Monday, 29 November 2021

Actor’s tales of love, regret and mayhem

AN actor with the Wargrave Theatre Workshop has written two one-act plays which will premiere at Woodclyffe Hall on Wednesday.

Graham Wheal was asked to step in after the group shelved plans to perform The Magistrate, by Arthur Win Pinero, which had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was decided that due to concerns about social distancing, a shorter production with a smaller cast would work better.

Graham, who lives in Wargrave, said: “The Magistrate was quite long and it involved a fair amount of people all huddling underneath tables.

“The play needed quite a big cast and we had quite a mixed age group, with a number of older actors in it. There needed to be a lot of work with actors in close proximity to each other so we decided that it would make sense to not go ahead.”

Graham was then approached to see if he would write a one-act play as he had experience of writing a novel.

He said: “When we had our meeting to decide what we were going to do I was taken to one side by Joy Haynes, who has been a producer and director of lots of our productions, and asked if I could write something for the group.

“Inbetween the lockdowns last year we did a number of outdoor performances and we found that shorter plays with smaller casts gave us greater flexibility.”

In the end Graham wrote two plays, Reservations and A Chance Encounter in Oxford, which the group with perform with Hidden Meanings by Michael Snelgrove.

Graham said: “Reservations features a younger and a middle-aged couple and an old man who are sitting at three tables in a restaurant. The younger couple are quite idealistic, the middle-aged couple are having marital problems and are deciding whether or not they should stay together whereas the old man is there to show things can work out well in the end. It is a comedy but there is a fair amount of poignancy in it which the audience can connect with.”

The play has a cast of seven, comprising Don (Dan Brown), Janice (Evie Stannard), Donald (Graham Wheal), Jay (Jo Cole). the “old man” (Joe Haynes), a waitress (Tanya Jessop) and an “old woman” (Joy Haynes) and is directed by Graham.

After the group was unable to get the rights to perform one act of a Harold Pinter play, Graham was asked if he could come up with another idea.

He said: “A Chance Encounter in Oxford just came to me and is an hilarious but rather worrying chance meeting. A couple bump into each other in the street and there is this moment where they realise they do know each other but can’t think from where.”

It features just the two characters, a man and a woman, played by Clive Dow and Grace Tye, and is directed by Clive.

Graham adds: “This is a very short play, about seven or eight minutes, but there is a big surprise at the end.”

Hidden Meanings focuses on the lead character’s obsession with Sherlock Holmes.

In his efforts to recreate a final scene with Moriarty for the local Sherlock Holmes Society, a riotous sequence of events unfolds.

The cast is as follows: Charles Meaning (Lloyd Scrivener), Rodney Carson (Mike Watt), George Humby (Peter Pearson), Sylvia Carson (Tanya Jessop), Edna (Linda Daman), Inspector Jobling (Graham Howe), Moira Meaning (Jenny Manning), Glenda (Ann Pearce) and Deirdre (Evie Stannard) and is directed by Emmajane Dean and Chris Christie.

The plays are being staged under the banner Marriage, Memories and Mayhem and performances are from Wednesday to Saturday, starting at 8pm daily.

Tickets cost £12 from www.wargravetheatre.co.uk

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