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Relative Values

Wycliffe Drama Group presents

Noel Coward’s Relative Values

31/03/2017


You could expect a play written 66 years ago to have dated. Such is the wit and sparkle of Noel Coward’s dialogue that “Relative Values” still delights. Especially as staged by the Wycliffe Drama Group who rarely put a foot wrong with their productions. This light comedy may be about snobbish aristocrats and servants who know their place and want to stay in it, but Coward’s clever and funny lines, and the acting of this experienced group, caused gales of laughter in Lutterworth College .


The story tells of the dim Earl of Marshwood, (Russell Grant), who wants to marry a glamorous Hollywood film star Miranda Frayle, (Nic Campbell). This horrifies just about everyone, especially his mother Felicity, Countess of Marshwood, (Jane Clark) but also her butler and staff. Keith Parkin was born to play Crestwell the Butler and his performance was a tour de force. Even more upset about the forthcoming nuptials are Don Lucas, (Scott Cooper) Miranda’s fellow film star, and her long lost and unacknowledged sister, Moxie (Jo Cooper). Moxie just happens to be Lady Marshwood’s ladies maid and, obviously, cannot stay with Felicity and work for her own sister. Naturally! The fun begins as Felicity plots to get rid of Miranda to save her son from an unsuitable marriage and,(more importantly), keep Moxie All the cast supported well, even down to Liz White as the starstruck little housemaid, Alice, flummoxed by everything Crestwell says.


It was a long play at 160 minutes but there were no complaints from the satisfied and smiling audience.


Vivien Window

Aladdin 2017

posted 13 Feb 2017, 10:08 by Alison Woodward

Aladdin
A Traditional family panto by Richard Hill.   21/01/2017

Lutterworth is so lucky to host a really traditional pantomime each year. Their own award winning Wycliffe Drama Group always give so much pleasure and this year was no exception. “Aladdin” was totally traditional. It had catchy songs, colourful costumes, dozens of local references from all the usual characters  and 8 delightful young dancers from the Warrington School of Dance
.
Widow Twankey erupted on stage in a rickshaw accident. Luckily, trooper Dickie Wood was OK and picked himself up , throwing more awful corny jokes at us than an explosion in a cracker factory. Aladdin and the energetic Wishee Washee (Nathaniel Cooper and Charles Dennis) were her tall and goodlooking sons, (they even looked like brothers). Princess Jasmine (Lois Anna Hunt) was a beautiful heroine, and the three comic policemen brought lots of slapstick into the mix. Simon Maher, Morgan Smith and Keith Parkin were constantly falling over and getting covered in soapsuds, to the delight of the kids in the audience-and most of the adults too, if truth be told.

Traditionally this panto has to have a burglar, outrunning the police, a ghost, two genies (one small and very camp, one imposingly hovering in midair), Daisy the cow (less traditional perhaps!), a glittering cave scene with the jewels of lissome dancers and, most importantly---a very wicked Uncle Abanazar. Entering stage left in a green light to boos and hisses came the wonderful Russ Crooks. A villain, par excellence. He eventually got his comeuppance. The audience decided he was to be made good. (Although there was a few wanted him made into a Liverpool supporter!)

Congratulations to all the large cast, the band and supporters. Also to Richard Hill, writer and director. In fact to all the WDG. Long may you reign and bring us pantomimes.

See How They Run

posted 16 Oct 2016, 02:31 by Alison Woodward

Wycliffe Drama Group
Present
“See How They Run”
By Philip King
8/10/2016
A good farce requires enormous energy for the hectic pace, spot-on timing and exaggerated characterisations. It is not easy for amateurs to achieve all this, but when they do, a farce can be a delight. “See How They Run”, by Philip King, as performed by Wycliffe Drama Group was such a farce and arguably one of the best productions I have seen from this group.
I don’t know how the actors felt at the end, but I was worn out watching, as well as helpless with laughter! The story, written in 1940s  wartime England, involved mistaken identities, changing clothes, a drunken “spinster of the parish” (Jackie Matthew as the terrifying Miss Skillon!) and at least 5 men dressed as vicars chasing each other and leaping around the stage. The cast never faltered for a second. Their timing was immaculate.
Ida, the maid, played by the very comic Lauren Crooks, and Penelope, Becky Harwood, enjoying a comedy role for a change, tried hard to keep them all in order and all the 6 men were splendid in their roles. Russ Crooks was the carpet –chewing Clive, the dashing (all over the stage) Andrew Spencer was Rev Toop and Dickie  Wood was the confused and lovable Bishop of Lax. Julian Mitchell never lost his menace, or his accent. Scott Cooper was the diffident Humphrey and Jacob Smith tried to sort out the muddle of vicars at the end. 
The rehearsals for this play must have been very long and intensive, but, I’ll bet, enormous fun! We had a brilliant evening. Thanks WDG
You are a credit to Lutterworth

Gaslight

posted 3 Sep 2016, 06:43 by Alison Woodward

Wycliffe Drama Group
Present
“Gaslight”
By Patrick Hamilton
23/04/2016

“Gaslight”, a Victorian thriller, has never lost its power to grip audiences. It is set in a claustrophic late Victorian sitting room, over-decorated, gloomy and gas lit. The Wycliffe Drama Group had to move from Lutterworth College to the smaller Wycliffe Rooms for this play so staging had to be minimal, but they still succeeded admirably.

The play tells the story of a young wife, Bella Manningham, who is terrified that she is going mad, as items go missing and the gaslight dims and flickers. Jack, her husband, appears charming and distressed about his wife, but is he all that he seems?

The actors were excellent. I have rarely seen a more terrified Bella. Melanie Lee utterly captured the essence of a wife who is being mentally abused. Russell Grant, as Jack, let us see the cruelty beneath his affable manner. Keith Parkin , as Inspector Rough, had the difficult task of making us believe a stranger could  come into a house and gain the trust of a very disturbed and frightened woman, and free the brave person inside her. Keith succeeded, his avuncular Rough had gravitas and honesty. The housekeeper, Elizabeth, (Mary McDermott), conveyed in few words her loyalty to Bella and fear of her employer. Nic Campbell was Nancy, the sexy maid, who was “a nasty bit of work” eager to take Bella’s place.

This was entertainment at its best, WDG never let us down!

Snow White

posted 3 Sep 2016, 06:42 by Alison Woodward



Wycliffe Drama Group presents
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
22/01/2016
Wycliffe Drama Group’s annual panto was, as we all expected, packed with terrible old corny jokes and happy songs to sing along with. It had an all-singing, all-dancing chorus of 18, of all ages, from the four cute tiny rabbits, (aaah), to the mature members. It had the prettiest Snow White I’ve seen in years (Lois Hunt), and she sure could put a song across. We were expecting “Someday my prince will come” and got the rocking “You’re the one that I want”, from “Grease”, with her Prince (Jenny Simpson). Dickie Wood was Sarah, the Dame with the most jokes ever, and her son Jack was the lively and funny Andrew Spencer. Their wallpapering slapstick scene had the small children behind me screaming in delight! The evil Queen (Lauren Crooks) cackled for England and Richard Holyoak was her delightfully dotty King. There was even a lovely dancing cow, Daisy.

However, the stars of the show were definitely the Seven Not So Tiny Dwarfs. Each was a real individual. They had the best songs and the daftest routines (getting changed for bed was hilarious). Dopey (Morgan Smith) stood out, as he has to, and his mirror routine with the Queen was very clever. Oh, and why were they not dwarfs? (Apart from the fact that Equity couldn’t supply them, of course). They did some baking and all got covered in (wait for it) …..”Elf Raising Flour”.

WDG gave us a really fun evening, congratulations to all, especially to Producer Dawn Crooks and Director Richard Hill.

Murdered To Death

posted 3 Sep 2016, 06:27 by Alison Woodward   [ updated 3 Sep 2016, 06:41 ]

Presents
“Murdered to Death”
A Comedy Thriller by Peter Gordon
09/10/2015
When the WDG was deciding on their autumn production it was a toss up between a comedy or a thriller. So they decided to combine the two and produced “Murdered to Death”. Definitely far more comedy than thriller, this undeniably silly, but very funny, spoof raised gales of laughter from the Lutterworth audience. As bodies keeled over, so did the audience, doubled up with laughter! I am not at all sure any of us will ever be able to watch an Agatha Christie Miss Marple play again with a straight face. (Our “Miss Maple” –played by Hazel Maher- denounced the killers and confidently expected them to break down and confess. “They always do” she announced. Only they didn’t! A great moment, and a cliché exploded!)
The expert WDG actors handled the complicated plot, lines and slapstick with confidence. Dickie Bird was especially funny as the bumbling Inspector Pratt. His lines, every one so back to front they were like nonsense, must have been murder (sorry!) to learn, and he took some wonderful pratfalls (Sorry again!). Richard Holyoak was Bunting, the ancient, drunken Butler. Or was he? And the Frenchman Pierre, (Russ Crooks) and posh lady, Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington, (Becky Harwood), were also not what they seemed. Surprises abounded!
Director Richard Hill was well served by all his cast, which included Jane Clark and Mel Lee, soon to be murder victims. Duncan Sanderson and Mary McDermott as the Craddocks and Andrew Spencer as the sensible, and much wounded, Constable Thompkins.

Thank you WDG. You always bring us great entertainment.

Ali Baba Review

posted 30 Jan 2015, 02:22 by Alison Woodward

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Wycliffe Drama Group

24/01/2015

Wycliffe Drama Group’s annual pantomime was an unusual choice, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. It isn’t often produced, maybe because it does verge on the grisly since someone gets chopped into four pieces? Being panto, he is then sewn up by designer tailor Fab Ric (Get it? Fabric? Oh suit yourselves). He’s is raised to life like Frankenstein, and on into a song from “The Rocky Horror Show”. Pantomime covers many genres, this one also had four Dames singing a song from “South Pacific”. I’ll let you guess which one!

However in the sure hands of the WDG, “Ali Baba” remained a traditional pantomime. The opening scene, involving pyrotechnics and Helen Warrington’s dancers in gorgeous costumes, was stunning. There were all the usual characters. Dickie Wood played his ever popular Dame, Mum Baba. Ali Baba (Beth Cunningham) was engaged to pretty slave Safiya (Tabatha Gregg), and had to steal money from the chief robber, Sheikh Mustafa Leikh (Richard Hill), in order to buy her. This hissable Baddie had a gang of 40 thieves, give or take a few as he killed them off, led by his henchmen, the wonderful Russ Crooks and Imi Hornsby, creating mayhem. Add into the mix Ali’s brother Cassim (Julian Mitchell), sometimes “resting in pieces”, and sister in law, the formidable Sharon (Lauren Crooks), a charming camel, Kamil, and a huge chorus (I lost count), all led by Scherezade (Lucy Rowe), telling us the story…..well you certainly got your “moneys worth”! The pyrotechnics were worth the ticket price alone.

Another triumphal pantomime from the WDG and enormous fun for Lutterworth audiences.

Vivien Window

Oh What A Lovely War by Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop

posted 9 Nov 2014, 07:53 by Alison Woodward

Wycliffe Drama Group
Presents
“Oh What a Lovely War!”
4/10/14
In Britain, in the 1960s, having just come through World War 2, people rarely spoke of the previous one “The war to end all wars” (only it wasn’t, of course). It seemed forgotten. Even the famous Christmas Truce, when soldiers on both sides played football in No Mans Land, had almost become a myth. Then in 1963 Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop produced what could be described as a musical drama or a documentary musical telling the story of WW1 through a concert party playing the War Game. It used poignant bitter satire, and was both heartbreakingly sad and very, very funny. The songs and jokes were original ones of the time, the soldiers themselves had invented them.
“Oh What a Lovely War!” is not an easy show to produce, requiring, as it does , a large cast of multi talented performers who can sing, act, dance and even play leapfrog! However The Wycliffe Drama Group is never daunted, and Director Richard Hill did not even audition the 26 performers who wanted to be in this production. Everyone was used and with a backstage crew in charge of the special effects, the whole company enthusiastically worked together to present an excellent show, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
It took the audience on a roller coaster ride. Lots of laughter, of course, at the soldiers’ brave black humour but many tears too. The ending, as the poppies fell and the cast sang “We’ll Never Tell Them”, was mesmerising and moving.
An unforgettable evening. Thank you WDG, you never disappoint.

Vivien Window

Joan Littlewood’s ‘Oh What a lovely War’ is ‘documentary musical’ made up of songs and sketches from the First World War, which contrast the terrible conditions in the trenches with the jingoism at home, frightening class divide of the time and callous attitude of Military commanders to the appalling loss of life. Wycliffe Drama Group have been lucky to be one of the few amateur groups to be allowed to perform this highly appropriate piece on the hundredth anniversary of the start of WW1.
Richard Hill has gathered a talented cast who work well together to make this a highly enjoyable and moving production. There are many strong acting performances, particularly from the soldiers in the trenches who combine humour with the grim reality of warfare.
There are well-known songs including ‘Pack up your troubles’ ‘Roses of Piccardy’ and ‘Goodbye.. ee’ and many soldiers songs from the trenches, such as ‘When this lousy war is over’ which make the audience laugh and cry in equal measure. The cast portray the humour of the early scenes well and the pathos is all the greater as they are careful not to overplay the tragedy of the later scenes and songs. The songs are well accompanied by piano & drums
The simple set is very effective, with screens which display shocking headlines and statistics of casualties from the time and a sandbagged area which forms a trench and brings scenes of war up close to the audience. These are used to good effect especially in the touching scene where opposing armies celebrate Christmas Day together.
This is an excellent, thought provoking production with great songs and much humour  where you will be shocked by the slaughter of the time.

Kate West

Jekyll & Hyde by Leonard H Caddy

posted 1 May 2013, 15:23 by Unknown user   [ updated 1 May 2013, 15:23 ]

Wycliffe Drama Group is never afraid to tackle the unusual, even a Victorian thriller by R.L.Stevenson, rarely seen on stage. There have been dozens of films made of “Dr Jekyll and Hyde”, though, and the story of the scientist doctor who experiments on himself and releases an evil alter- ego, Mr Hyde, is a well known one. It was a daunting project, especially for a first time director. Congratulations to Becky Harwood who used subdued lighting and appropriate music to add to the creepy atmosphere.

WDG’s actors did her proud. Russ Crookes transformed the good Doctor Jekyll into the epitome of the evil monster, with nothing to help except false teeth---and excellent acting. A stunning performance, quite terrifying!

The doctor’s friends were the experienced Richard Holyoak and Dickie Wood, (sympathetic in a rare straight role. He should do more!) Andrew Spencer was Poole, the dignified Butler, struggling with his employer’s changes, and Hazel Maher was the parlourmaid, Hilda.

The biggest surprise in the cast were four brand new members of WDG, all still in school. Tabatha Gregg is only 14 but as Charlotte, the new maid, who befriends the doctor and is eventually murdered by Mr Hyde, showed a fine range of acting, sometimes a child and other times a young woman. Imi Hornsby played the prostitute with sensitivity and Beth Cunningham was the doctor’s fiancée, Celestine, a mature and understated role These young girls are a real find! Even 11 year old Beckie Embley’s silent but significant cameo added greatly to the tension. (It isn’t easy to play a dead body!)

A play well worth seeing, (sitting on the edge of your seat!)

 Vivien Window

Cash on Delivery by Michael Cooney

posted 29 Apr 2012, 07:51 by Unknown user

The latest production by Lutterworth’s Wycliffe Drama Group was “Cash on Delivery” by Michael Cooney (son of “farce-master” Ray). It certainly delivered buckets full of laughs, the audience was almost begging for mercy from aching sides and spinning heads as the mayhem progressed. Eric Swann (the brilliant Russ Crooks) has been defrauding the DSS of thousands of pounds aided by his Uncle George (Keith Parkin), but unbeknown to his wife Linda (Kate Gamble). So when lodger Norman Bassett (Paul Jackson) opens the door to mild mannered DSS Inspector Mr Jenkins (Richard Holyoak), all hell breaks loose.

 

Inventive Eric involves Norman, and they pile lies on lies. The stage is soon swirling with characters, both real and invented, including a badly behaved washing machine! We meet the bereavement councillor (Becky Harwood), marriage guidance councillor (Mary McDermott), Norman’s fiancée (Vicky Stirling), the terrifying Ms Cowper (Amanda Holyoak) and lugubrious undertaker Mr Forbright (Andrew Spencer), here to deal with the bodies. I’m not sure whose, though, but Keith Parkin running around strapped to a trolley, in moments of comic genius, may have been one.

 

The spot on timing of the whole cast, and clever physical comedy, especially from Russ, Paul and Keith, made this superb farce an absolute joy to behold. To quote more exalted critics than me “I snorted like a demented whale”, “a classic of the genre” and “Laugh?....I’m off to lie down in a darkened room”.

 

Congratulations Stuart Cross, (director), and all at WDG- you’ve done it again, pulled off a very difficult play with panache.

 

Vivien Window

Camelot, The Panto by Graham Smith

posted 3 Feb 2012, 05:09 by Richard Holyoak

Camelot… The Panto
Wycliffe Drama Group
28/01/12
 
Wycliffe Drama Group’s latest pantomime is probably one of the most original and funny I’ve ever seen. I thought “Camelot…The Panto” would be just cashing in on the TV series “Merlin”, and my expectations were not high. I should have known better! Director Graham Smith wrote “Camelot”, only his second pantomime. His first, (Robin Hood), drew great acclaim, but this surpassed it, with 27 very distinctive characters, 6 dancers, a very witty script and unusual ideas. One of which was to have no traditional sets. Among the “film credits”, scrolling onto the end curtain, was “Sets …Sulking in a corner”! We never missed them. Instead they used effects such as shadows on a curtain, stage smoke that filled the auditorium like fog (causing much hilarity), and film. We loved the “X-Calibur” TV show.
 
Favourites were Russ Crooks as the delightful baddie, Black Wurst, and Gemma Hill as his hippy new age accomplice, Morgan le Fay. Merlin was a bearded Keith Parkin appearing through a storm like King Lear. Arthur was thigh slapping principal boy Becky Harwood and “Dame” Dickie Wood was “his” Mum. With such a huge cast aged from 7 to 70, all acting their socks off and having a brilliant time, how could the audience not love it? We did! The audience were the noisiest I’ve been among, I swear our seats rattled during the singalong!
 
Thank you Graham, Dawn Crooks (producer) and all at WDG. This was a panto to remember - and my sides still ache.
 
Vivien Window

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