As a homage to amateur dramatics, A Bunch of Amateurs, written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, works especially and lovingly well when performed by erm a bunch of amateurs. This is definitely the case in a current production by West Bridgford Dramatic Society.
My first visit to the purpose built studio theatre in West Bridgford Nottingham provides for a matinee performance that is the perfect theatrical recipe for the chills outside as the group offer a very warm welcome. A full house of cosy punters are ready to enjoy a fair few laughs and a bit of drama and some Shakespeare thrown in at The Studio Theatre on Stamford Road West.
A Bunch of Amateurs is well constructed play for a relatively small company and, as witnessed in this fine production that is tightly directed by Rob Dixon, there’s no huge need for big scene changes or expensive sets. The company do have to be good at convincing us of their roles and relationships though and the cast of seven plus live and recorded voices are both likable and convincing and, as an audience, we easily relax into their company and their stories.
The cast are as follows; Kristina Russell (Dorothy Nettle), Christine Thomas ((Mary Plunkett), Tim Farrow (Nigel Dewbury), Luke Bratton (Denis Dobbins), Bill Niven (Jefferson Steel), Emily Martin (Lauren Bell), Katie Minns ((Jessica Steel).
Niven is compelling and acerbic as silver-wigged and past his sell by date US action film actor Jefferson Steel. He has us convinced of his journey from embittered actor out of his depth amongst English amateurs in Stratford in Suffolk not Upon Avon. Farrow steals the show as the comically snobbish Nigel who is determined to play King Lear against all odds. Playing the female leads are Russell as Dorothy Nettle and Thomas as Mary Plunkett. Both put in warm naturalistic performances which convey a real Suffolk amateur theatre community without us needing to witness a room full of people as was seen in the popular film version of the same title.
The play has its final performance tonight and has sold out during the whole run which is a great testament to the power of amateur theatre done very well to highly amused and appreciative audiences. The West Bridgford Dramatic Society perform three plays a year and this reviewer will certainly be back for the next one at this bijou theatre at the end of a country lane yet not that far from the centre of West Bridgford.