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Grantham theatre company play is a great success




You missed a real treat if you did not manage catch the latest St Peter's Hill Players production.

Performed for three nights at the Guildhall theatre, the Players put on 'A Bunch of Amateurs', a comedy written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman and made famous by the film version starring Burt Reynolds.

With his long black 'rug' firmly glued in place, Players stalwart Tony Hine was at first glance unrecognisable to this reviewer, playing washed up American actor Jefferson Steele.

King Lear back stage scene from St Peter's Hill Players' stage rehearsal night.(20830090)
King Lear back stage scene from St Peter's Hill Players' stage rehearsal night.(20830090)

Steele's incompetent agent has booked him to play King Lear at Stratford – only for Jefferson to arrive and find out it was Stratford St John, in Suffolk – and not Stratford-upon-Avon.

The amateur theatrical company Steele gets landed with greet their new cast member with general enthusiasm, especially by the starstruck and lovestruck Mary Plunkett (Verity Connor), less so by the wonderfully theatrical Nigel Denbury (Gus Sparrow) who is aching to play the Shakespeare lead role himself.

Steele is not so impressed with the situation he finds himself in and threatens to walk out several times.

Dress rehearsal, from lef - Gus Sparrow, Ellie Johnson and Verity Connor. (20830914)
Dress rehearsal, from lef - Gus Sparrow, Ellie Johnson and Verity Connor. (20830914)

It soon becomes apparent to the village actors, led by their forceful director Dorothy Nettle (Ellie Johnson), that Steele couldn't act his way out of a paper bag, although loyal sycophant Dennis Dobbins (Gary Wallader) remains stoically loyal as Jefferson's one-man entourage.

Briony Sparrow added great colour as Lauren Bell, wife of brewery owner Colin Bell who was sponsoring the production of King Lear, although Colin remained completely elusive throughout despite many a mention, putting me in mind of Waiting for Godot.

Steele has little time for manners or for his aspiring actor daughter, played by Haneul Kwon who stole the show as Jessica Steele.

Eventually, reconciled with Jessica, Jefferson humbles himself to play King Lear and pulls out a performance of which even he did not know he was capable.

Hayden Raado and Hayley Taylor played journalists, as well as being backstage hands.

A Bunch of Amateurs was directed by Lesley Sparrow and Jim Snee, whilst stage manager Lucy Kelley stood in at short notice as Lauren Bell on the Saturday after Briony was taken ill.

Costumes were by Briony Sparrow and Rosemary Gibson (Lear), hair and make-up by Shona Russell, prompt was Dawn Cadwallader and props were taken care of by Lynette Richardson.

St Peter's Hill Players' next production is entitled 'Wife After Death', written by Grantham's Eric Chappell, and will be performed from April 30 till May 2, 2020.

+ If you would like to get involved with the Players, email sphpgrantham@gmail.com or find them on Facebook.


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