Posted June 29th, 2017

A reminder to all Friends of the first night Bar Receptions until mid-September 2017.

Remember, as a Friend, you qualify for a 25% discount on tickets for these nights and the receptions offer a great opportunity to meet the cast in the informal setting of the bar – and perhaps have your photo taken with one of your favourite actors!

Click on any of the images below for more information about the production on the Eastbourne Theatres’ website. 

Dates below are for the
Bar Receptions

Body Double

Tuesday 1 August


Wait until Dark

Tuesday 29 August

Original Theatre Company

starring
Jack Ellis & Oliver Mellor

We are sorry, but these Receptions are only open to members of the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre.  Please see the Membership page of this website for details of how to join.

Posted June 13th, 2017

There must be a reason why Trespass has not been staged for seventy years, despite it being a play from the pen of outstanding playwright, Emlyn Williams – who has such works as Night Must Fall and The Grass is Green to his name.  Perhaps the audience at the DPT on the first night of this Talking Scarlet production found out why!

This ghost story, written in 1947 – a post-war period when the country was coming to terms with bereavement on an enormous scale – deals with the shady area between life and death when minor aristocrat, Christine (played by our lovely Michelle Morris) is struggling to come to terms with the death of her second husband and is seeking a way of communicating with him.  Into her life walks – or rather arrives by boat for the ancestral home is on a remote island (remind you of a Christie story?) – a pair of charlatans posing as mediums – or is one of them for real?  With some tremendous acting performances and excellent mood changing lighting and music (what more would one expect from a play directed by Patric Kearns) it is good – if at times somewhat slow – entertainment.

Back: Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas, Ian Crowe, Jason Marc-Williams
Front: David Callister, Michelle Morris, Katy Dean, Judy Buxton

It was with mixed feelings that the Friends waited in the theatre bar to welcome the cast after this first night performance but with so many old friends among the cast any uneasiness was quickly dispelled and the conversation flowed.  It was so lovely to see them all back again at the DPT and we are always so grateful for the time that they give to us.  We look forward to welcoming many of them back later in the year.

“On the edge of our seats” doesn’t adequately describe the roller-coaster of thrills and plot twists in Kiss of Death, by Simon Williams – a writer with a remarkable list of credits from Spooks, Sense & Sensibility and Dr Who!

Another gripping drama brought to the DPT stage by Talking Scarlet with their Artistic Director, Patric Kearns at the helm.  The four strong cast, including father and daughter David and Ciara Janson, aided by outstanding technical support from the backstage crew, gave powerful performances for this quietly sinister play.

Back row: Davies Palmer, David Janson & Peter Lovstrom with Ciara Janson in front centre.

It is always such a treat to welcome Patric and his Talking Scarlet company to the bar following their first night.

It is always with eager anticipation that a DPT audience awaits the start of a production from Creative Cow – for they always live up to their name.  This time is was with a clever adaptation by our Patron, the multi-talented Clive Francis, of the Graham Greene novel Our Man in Havana.  Again, it was a good sized audience that awaited the start of the play on its opening night and they were not to be disappointed as the cast of four took on the twenty-something roles plus narrator in this amusing and often tense drama.  Confusing?  Not at all – and certainly no repeat of last year’s production of Travels with my Aunt.

This time, the clever use of narration brought the audience – if there was any doubt – back into line and the actors have to be hugely commended on their performances.  At this stage, perhaps an apology to the cast might be in order.  On an unseasonably hot evening, the efficient new heating system in the theatre was working at its best – replicating the near-tropical climatic conditions of Cuba lending a certain unwelcome authenticity to the proceedings.  Particularly affected was poor Charles Davies (last seen at the DPT in our in-house production of Ayckbourn’s Round and Round the Garden in 2015) who was on stage for much of the play in his role as the vacuum cleaner salesman cum would-be spy, Wormold.

From Left: Charles Davies, James Dinsmore, Michael Onslow & Isla Carter

It is always such a pleasure to welcome Director, Amanda Knott, and her cast and members of the company to a bar reception and this was no exception.  It was a joy to meet and chat to them all and we send our best wishes as they continue their tour with this excellent play and hope to see them back at the DPT sometime soon.

 

Winner of the Oliver Award for best new comedy in 2015 and still going strong, what a phenomenon The Play that Goes Wrong has become not only in the West End and on Broadway, but with tours across the UK and Europe – and indeed the world, for we learnt that at least one member of the crew was about to leave for Japan and New Zealand with the show.

Slapstick it is, entertaining it remains but what a clever production from a talented cast of young actors. Many booking for the run in Eastbourne had seen the show before, but that clearly did not spoil their enjoyment of this fast-moving and hilariously funny play.  It was a packed house – even up in the Gods – for their opening night at the DPT a situation that was to be repeated until the end of their run.  Rarely – outside of panto – does the DPT ring with so much laughter.

What a pleasure it was to welcome this hard working cast for a really well earned drink after their on-stage exploits.  The Friends wish them every success with the remainder of their tour.  We hope they keep safe!

Judging by the laughter that started the moment the curtain rose and continued until the end, many in the audience for Waiting for God’s first night in Eastbourne  were fondly recalling the antics at the Bayview Retirement Home they had enjoyed in front of their TVs during several BBC TV series in the 1990s. The sitcom has been adapted for the stage by its creator, Michael Aitkens, and brought bang up to date for 2017.   All the favourite characters are still there – the main protagonists, Diana and Tom – played by two brilliant comedy actors, Nichola McAuliffe and Jeffrey Holland  –  and the cringingly awful, Harvey Baines with love-struck Jane fawning over him, head a really talented cast in this fast-paced comedy.

It was an evening packed full of laughter and humour: one of pure entertainment and enjoyment.  What was there not to like?

clockwise from top left:
Emily Pithon, Joanna Bending, David Benson, Jeffrey Holland, Peter Cadden,
Samuel Collins, Corinna Marlowe

It was with real pleasure that the Friends welcomed the cast, the writer/creator and some of the company to the bar for drink after the show.  Sadly, Nichola was unable to join us as she had to return home that evening but it was so lovely to see so many old friends and make some new.

 

It was especially good to see our good friends Jeffrey Holland and his wife Judy Buxton.  Judy had just started rehearsals for Trespass, the Emlyn Hughes ghost story – which comes to the DPT in mid-June and we also learned that Jeffrey will be back in Brassed Off with Talking Scarlet in September.  We can’t wait!

It is amazing how even the best part of seventy-five years on, the thought of the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands in 1943 can bring a chill.  German-occupied Guernsey was the setting for this wonderful play written by Moira Buffini in 1997 and for which she drew her inspiration from actual accounts of life on the island at that time. She focuses on the sensitive relationships between the local women and the occupying German officers.  It was a time of pure terror, hardship and food shortages and it is a good feeling to think that the desperate – yet feisty –  women in this play were typical of those living what must have been totally terrifying ordeal with a future (if they had one) full of uncertainty.

It was a capacity audience that waited in anticipation of the house lights going down in front of an amazing raised set of a somewhat austere Guernsey farmhouse – which, we were to learn afterwards from the producer, had all manner of significance and symbolism.  Perhaps – as we were also to hear – not so good for those sitting in the front rows of the stalls, though!

This well cast and superbly acted play was full of drama, suspense with some brilliantly timed humour thrown into the mix.  The two hours went amazingly quickly and it was unsurprising that the bar was packed with Friends waiting eagerly to welcome this wonderful cast and members of the company.

The Cast. (clockwise from top left): Paul McGann, Sarah Schoenbeck,
Venice van Someren, Belinda Lang, Jules Melvin, Robin Morrisey

For the majority, it was their first visit to the Eastbourne stage – and for Paul McGann the first time he had taken a play on tour.  It was a joy to welcome them all and we are grateful for their willingness to chat, share their thoughts and allow more than the usual number of selfies!  The party went on for some time – as the pictures below bear witness.

 

 

So, who was was Gabriel?  An RAF pilot, an SS interrogator, a local boy with amnesia or perhaps a saviour sent from heaven?  No spoilers here, but perhaps we will never know!

We have been very lucky this year with some (if not most) of the productions on offer at the DPT and we must all give Chris Jordan a huge vote of thanks for bringing yet another top quality play for us to enjoy.  More of the same, please, Chris!

For many in the packed house at the DPT for the first night of Abigail’s Party, it was frightening to think that it is indeed forty years since Mike Leigh’s iconic play was first performed.  The set before them was perhaps so reminiscent of the homes they knew all those years ago.  The room divider – complete with drinks cabinet –  the shag pile carpet, the vinyl records, the cheese and pineapple on sticks stuck into a foil covered orange, not to mention the plentiful supply of alcohol!

It is a period piece now – but so beautifully performed by the five-strong cast led by Amanda Abbington as the appalling hostess, Beverley!  The audience were enthralled and appalled in equal measure as the drinks party from hell degenerates into total chaos, the drama intensifies and the comedy becomes tragedy – ending on a note of total farce!  A heady mixture which, despite those oh so cringing moments, stands the test of time.  So convincing had the performance been, it led one Friend to ask a cast member if there had been much improvisation, “definitely not” came the reply with some mutterings about how unhappy that would have made Mike Leigh!  Not to mention the technical difficulties the stage management would have encountered in synchronising Demis Roussos!

The Cast: clockwise from top left: Ben Caplan, Amanda Abbington, Ciaran Owens, Rose Keegan and Charlotte Mills

It was a very enthusiastic group of Friends who gathered in the bar in anticipation of meeting Beverley, Laurence, Angela, Tony and Susan – aka Amanda, Ben, Charlotte, Ciarán and Rose!  It was an absolute joy to chat to such a friendly group of actors who gave very freely of their time.  This particular party went on for some time.

We wish them well for the remainder of their UK tour and hope to see them all back at the DPT soon!

“Just seen Pink Mist. I nearly didn’t book thinking this really wasn’t my thing – so glad I did” were the words of a Friend posted on our Facebook page after the opening night of the play.  How many times was that sentiment shared by others in the audience that night?  This play, written by Welsh novelist, playwright and poet Owen Sheers and originally commissioned by BBC Radio 4, has been received with much critical acclaim since it was first produced on stage by Bristol Old Vic in 2015.

The play, which tells the story of three young men from Bristol who from an early age had wanted to ‘play war’ and who get to do the real thing in Afghanistan, was inspired by the playwright’s interviews with thirty returning servicemen.  It is not a comfortable subject matter – even less so when research shows that the title is army slang used to describe the way the spray of blood hangs in the air when a body is blown up – when “vitality turns to vapour”.

It is powerful stuff and beautifully performed by the talented six-strong cast – all of whom remain on stage throughout.  A true example of how the right words and actions need no complicated and expensive set – in this case a wheelchair and a bench.  Added to this was really clever lighting, projection, sound and amazing choreography – that was so disciplined and synchronised that at times the cast seemed to perform as one – which made watching the play a spellbinding and heart-wrenching experience.  So much so that there was barely a dry eye in the house as the curtain came down!

Front: Zara Ramm, Peter Edwards, Rebecca Hamilton
Behind: Alex Steadman, Dan Krikler, Rebecca Killick

It had been a good sized audience and the bar was crowded with Friends awaiting the cast and company after the show.  For most, if not all, of this young cast it was a first time in Eastbourne and they all chatted happily sharing their experiences of this demanding play. The discussions went on for some time!

The cast with Producer, Nick Williams; Stage Manager, Tom Gamble and ASM Megan Doherty

We wish them every success as their tour of the UK draws to its end.

Posted February 27th, 2017

Waiting in the foyer before the show, theatre-goers were startled by the sound of gunfire and raised voices – fortunately a rehearsal for what was to unfold some two-plus hours later!  Another slick production from the Kenwright stable – now rebadged The Classic Thriller Theatre Company – and a move away from Agatha Christie to this adaptation of what is considered to be one of Ruth Rendall’s best thriller stories involving the slaughter of four members of the same family in Suffolk on Valentine’s Day sometime in the late 1970s.  Not written as a whodunit – in fact the novel opens with the murder sequence – there is nevertheless a crime to solve and to keep the audience engaged and guessing.  Is the culprit that obvious? Surely too much so; but no spoilers here.

After some brilliant on-stage performances from everyone in this talented twelve-strong cast – with special mention to Sophie Ward as the dowdy, apparently unworldly housekeeper and Deborah Grant as her curly-yellow-wig-toting ex-prostitute-cum-postmistress friend (a mismatched friendship if ever there was one!)  – it was wonderful for the Friends to welcome the cast and company to the bar for a well-earned drink

It had been a packed house on this opening night at the DPT: a situation echoed in the bar where there was barely standing room!

As always so good to chat to the cast and company – old friends and new – and get some insight into the production.  We thank them for giving up their time and their willingness to sign autographs.

We, of course, wish them well for the remainder of their stay in Eastbourne and the success of their continuing tour which, we were told, continues until August.