Past Productions

Last updated by Julian on 14 July 2019

A table of productions from October 1996 to March 2014 is at the bottom of this page

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Daisy Pulls it Off – July 2019

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Review

Hamble Players Youth Theatre – Hamble Village Memorial Hall

An affectionate parody of the English boarding school novels, such as Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers stories, Denise Deegan’s comedy play with its 1920s setting draws extensively from such source material to create lively stereotypes and to espouse the casual snobbery and xenophobia that you might find in them.  Add into the mix a struggle to beat snobbish rivals, a treasure hunt, a daring rescue and an all-important hockey match and there is plenty of excitement to be had. 

The nicely designed set did much to create the right atmosphere and ambience for the exclusive board school – Grangewood – which was almost a character in the story itself.  The clever use of a small number of benches allowed for some flexible staging, whilst adding further to the overall look of the school environment. 

The whole cast showed commendable energy and enthusiasm creating a vibrant and enjoyable show.  All had the opportunity to shine and all grasped this without hesitation. 

The show was anchored by a charming and committed performance by Emillie Rogers as Daisy.  Called on to be continually good, Emillie brought a great sweetness and a certain steel to the character, making the audience really invest in and care about her fate.  She had a wonderfully sparky double act with the perky, enthusiastic Trixie played with great vim by Poppy Baxter.  Their special secret handshake was a delightful touch.

Lily Hardman (Sybil) and Lucy Houghton (Monica) were suitably loathsome as Daisy’s snobbish tormentors, making their change of heart later on more affecting.  Jasmine Mould radiated gravitas and beaming kindness as Clare Beaumont head girl and “a shining example of British girlhood”, and the person for whom most of the school would do anything.  Eloise Green was touching as her close friend and admirer Alice.  Charlie Baxter did a good job as the Principal Miss Gibson, creating a not unfavourable memory of the original St Trinian films and the incomparable Alistair Sims as the headmistress.

It was first night so the play was still in the bedding down process. There were a number of fluffed lines and one or two of the cast needed to slow down slightly and project their lines a little more to make them properly audible.

The production was staged deftly, generally maintaining a good pace and drawing the audience along with what is really a rather thin plot.  There were some lovely touches such as the scenes during the train journey and the use of tableau struck by the cast when Daisy arrived at the school for the first time.  It lost just a little of its oomph latterly as we moved towards the glorious convoluted happy ending.  The hockey match, so iconic and so central to the plot, needed to have been a bit tighter to ensure it had the impact it deserved.

Overall, this was a charming and heart-warming show – just “simply topping” fun.

Karen Robson

The Last Talent Show – April 2019

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Review

It is always an interesting experience seeing a new work, since there is no road map to what might follow. It must be similarly interesting for those producing such a work to place their mark on something so pristine and new.

The Last Talent Show, the comedy/drama written by John Quinn and Barry Tracey, is mainly set back-stage on the grand finale night of a talent show and is as much a rumination about fame and celebrity in the modern era as about talent or entertainment. The premise is explored with a degree of charm and wit and performed with great enthusiasm by the ensemble cast.

The production has succeeded very effectively in meeting the challenge of designing a set with no set and providing space for a play within the back-stage setting. There is a clever use of the auditorium space to create two distinct spaces (back-stage and on stage) and to facilitate a real sense of movement from one arena to the other public space.

It is early days and the production still had a slightly unfinished feel about it, as if it was not quite totally gelled.  There were amusing set pieces as we met a variety of the acts, but the first felt a bit fragmentary and uneven: it was only in the second half that it seemed to gain a greater momentum and flow.

The performances were solid. However, there were still a few fluffed lines, the delivery of certain characters that felt a little tentative and some distracting accents that strayed rather too many degrees on the compass from the place of supposed origin. Where the characters went “big”, they certainly made an impression. So take a bow Leanne Wilkins as the traffic warden Rose Royce, Carol Ings as the singer Agnes Arbuthnot, Georgie Burton as Bobby Benjamin, the host with the annoying catch phrase making his entertainment return, and Kristy Hepworth as Mike “the Mountie” Archer, the debt collector and aspiring drummer, who was one of the highlights of the second half.  Oh and of course Princess the chicken who made fleeting but memorable appearances.

An amusing and entertaining piece that despite not quite yet reaching its peak went down well with the audience on the night that I attended.

Karen Robson

 

Snow White – December 2018

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 Review – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

It was opening night in panto land for Hamble Players and the augers were good from the start of proceedings with the enchanting Fairy Fortune, every inch the ideal fairy godmother of such tales. At the end of the evening the audience were left with a big smile on their faces having been engaged with a fresh take on panto world courtesy of a witty and nimble script by Alan Frayn. There were plenty of jokes, both good and lame, and a rather good running gag of characters from other pantos constantly popping up and interrupting the action.

Director Maria Barnett has created a show that flows well and makes a good use of the auditorium space. A couple of technical glitches with sound and a few fluffed lines aside, the show was already pretty much bedded in and will certainly develop and iron out any little kinks with subsequent performances.

The scenery was cleverly done, and the design of the magic mirror was particularly impressive. There was some great use of lighting, particularly for Avarice, the wicked queen, and the costumes were magnificent.

The production was well cast, and the company’s enthusiasm and enjoyment were contagious. Andrea Swemmer made an impressive baddy as the wicked Queen Avarice, dressed in a wonderful concoction of a costume that must be the envy of others in the evil queen costume stakes. The way she haughtily stalked up the auditorium was a delight.

Snow White (Tara Barton-Leigh) – dressed as a very recognisable Disney princess – and the Prince (Susan Barton-Leigh) made a charming central couple and sang their roles with aplomb. The new comedy duo of Judge Quill (Tim Hughes) and his side-kick/scribe Scribbles (Lita Buckley), here as an effete eighteenth-century dandy and his rather clumsy assistant, were a welcome addition to the cast. The seven dwarfs all had distinct characters and each actor gave an endearing performance of their role.

For the madcap antics, all credit should go to Beverley Sell as Edna and Jay Skyler Wright as Chuckles, who had a real rapport with the audience and worked hard to get them involved, even if the first night audience was somewhat reticent and subdued. Edna’s rendition of the song Moves Like Jagger was one of the high points of the evening.

Great fun.

Karen Robson

 

The Clove Thief – September 2018

The Glove Thief – Hamble Players Youth Theatre

Set in 1569, Beth Flintoff’s fascinating play focuses on the story of three of the most powerful women of the day – Elizabeth I, Queen of England, her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, and Beth of Hardwicke, once the richest woman in England, and the person chosen by Elizabeth to play host or jailor to Mary – as told by Rose, the glove thief of the title, who finds herself used by Beth to spy on Mary.

Slyly subverting historical narratives and representatives of gender, and with many modern resonances, the play presents these characters as strong women well able to succeed in the male dominated world of power and politics.  Indeed, these are women who can turn the feminine and seemingly harmless pastime of embroidery into a dangerous and subversive act.

The stark black set, with its brick panels and depictions of the signatures of the two queens (based on examples found in historical documents) created the perfect backdrop for the action.  It helped enhance the sense of intrigue that was part of the narrative thread of the story. It also focused attention on the characters and dialogue, an excellent decision given that both were so worthy of attention.

The direction was tight, choreographing the action very well and drawing out the subtleties of the narrative to its full degree.  Despite many scene changes, the production kept its pace and momentum, carefully building the sense of intrigue as the story unfolded.

There was a good use of lighting and the costumes, although not slavish in trying to recreate the period, worked wonderfully in their depictions of the various characters.

The production was favoured by a strong cast of young players who continue to develop and grow with each show and all gave good performances.  Eloise Green was particularly affecting as the pragmatic yet slightly haunted Beth of Hardwicke, while Jasmine Mould was in impressive form as a fittingly regal Elizabeth I.  Isabelle Whitcher showed why Mary was considered so charming and charismatic.  Georgie Burton finely illustrated the subtleties and dangerous qualities of the spymaster Lord Walsingham.  The cast managed the complexities and nuances of what was a fairly wordy script with great confidence, although perhaps there could have been a degree greater projection of voices at certain points, particularly amongst the narrators in the final scene when they were speaking over music.

Overall an interesting piece of theatre, performed with skill and commitment.

Karen Robson

 

Cheshire Cats – July 2018

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Review

Funny, honest and authentic, with something of an emotional punch, Gail Young’s play tackled a potentially tricky subject in an unfussy but sensitive manner.  Ostensibly this was the tale of the Cheshire Cats team of Hilary, Siobhan, Vicky, Yvonne and Maggie, and their eleventh-hour replacement for the sixth member of the team, as they took part in a cancer charity fundraising Moonwalk in London.  But it also took time to explore the lives of these 5 women, enabling us to learn more about their motivation for participating, a dramatic and sometimes poignant counterbalance to the comic bickering of this group of friends.

 The production was simply staged, with the minimum of props.  It moved at an excellent pace and the constant changes of scene in act 2 were managed in an interesting and dynamic way.  Great use was made of the stage and auditorium spaces, together with lighting and music, and the production was pitch perfect in capturing the euphoria and camaraderie of such charity events.

Director Wayne Ings handled the material with confidence and sensitivity, drawing fine performances from his ensemble cast.

 The five women characters – Vicky (Beverly Sell), Maggie (Jillian Wildgoose), Hilary (Kristy Hepworth), Siobhan (Amanda Evans) and Yvonne (Sue Barton-Leigh) – were well drawn and strongly acted.  There was a real dynamic spark and believable sense of camaraderie between the characters.  Some lovely comic acting was counterbalanced by the poignancy of the soliloquies of Hilary and in particular the final one of Maggie.  The use of the soliloquy was a clever and effective device that permitted the audience a glimpse of the real person behind the façade and added to the sense of authenticity of the writing.

 Peter Revis was in fine form as Andrew the eventual sixth member of the team, revealed to have considerably more hidden depths than to the charming joker to whom we are initially introduced.  The supporting cast all enjoyed their moments, with the race marshals Madge and Emma in particular making their mark.  For anyone who travels by train, the running joke of the all too recognisable train announcement that became unintelligible at all the crucial moments was also something to enjoy.

 This was a fun and moving play that celebrated the endeavours of ordinary people undertaking extraordinary things.  It deserves to be celebrated by a somewhat larger audience than that of the football world cup semi-final night.

 Karen Robson

Prepare to Meet Thy Tomb – April 2018

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REVIEW 18 APRIL 2018

 

This comic thriller by Norman Robbins completes the trilogy of plays about the Tomb family, a family of professional or, as it turns out, not so professional, assassins who are described as playing together and slaying together.  The evening provided a heady mix of over the top characters in a spoof with murder mystery and enough plot twists and double crossings to avoid any sense of the predictable.

The nicely designed set – the sitting room at Monument House, a country house in Norfolk – captured perfectly the atmosphere and Gothic undertones needed for the story.  Director Sheila Barker maintained a firm grip on the proceedings, choreographing the action with precision and moving the action along at a reasonable pace.  The use of music and lighting at the end of each act highlighted the latest dramatic, usually murderous, turn in the plot, whilst also maintaining just the right comic tone.

There was very distinct and detailed characterisation of each role, with each cast member owning their role.  All worked hard to breathe life into what could be rather one dimensional or slightly stereotypical characters.  Overall the production hit exactly the right light-hearted tone needed for the material.  There were still a few fluffed lines and moments of uncertainty; delivery could have been a bit sharper to really nail all the laughs.

Beverley Sell (Hecuba Tomb) made the most of the role, her slightly bohemian costume and clanking beads and bracelets suggesting a figure altogether more benign than the keen poisoner and disposer of bodies that was her character.  Wayne Ings was obviously having a blast as the vainglorious and very camp Quentin Danesworth, an initially fun character that nevertheless, like some others, suffered from the one-dimensional problem.  Georgie Ray Burton was impressive as the hapless Antony Strickland, the PA with a few tricks up his sleeve, as was Kristy Hepworth as Phillipa Collins, the writer of crime fiction with more than a few ideas of her own.

This was a fun and entertaining evening, performed with gusto and commitment by the Hamble Players.

Karen Robson

Aladdin – December 2017

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An original and funny script provides all the necessary ingredients for a first-class and spectacular production of this famous Oriental rags to riches tale.

Bursting with comedy and visual business, courtesy of  Widow Twankey, Wishee Washee and the two Chinese Policemen (Yu-Dun-Wong and Hu-Dun-Pong), there is ample opportunity for audience participation, slapstick and traditional pantomime fun.

Pride & Prejudice – July 2017

This tale of love and values unfolds in the class-conscious England of the late 18th century. The five Bennet sisters – including strong-willed Elizabeth and young Lydia – have been raised by their mother with one purpose in life: finding a husband. When a wealthy bachelor takes up residence in a nearby mansion, the Bennets are abuzz. Amongst the man’s sophisticated circle of friends, surely there will be no shortage of suitors for the Bennet sisters. But when Elizabeth meets up with the handsome and – it would seem – snobbish Mr. Darcy, the battle of the sexes is joined.

Daily Echo Review

There are numerous Austen related events in this bicentenary year of her death and Hamble Players Youth Theatre’s charming production makes a welcome addition.

This witty and clever adaptation beautifully distils the complexities of the plot into a series of bite sized scenes, whilst retaining the best of Jane Austen’s one liners.

A simple stage set provided a perfect background to the action, supplemented by a constant state of activity shifting around the props with the change of each scene.

The young cast seemed to have settled well into the challenge of tackling the wordy script and very much made their characters their own. Dressed in an unexpectedly staid (and more early 20th century) style, Eloise Green imbued Lizzie with enough sparkle to overcome this and her scenes with Darcy (Charlie Baxter), who was excellent, had real wit. Charly Armstong gave an eye catching turn as the incorrigible Mrs Bennet.

Karen Robson

 

Beauty & The Beast – December 2016

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Based firmly on the traditional tale, but with some similarities to the Disney film / musical, this new version brings Beauty and the Beast well and truly into the realm of pantomime.  Whilst the story lends itself willingly to this genre, it is in many respects a “one-off”, being very different to other popular pantomime subjects, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, providing a refreshing break from the more usual format.
Some of the characters are familiar, whilst some new ones have been created especially for this pantomime – for example the pair of comic beauticians – Marcel and Monique.
The name “Belle” is not a Disney invention, but dates back to the earliest (French) versions – in French the equivalent to “Beauty.”

Hamble Players Youth Theatre present – Blue Stockings – July 2016

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HYT-2016

Hamble Players Youth Theatre present this moving, comical and eye-opening story of four young women fighting for education and self-determination against the larger backdrop of women’s suffrage.

1896. Girton College, Cambridge, the first college in Britain to admit women. The Girton girls study ferociously and match their male peers grade for grade. Yet, when the men graduate, the women leave with nothing but the stigma of being a ‘blue stocking’ – an unnatural, educated woman. They are denied degrees and go home unqualified and unmarriageable.

In Blue Stockings, Tess Moffat and her fellow first years are determined to win the right to graduate. But little do they anticipate the hurdles in their way: the distractions of love, the cruelty of the class divide or the strength of the opposition, who will do anything to stop them. The play follows them over one tumultuous academic year, in their fight to change the future of education.

REVIEW: Blue Stockings, Hamble Players Youth Theatre, Memorial Hall, Hamble.

In the wake of the UK gaining its second female Prime Minister, a story focusing on the struggle for women’s education, rights and public role is incredibly prescient.

Jessica Swale’s play is the fascinating tale of four women students at Girton College, Cambridge, in 1896. By turns moving, comic and heartfelt, it was also somewhat educational as we were introduced to many of the philosophical, scientific and other ideas prevalent at the time.

The cast really threw themselves into the material and performed with a great deal of passion and commitment. There were some really nicely handled scenes and excellent interaction between the players. Isabelle Whitcher captured Tess’s steely determination and lack of self-confidence well and there was particularly good support from Eloise Green (Miss Blake) and Charlie Baxter (sympathetic Mr Banks).

While the staging used the auditorium and lighting well, the constant changing of props between scenes did ultimately become a little intrusive.

Karen Robson – Daily Echo

Blithe Spirit – March 2016

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Review:

“STEPPING into the memorial hall was like stepping into someone’s drawing room, such was the impressive set and props, complete with chandelier and French windows to the garden, through which the mischievous Elvira (Sue Barton-Leigh) made her ethereal entrance. But let’s backtrack to the period BE (before Elvira) where Charles (Peter Revis) and his wife, Ruth (Beverley Sell) affectionately banter and sail through life and innocently invite Madame Arcarti (Carol Ings) and their friends, the bumbling Dr Bradman (David Hughes) and his twittering wife (Sheila Barker) to participate in a séance. Big mistake! For all their scepticism, Arcarti has half a talent and manages to summon Charles’ expired wife. Ings was magnificent as the eccentric and exuberant medium, contrasting with the understandably disgruntled Ruth and her bewildered husband. Barton-Leigh also gave a sterling performance as she wreaked havoc. Proportionally the most laughs went to the smallest part, the maid Edith (Maria Barnett) who never missed an opportunity to perform.

Rebecca Case”

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Alice in Wonderland – Dec 2015

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Familiar characters from Lewis Carroll’s work, Alice herself, the Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit and Mad Hatter, found themselves rubbing shoulders with those from panto land, including a prince and princess, a dame and assorted minions in Hamble Players’ new pantomime.

This was an entertaining production, with some impressive costumes and scenery, a good use of lighting and a clever song selection.  Even the jokes seemed more newly minted and amusing.  However, with some technical problems, a game last minute substitute for a sick cast member and a very boisterous audience, the show perhaps flew a little more by the seat of its pants than usual.

There were some fine performances.  Tara Barton-Leigh was just right as Alice and worked particularly well with Ashleigh Ings as the dashing Prince.  Beverley Sell was slightly understated as Dame Gladys and all the better for this.  Sue Barton-Leigh made an impressive baddie.

Riotous fun.

Karen Robson

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Hoovering On The Edge – June 2015

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Seven very different people sign up for a 10 day creative writing course in Spain and writer Hilary Spiers’ witty script allows each one the opportunity to reveal something about themselves – some more openly than others.

Gregarious Honor (Andrea Swemmer) is the first , as tutor Gareth vainly attempts to engage with the group.  As the only male character, Wayne Ings predicably does not dissapoint as he struggled to explain the T.I.T writing method to his increasingly sceptical pupils. Jacqui Liddel delivered the stand out performance as garrulous Moira, with fine support from Andrea Swemmer.  Carol Ings as the not-what-she-seemed Sue and Jan Brazier as magistrate Gwen. Leanne Wilkins (Rita), Lita Buckley (Chris), and Mandy Boterhoek (Clare) also played their parts very well and director Beverley Sell’s support team again delivered a good-looking set with some fantastic backdrops.

As a comedy, it’s essentially one for the ladies, certainly not in the Calendar Girls class, but worth a look anyway!!

Alan Johns

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Hamble Players Youth Theatre “A Thirty-Minute Dream” – June 2015

Hamble Players Youth Theatre version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare, abridged by Bill Tordoff.

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REVIEW By Daily Echo: A Thirty-Minute Dream by Hamble Players Youth Theatre – June 2015

ABRIDGED by Bill Tordoff from ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’, this was a clever distillation of the essence of Shakespeare’s work, keeping plot and language, but not long speeches, making it accessible for its young cast.
At just over 30 minutes the story and pace never felt rushed, but rather well conceived and strongly directed. The young cast performed with great gusto and dealt well with the complexities of the language. The quartet of lovers – Lysander (Alfie Baxter), Hermia (Isabelle Whitcher), Demetrius (Oscar Davis) and Helena (Jasmine Naomi Mould) – played out their story line with skill and a certain flair for comedy. Georgie Ray Burton was impressive as Theseus / Oberon and well matched by Charly Armstong as a regal Titania. Charlie Baxter gave a scene-stealing turn as Bottom: his death scene was a wonder to behold.

KAREN ROBSON

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Cinderella – December 2014

Cinderella – “A Right Laugh” – Echo Review

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The Haunting of Hill House – September 2014

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Megan & The Golden Key – March 2014

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Dick Whittington – Dec 2013

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Ten Rods – September 2013

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Calendar Girls – June 2013

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Wizard of OZ – Dec 2012

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The Haunted Through Lounge and Recessed Dining Nook – Sept 2012

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Production history

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