Peterborough Playgoers Society

Amateur Dramatic Society
Quality Drama Since 1935
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23/05/18
With permission of the Peterborough Telegraph
Life and Beth
Spirited away by the Playgoers
It was only the ghost of an idea. But while watching this excellent production of Life and Beth I found myself wondering if Alan Ayckbourn had revisited A Christmas Carol before writing this play. Or even if he intended this Christmas comedy to be a slyly updated commentary on the Dickens classic.
Not that there's an Ebenezer Scrooge in the play, nor are there four intrusive ghosts.
Instead there's Beth, the harassed female lead of the title who's recently lost her husband Gordon. And it's Gordon who reappears as the ghost.
But far from being a spiritual mentor in the Dickens tradition this ghost is a health and safety officer, just as he was in
life. The kind of boring jobsworth everyone flees from as soon as he starts spouting rules and regulations.
Needless to say, because of the safety features in Gordon's home, the Christmas Iights won't come on, the kitchen appliances don't work, and the fuses are continually tripping.
In their climactic scene in Act Two Beth and Gordon face up to their irreconcilable differences.
But whereas Gordon, effectively played by David Edwards, insists that Beth can't manage withou this interference from beyond the.grave, Beth knows better.
In a sympathetic and true-to-life performance by
Jennie Dighton, she emerges as a realist who recognises that her married life ended when Gordon died and that new experiences await her.
It soon emerges however that health and safety isn't the only one of Ayckbourn's pet dislikes. His clergyman, idiomatically played by Steve Cutts, brings little to the situation but a succession of cliches and an overriding interest in his female
parishioners.
Martin. Beth's son, is slightly more sympathetic and makes an effort to care of his mother.
Nevertheless in Nigel McKinley's ebullient performance he comes across as insensitive and unable
to grasp the true state of affairs.
As Connie, Beth's sister-in-law, Veronica White begins by gazing fondly at a photograph of the dead man and recalling his good
points.
After a comparative ly short time however it emerges that she has had to make all kinds of sacrifices for him throughout her life
and that she really couldn't stand him.
In their different ways all these characters annoy Beth, refuse to give her space, and try to prevent her moving on.
From the number of times she mentions him you guess that it's her cat Wagstaff who means more to her than any of them.
And this is confirmed by the last word in the play and in this review.
Miaow!

Joe Conway
09/12/15
With permission of the Peterborough Telegraph
The Spirits of Christmas

Whoever said that the Christmas spirit or the desire for cultural entertainment had bypassed Peterborough was verv wrong, indeed.
The Spirits of Christmas, the festive show presented by Peterborough Playgoers Society at the John Clare Theatre last week, was widely applauded by large, enthusiastic audiences despite plenty of competion from Bill Kenwright's shows just a few doors away.
"This brilliantly talented group never fail to entertain, not only on stage but also in the way the theatre is decorated and the warm welcome offered." declared one unsolicited review on,this long standing amdram group's website.
A skilful l4-strong cast presented a mixture of traditional and original entertainment as the old miser himself Ebenezer Scrooge, beautifully played by newcomer Nigel McKinley, was taken on a journey through time to see how Christmas has been celebrated throughout the ages from medieval to Tudor times and thence to Victorian family celebrations and on to a most moving scene recreating the famous 1914 seasonal truce in the trenches of World War one.
At the heart of this most amusing production, devised and directed by Steve Cutts and Pam Tedcastle, were
many comic moments; interpretations of Gilbert and Sullivan including a well-padded Cock Robin and three streetwise young maids from school, 'l saw mummy kissing Santa Claus' with Steve in pink gingham dress and plaits...and a frantic melodrama set in a lighthouse.
Traditionalists were awarded their Advent pathos in a very powerful and emotional ending as a repentant Scrooge knelt by the manger in Bethlehem and "Joy came to the World".
A colourfully costumed mixture of magic and mirth, well sung by the company and excellently accompanied by the keyboards of Marjorie Richardson and Paul Taylor, ensured that this annual treat served up by the 80 year old society will run and run,

By Stella Tempest
11/12/13
With permission of the Peterborough Telegraph
Just hear those sleighbells jingling

If your spirits have been dampened by shopping overload, rest assured that they will be lifted as soon as you enter the foyer of the John Clare Theatre this week.
For it is here that Feterborough Playgoers Society are presenting 'A Christmas Cornucopia.'
'A Chr.istmas what?' we ask as do the members of the talented cast of nine at the start of this joytul show.
In response, we are treated to a thoroughly entertaining potpourri of seasonal delights: songs, poems; monologues and sketches full of wit, wisdom and merriment.
You won't hear better four part harmonies and yuletide ditties this side of Bethlehem than appreciative audiences have been given this week as gifts of melody and mirth by Playgoers' stalwarts, ably led by director Veronica White.
Twinkling highlights include a parody of' 'Pride and Prejudice' entitled' Pride and Prunejuice' guaranteed to make Miss Austen shout for the mulled smelling salts.
Played behind an inspired
array of regency cut-outs, Steve Cutts excels as both Mr Collins and Mrs Bennett, whilst a sketch featuring a master of comic timing, Bob Knighton, as a pub bore gives us a darkly amusing insight into the fate of Good King Wenceslas.
Apart from wishing that the stage decor was as stunning as the extravagance of the foyer and that there were more of the terrific songsrand less readings. 'A Christmas Cornucopia' maintains Playgoers' reputation for quality performances giving us a glorious glimpse of the festivities to come.
'A Christmas Cornucopia' continues at the John Clare Theatre, Broadway, nightly at 7.3opm and on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets priced at €9 are available from the Information Centre in Bridge Street or on the door.

By Alexandra Young
news@jpress.co.uk