th to 15th June 2019. See the review in the archive.
The Tempest, 14th to 16th March and 19th to 23rd March 2019. See the review in the archive.
The Heiress, 28th to 30th November and 4th to 8th December 2018. See the review in the archive.
Second Person Narrative, 6th to 8th September and 11th to 15th September 2018. See the review in the archive.
A View from the Bridge, 14th to 16th June and 19th to 23rd June 2018. See the review in the archive.
The Glass Menagerie, 14th to 24th March 2018. See the review in the archive.
A Christmas Carol, 29th November to 9th December 2017. See the review in the archive.
Dear Lupin, 7th to 9th September and 12th to 16th September 2017. See the review in the archive.
The Importance of Being Earnest, 6th to 8th July 2017 at Shaw House Outdoor Theatre, Newbury
Di and Viv and Rose, 15th to 17th June and 20th to 24th June 2017. See the review in the archive.
The Kitchen Sink, 15th to 18th March and 21st to 25th March 2017. See the review in the archive.
Sneaking into the Theatre, 9th to 11th February 2017. See the review in the archive.
Collaborators, 30th November to 3rd December and 6th to 10th December 2016. See the review in the archive.
October Double Bill 2016, 27th to 29th October 2016. See the review in the archive.
The Importance Of Being Earnest, 7th to 10th September and 13th to 17th September 2016. See the review in the archive.
Pride and Prejudice, 30th June to 2nd July 2016. See the review in the archive.
God of Carnage, 8th to 11th June and 14th to 18th June 2016. See the review in the archive.
Gaslight, 9th to 12th March and 14th to 19th March 2016. See the review in the archive.
Foxfinder, 2nd to 5th December and 8th to 12th December 2015. See the review in the archive.
Twists in the Tales, 29th to 31st October 2015. See the review in the archive.
Pride and Prejudice, 9th to 12th September and 15th to 19th September 2015
Be My Baby, 11th to 13th June and 16th to 20th June 2015. See the review in the archive.
Travels With My Aunt, 12th to 14th March and 17th to 21st March 2015. See the review in the archive.
Someone Somewhere Smiled, 12th to 14th February 2015. See the review in the archive.
The Memory of Water, 4th to 6th December and 9th to 13th December 2014. See the review in the archive.
An Evening with Valerie Maskell, 16th to 18th October 2014
Oh What a Lovely War, 11th to 20th September 2014. See the review in the archive.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3rd to 5th July 2014
Heroes, 12th to 21st June 2014. See the review in the archive.
The Passion, 24th to 28th March 2014 at St John's Church, Newbury. See the review in the archive.
Calendar Girls, 29th November to 7th December 2013. See the review in the archive.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 12th to 21st September 2013. See the review in the archive.
Our Man In Havana, 13th to 15th June and 18th to 22nd June 2013
Happy Birthday Mr Shakespeare, 25th to 27th April 2013
Quartet, 14th to 16th March and 19th to 23rd March 2013. See the review in the archive.
Absent Friends, November 2012. See the review in the archive.
When We Are Married, September 2012
Sylvia, June 2012
The Actor and the Audience, April 2012
Talking Heads, March 2012
Bouncers, December 2011
People Snogging in Public Places, October 2011
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby: Part Two, September 2011
Disposing of the Body, March 2011
Twelfth Night, December 2010
Amy's View, September2010
Humble Boy, March 2010
The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery, December 2009
Nicholas Nickelby, September 2009
Present Laughter, March 2009
The Lion in Winter, November 2008
84 Charing Cross Road, September 2008
Hobson's Choice, June 2008
Duet For One, March 2008
Playhouse Creatures, November 2007
Make Way for Lucia, March 2007
The Trojan Women, March 2007
The Philadelphia Story, November 2006
Art, September 2006
A Murder Is Announced, June 2006
The Winslow Boy, March 2006
Arms and the Man, December 2005
Single Spies, September 2005
This Happy Breed, June 2005
The Playboy of the Western World, March 2005
The Miser, November 2004
Shadowlands, September 2004
Solitaire, a set of monologues, June 2004
The Beauty Queen of Leenane, March 2004
The Murder of Maria Martin, or The Red Barn, November 2003
Maskerade, September 2003
Pygmalion, June 2003
Shakers, March 2003
Daisy Pulls it Off, December 2002
Les Liaisons Dangereuses, September 2002
The Red Hot Donahue Sisters Discover Droitwich, June 2002
Next to a Stranger, March 2002
The Fire Raisers, December 2001
Rattle of a Simple Man, September 2001
Suddenly At Home, June 2001
Cider With Rosie, March 2001
A Woman in Mind, December 2000
Charley's Aunt, September 2000
Letter from a General
Night School; Landscape; Victoria Station
Dancing at Lughnasa
The Birthday Party
Arsenic and Old Lace
Under Milk Wood
The Plough & the Stars
Ring Round the Moon
Born in the Gardens
Shadow of a Gunman
The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue
The Real Thing
Le Malade Imaginaire
Juno & the Paycock