Newbury Dramatic Society
Maskerade, 17th to 20th May
By Terry Pratchett. In the Ankh Morpork Opera House, a strangely familiar evil mastermind in a mask and evening dress is lurking in the shadows. He lures innocent young sopranos to their destiny, commits occasional murder, and sends little notes full of maniacal laughter and exclamation marks. Opera can do that to a man. But Granny Weatherwax, the Discworld’s most famous witch, is in the audience and she doesn’t hold with that sort of thing... and the show must go on!
Stanley, 6th July, 19:30 at the
Croft Hall, Hungerford
Newbury Dramatic Society presents a dramatised reading based on the play by Pam Gems, which explores the complicated life and loves of the twentieth-century British painter Stanley Spencer, with special reference to the iconic murals in Sandham Memorial Chapel depicting the artist’s experiences as a medical orderly during World War One. Spencer’s unconventional but profound religious beliefs inspired visionary paintings of biblical scenes taking place in contemporary settings, notably those of his beloved Cookham. He left his first wife Hilda for a disastrous second marriage, though Hilda remained the love of his life. Part of HADCAF.
The Watermill, Newbury.
01635 46044. www.watermill.org.uk.
Reviews of Just So Kipling
13th to 15th July 2016.
Review from Newbury Theatre.
Newbury Dramatic Society continue their tradition of taking an informative show about an historical character (last year, Dickens) to villages in aid of local charities with this year’s production of Just So Kipling, in Hungerford, Kingsclere and Lambourn supporting HADCAF, Kingsclere Library and Riding for the Disabled.
On a simple set, strewn with clothing changes and other props, the cast of five covered the whole of Kipling’s life in an hour, with narrative and extracts from his poems and books (and refreshments to follow!).
Devised and directed by Ann Davidson, it started with The Glory of the Garden, moving from his childhood in Bombay to Lahore at 16 after schooling in England. He travelled to America and South Africa, ending up in England in 1896. Although highly regarded as a writer and poet (he was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature), he was a product of the Victorian age and his dedication to Empire was controversial – Orwell described him as a ‘jingo imperialist’.
All five actors took on many roles but the main part of Kipling was played by Trevor Pitman with authority and gravitas, allowing a little levity on the road to Mandalay. Ruth Wheeler played his wife Carrie with dignity but, like his son (Robert Miles), subservient to Kipling’s personality.
Ceri Lawrence, Andrew Smith and Robert Miles played a variety of humans and animals, all well differentiated and convincingly performed.
The production was excellently choreographed and made good use of the stage. When the actors weren’t performing they stood at the sides with their backs to us and unobtrusively changed their costumes.
Some of the text was read from scripts; I didn’t find this distracting but on occasion it caused a break in the pace when there were scene changes. The sound was good – appropriate and not overpowering – but the lighting sometimes left some of the cast in darkness.
I was hugely impressed with this production. Ann Davidson has come up with a piece that is absorbing, instructive and entertaining, finely performed by five very good actors. Ann told me that she’s thinking of Larkin About for next year’s production. Don’t miss it.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Newbury Dramatic Society's vivid picture of the man, his life and his work
Newbury Dramatic Society: Just So Kipling, at Croft Hall, Hungerford, on Wednesday, July 13
From the famous lines written above the entryway to Wimbledon's Centre Court to The Glory of the Garden, Margaret Thatcher's favourite poem, to his stories for children, Rudyard Kipling's works promote in the reader a sense of patriotism, compassion, joy or simply fun.
Born in Bombay, he loved India and was miserable when, aged five, he was sent home to England.
Later, after much travelling, he learned to love this colder land and his last years were spent in Sussex.
Kipling was a good choice for this vignette by Newbury Dramatic Society, followed by tiffin and drinks – a nice touch to round off the evening.
The back of the stage contained everything needed for the five characters to change roles; this worked well and there was no hesitation as the play continued. The Glory of the Garden began the evening, read in turn by the actors in attractively rustic costumes, and it wasn't long before we were treated to a jolly rendition of The Road to Mandalay from Trevor Pitman as Kipling.
It was Trevor, too, who read I Will Remember What I Was, one of the evening's most memorable poems – not, as so many of Kipling's poignant poems are, concerned with war, but with an elephant looking back.
Kipling's son John was killed in 1915 and he never forgave himself for having encouraged the boy to join up.
Robert Miles was entirely believable as the young vulnerable John, dressed ready to go to the Battle of Loos, which ended his life.
However, Kipling continued to write. Andrew Smith gave a superb reading of The Absent-Minded Beggar, that heartrending poem that raised money for soldiers in the Boer War.
Ruth Wheeler played sweet Carrie, Kipling's wife, and Ceri Lawrence was an energetically entertaining Mowgli in the fun excerpt from The Jungle Book, thought to have been written for Kipling's daughter, who died aged only six. All the actors seamlessly took on other roles as needed.
Director Ann Davidson devised the play and her cast did a good job in bringing to their audience a vivid picture of the man, his work and his life, which ended in 1935. A very enjoyable evening.
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.
Just So Kipling, 13th to 15th July 2016
The Interview, 21st to 23rd April 2016. See the review in the archive.
A Tale of Two Cities, 27th to 30th May 2015
Revolution and Revelations, 20th to 22nd November 2014. See the review in the archive.
The Local Heroes of 1914-18, 13th July 2014. See the review in the archive.
Tess of The D’Urbervilles, 3rd to 6th April 2013
Entertaining Angels, 8th to 10th November 2012 at ACE Space
The Taming of the Shrew, 2011 at New Greenham Arts
The Dog It Was That Died, 2011 at the Watermill
Curtain Up, 2010 at New Greenham Arts
Confusions, 2010 at the Watermill
Outside Edge, 2009 at New Greenham Arts
Ladies' Day, 2009 at New Greenham Arts
The Recruiting Officer, 2008 at the Watermill
Ladies Who Lunch, 2008 at New Greenham Arts
Far From the Madding Crowd, 2007 at the Watermill
A Fishy Business, 2007, Festivals
Abigail's Party, 2006 at the Watermill
What's for Pudding, 2006, Festivals
Racing Demon, 2005 at the Watermill
Babysitting Calvin and A Radio Reminiscence, 2005 at Waterside, Newbury
Whose Life is it Anyway?, 2004 at the Watermill
2004 Review, 2004, on tour
An Ideal Husband, 2003 at the Watermill
Arms and the Man, 2003 at New Greenham Arts
Taking Steps, 2002 at the Watermill
Sganarelle and People ARE Odd! A joint revue and radio play with Kingsclere Players, 2002 at the Mencap Centre
Sganarelle, 2002, Festivals
The Crucible, 2001, Thatcham and The Watermill
World Première, 2001, Festivals
Love Begins At Fifty, 2000 at New Greenham Arts
Is It Something I Said?, 2000, Festivals
It Could be Any One of Us, 2000 at the Watermill
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1999 at Kintbury
Habeas Corpus, 1998, at the Watermill
Parentcraft, 1997, Wallingford Festival
Move Over Mrs Markham, 1997 at the Watermill
Caught On The Hop, (Festival Winner) 1996, Wallingford Festival
Flying Feathers, 1996 at the Watermill
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 .