On our opening night for Say It With Flowers we had Geoff Haywood in the audience who is a representative of NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Organisation). Geoff came backstage after the play to meet and speak to the cast and was very complimentary and has subsequently sent us his review for the NODA website and we proudly show it below.
On the Saturday night not only did we have Jane Thornton herself in the audience but we also welcomed another member of NODA, Les Smith, Councillor (Chair) for the North East Region who also expressed his appreciation of the play.
A review of SAY IT WITH FLOWERS by Jane Thornton By Geoff Haywood (NODA representative) JANUARY 2020
The audience erupted into a spontaneous and prolonged applause when the curtains opened to reveal a quite magnificent outdoor set showing a patio, well kept lawn with a pond and several garden ornaments, a garden shed on stage right, entrance to the back of the premises on stage left and a gate DSL leading to the driveway and the front of the house. There was other tasteful décor to the set. What an opening to a show. Stan, played by Rob Newton is an irascible sixty plus year old who has lost his job as a result of a speculative builder buying the village garage and putting houses on the site. He is obsessed with his garden, greenhouse and making model boats and does not pay much attention to his wife, Mavis (Dianne Turner) who in turn is more interested in being a member of the local drama group with her fellow thespians. Thus we have constant war of words between Stan and Mavis, he moaning that he gets very little help and his meals are not always ready and she, Mavis wanting her own freedom and time to express herself. These two characters were excellent throughout the production giving strong performances and keeping up the bickering and showing the pathos of a warring couple struggling to find their own true niche in life. Enter Richard (Wyn Price ) and Vera (Barbara Failey) he a Guilgudesque character and she a somewhat coarse loudmouthed but well meaning woman. Both are members of the drama group but he is constantly quoting from past shows, reliving his parts, whilst she is more down to earth and shows a heart of gold underneath her brash exterior. These two are the perfect foils to Stan and Mavis with the emphasis on supporting Mavis against the penny-pinching Stan who will not even give away any of his precious plants of which at his own admission he has too many. Again we have two players acting with consummate ease and the scene in which Richard beaks down whilst recounting his love for his now dead boyfriend held the audience spellbound . Living next door is Rio, beautifully and casually played by Wendy Fairburn. She is obviously a lover of the Goth way of dress in that she dresses in black and red with her long hair the same colours a white face with contrasting black eyebrows and blood red lipstick. Her role here is looking after the house and the constantly barking dog and coming into Stan’s beloved garden in search of her rabbit which escapes at frequent intervals. Stan makes her a rabbit hutch which she promptly sells. She is, however not all she appears to be and in spite of her spying on Stan from her upstairs bedroom window and telling tales she shows a different side to her character at the end of the play. The drama group has to disband as they are refused a new season in the Church hall even though they have raised an average of £1000.00 per year for the last ten years for the Church. So what to do? They decide to enter the “Village in Bloom” competition. Some silly dancing class has taken over their rehearsal space. With much enthusiasm, little knowledge of flowers etc the group press on often quite hilariously in preparing the garden for the competition with initially opposition from Stan but who on the end becomes as enthusiastic as the others. The garden is transformed and they eagerly await the judging of their efforts. But who is the judge? None other than the Lady Mayoress who just happens to be the wife of the builder who put Stan out of a job and whose daughter runs the dancing class which resulted in the drama group being evicted from the Church Hall! Understandably words are exchanged or should one say insults are thrown from both sides. The Mayoress (Sue Hart) plays her cameo role quite exquisitely in the manner of Dolores Umbridge, from the Harry Potter series, simpering and refusing all methods of persuasion in refusing to award them any sort of prize. The theatrical group go in search of another venue leaving Stan conspiring with Rio by making dog kennels in order that he can raise money to take Mavis to Italy to see their daughter. Janet Drewery has directed this with a great understanding of a script which poses so many differences between the characters and the result is a truly professional performance. The Props team must take a big accolade for their sterling work in providing such good ways of decorating the garden and showing much detail in their work, this together with a good lighting set and excellent sound effects added to the production
On Friday I found myself in the unusual position of being a paying member of the audience for ‘Say It With Flowers’ – probably for the first time since joining the Petuaria Players 13 years and 40 productions ago.
For me it was a play off ‘resting’ with minimal involvement other than on the graphics and publicity design so it was an opportunity to book a seat and watch a performance properly. Usually, for members who are not cast in a play, we would find ourselves carrying out tasks backstage, blind but listening to the actors and reactions from the audience.
So to sit down in the auditorium and experience the full production in all its glory, feel the reactions and ripples of laughter close up, to hear the whispered comments from nearby seats was amazing.
More rewarding was to watch my friends bring weeks of hard, stretching rehearsals to fruition. And what a performance. As usual, the coldness and dryness of rehearsals turned into warmth and laughter on stage, the ultimate reward of all that hard work, hearing the audience laugh and react, often in places or to lines that we hadn’t realised were that funny. Even though I had seen everything multiple times by now, to watch and appreciate it in the audience I was surprised how fresh it felt, despite knowing what was coming up next on every scene.
It was a superb night, a great performance by the actors, and not forgetting the unsung heroes working backstage with the numerous props and the fitting music that accompanied the play.
The last night of the run was on Saturday and had the added excitement of having Jane Thornton in the audience. Jane, of course, wrote Say it With Flowers so it was an honour to have her watch our interpretation of her play and to feedback to us at the end when she came backstage to meet the cast.
It was certainly interesting for her to be watching us because we have often watched her perform on stage, often with husband John Godber.
Jane Thornton joins the cast on the set of Say it With Flowers
Afterwards it was time for our traditional after-play drinks (and pizzas) on stage and the setting of ‘Stan and Mavis’s’ patio created a great backdrop for our late night January summer garden party.
Somehow, despite the late night festivities, we were back there at 9.30 on Sunday morning to dismantle the set and the auditorium. Now we can relax – for a week – before rehearsals start again for the next one…..
Watch out for our upcoming posts with news about the next play and the photo gallery of this production. Why not subscribe and never miss a post? Simply add your email on the front page where you see this widget –
In this, our first post of the decade, we wish you all a Happy New Year and we hope you have made a resolution to come and see our 2020 performances. Talking of which, our first play of the year is due at the end of this month – so soon!
As I write this I see the countdown widget is showing just 24 days to first night.…
So if you have been distracted by all those seasonal festivities and have not reserved your seats for our next play then it is time to do so. And what is the next play? It’s Say It With Flowers by Jane Thornton.
SAY IT WITH FLOWERS by Jane Thornton
This is a lovely comedy from Jane Thornton that was first performed at Hull Truck in 2009 with John Godber directing and now we are pleased to bring some of that horticultural humour to Brough.
Fresh off the back of their latest amateur dramatics production, the Parish Players learn that circumstances beyond their control are forcing them to abandon the Parish Hall. Without anywhere to stage their plays, they decide to pull on their gardening gloves and enter the regional ‘Village in Bloom’ competition in order to express their artistic flair. But not everyone is keen on the idea, and the seeds are quickly sown for an hilarious yet touching exploration of a village’s competitive streak, when opposing forces collide and relationships suddenly sit on opposite sides of the fence in a world where not everything is coming up roses.
Produced & Directed by Janet Drewery
CAST Dianne Turner as Mavis Rob Newton as Stan Barbara Failey as Vera Wyn Price as Richard Wendy Fairburn as Rio Sue Hart as Vicky