The Barn Theatre,
25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

Tel: 01959 561811
Email: barntheatre


Southern Counties Drama Festival 2018


Theatre Info


Around the Barn



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Peter Calver (Chairman), Maia Oleson and Kevin Charman (from sponsors ICB Group), Nicholas Owen (Patron)

21st - 24th February

Peter Calver (Chairman of the SCDF) introduced us to our Adjudicator for the week Jennifer Scott-Reid, who was making her first appearance at the Barn as Festival Adjudicator.

The plays in this year's festival were all of an extremely high standard. They benefitted from salient feedback from the adjudicator who also took time to informally chat with Directors and actors after the shows which was greatly appreciated.

And so to the first of the plays...:

Wednesday 21st February

"The Allotment"
by Gillian Plowman performed by Sevenoaks Players

Four women are carrying out community service working on an allotment. As the story unfolds, we discover the various actions that have led to their punishments. Marcie, played by Shelia Bramley, had been convicted of dangerous driving. Norah, played by Emma Margrett, was a shoplifter. Lorna, played by Deborah Berger-North, was an arsonist. Belle, played by Kathy Gelbert, blackmailed her boss. The fifth character Daisy, the new probation officer, was played by Ruth Makepiece. The actors defined their roles clearly as they alternated between the reality of the present and their fantasies, each being believable as they recounted their pasts and justified their criminal actions. There were strong performances particularly during the monologues. All the actors had good projection and spoke their lines clearly. The group worked well as an ensemble piece. The experienced Sandra Barfield directed them in a confident way, using all the stage and creating some very picturesque tableaux. The set was well designed to denote the outdoors and the lighting enhanced the atmosphere. The lively opening music set the scene and the modern day costumes were appropriate.

"An Englishman Abroad" by Alan Bennett performed by Roan Theatre Company

A newcomer to the festival, Roan Theatre Company, performed the play which was based on a meeting of the actress Coral Browne and the defecting spy Guy Burgess. Alan Bennett presents his vision of this true story of a chance meeting. Sarah Coleman as Coral Browne and Stuart Mitchell Smith as Guy Burgess were well matched and seemingly very comfortable with each other. They used the stage well and voice production was clear. The costumes enhanced their roles. The set was evocative of a seedy Moscow flat and lighting was used to create spotlight areas for the monologues and vignettes with the tailor and assistant. These two cameo roles were well played by Richard Rickson and Graham Johnson respectively. They portrayed the sophisticated world that Burgess had relinquished. Callum Brice played the comedic role of Tolya, the minder which brought some light relief and singing into the well-crafted and sensitive production. Director Simon Clifton managed to convey the craftsmanship of Alan Bennett and the result was a very watchable piece of theatre.
Sarah Coleman was nominated in the Best Adult Actress category and Callum Brice was nominated for the Adjudicator's Award as she particularly liked his rendition of the song. Stuart Mitchell Smith was awarded Best Adult Actor.
Best Actor – Stuart Mitchell Smith (Guy Burgess)

Thursday 22nd February

"Nine" by Jane Shepard performed by The Oxted Players

SCDF gives theatre groups a chance to be experimental and push the boundaries of drama. If the media has not already done so, The Oxted Players production of Nine brought to our attention the horror and fear of hostage taking. In this two-hander we were exposed to humanity in its rawest state. Ghislaine Bowden's sensitive direction and the actor’s portrayals kept the audience gripped throughout the performance. Croia Reilly, as the war-hardened journalist maintained credibility and was a perfect foil for the gentler innocence of Amy Prosser, the humanitarian aid worker. As the dialogue swung between dominance and terror these two actors supported each other and gave very sensitive performances. The scripted dark humour and word play added to the overall feeling of desperation by these two strong actors. The realistic sound effects and stark lighting enhanced the atmosphere. The simple set was the perfect compliment for such a thought provoking piece of theatre.
Croia Reilly was nominated for Best Adult Actress and Amy Prosser was awarded Best Adult Actress. The Martin Patrick Award for Best Director went to Ghislaine Bowden. The Oxted Players were nominated for Best Stage Presentation and received Best Adult Production. They were the overall winners this week, receiving The ICB Festival Winners Award and going through to the next heat on 13th May in Maidenhead.
Best Actress – Amy Prosser (Woman 2)
Martin Patrick Award for Best Director – Ghislaine Bowden
Best Adult Production

"Hello Darkness My Old Friend" by Sue Wilding performed by Merstham Amateur Dramatic Society

This was a poignant tale of family loss. The father Phil played by Bruce Christie was doubly suffering. His son Joe disappeared whilst out playing football and his wife had left him for another man. Bruce Christie sympathetically portrayed Phil in a low key way with a degree of pathos and vulnerability. The imagined conversation he had with his son was full of wry humour and paternal love, a theme which consistently ran throughout the script. Joe was convincing played by Guy Strain who showed theatrical promise from this acting debut. His character was realistic and he demonstrated a typical teenage relationship with his stage father. Marion Barker playing the ex-wife and mother, Sarah gave sustained performance of a woman exasperated by her ex-husband. Steve Jones directed a realistic production with empathy and warmth. The set was simple and effective. It echoed the desolation of the characters.
Guy Strain was nominated for both Best Young Actor and the Adjudicator's Award, for his superb comic delivery. Bruce Christie was nominated for the Best Adult Actor Award

Friday 23rd February

"Macbeth" abridged by Farrar Williams performed by the Glow Theatre Group

This abridged version of Macbeth is an ideal introduction to Shakespeare for primary aged children. The cast from Glow attacked the play with vigour and enthusiasm. They were well disciplined and confident on stage, maintaining their characters throughout. One member of the chorus, on finding herself on the wrong side of the stage, strode confidently (in character) to her assigned position. Many adult actors would have been thrown by this error. The chorus, dressed simply with sashes to denote characters were well drilled and performed their ensemble pieces with vivacity and accuracy. The tableaux and fight sequences were excellent. The principle actors spoke clearly and moved about the stage with aplomb. The sound and lighting effects enhanced this production by Julia Ascott. She managed to channel the children's energy and give them an enjoyable introduction to the Bard.
Millie Yeo as Lady Macbeth, Rosie Chambers as Banquo and Connie McMillian as Macduff were all nominated for Best Young Actress. Billy Wilson as Malcolm was nominated for Best Young Actor and Zachary Millar as Macbeth received the Best Young Actor Award. The three witches Tamsin Felipe-Harrington, Emmylou Davison and Brooke Patterson were nominated for the Adjudicator's Award for physicality, commitment and hair. Lara Davis as Porter was also nominated, showing great flair of comedy and appearing drunk. The Adjudicator's Award went to Connie McMillan as Macduff for energy, intention and being scary. Glow Theatre Group was nominated for Best Stage Presentation.
Best Young Actor – Zachary Millar (Macbeth)
Adjudicator’s Award – Connie McMillan (Macduff)

"Blood on Canvas" by Richard James performed by Glow Theatre Group

This two-handed thriller was ideally suited for the actors. It was obvious that Charlotte Bridson and Isabella Falconer had thoroughly rehearsed this play and were confident in their roles. The balance of power swung between the two of them with fluent ease. Isabella tackled her part as an over enthusiastic art collector with energy and humour. Her sense of timing was good and her facial expressions and gestures created a very plausible character. Charlotte too played a convincing role as the artist Maddie with good sense of timing and use of pauses. The set was imaginatively conceived with blank canvases on easels giving the appearance of an artist's studio. The use of lighting enhanced the atmosphere with a stunning sequence of fire and flames. The tinkling notes of the piano throughout the play added tension to what was a nail biting and edgy drama. Director Jackie Driscoll has again provided the audience with a high standard piece of theatre.
This play was nominated for Best Stage Presentation and won Best Youth Production. Charlotte and Isabella shared the Best Young Actress Award.
Best Young Actress – Charlotte Bridson (Maddie) and Isabella Falconer (Stella)
Best Youth Production

Saturday 24th February

"The Domino Effect" by Fin Kennedy performed by Glow Theatre Group

Fin Kennedy has the knack of weaving realism with fantasy to produce a magic of its own. This is evident in The Domino Effect which charts the life journey of the Rahman family living in the East End of London. This performance was a vibrant sensual experience. As usual the Glow Theatre Group provided us with a slick, well rehearsed ensemble piece full of pace and energy. The principle characters moved and spoke with clarity and precision. All the actors appeared confident and used the stage well. The choral speaking was efficient and well polished due surely to many hours of rehearsal. The whole production was enhanced by the inspired use of many props which were skilfully constructed by Malcolm Le Croissette and manipulated by members of the chorus. The imaginative sound and lighting were a tour de force which added to the atmosphere and created a magical and breath-taking journey. As ever the vision of director Jackie Driscoll gave us an evening of drama with which we could identify.
Emma Starbuck as Nabijah Rahman and Isabella Falcolner as Samit Rahman were nominated for Best Young Actress. Evan Moynihan as Joynul Uddin and Joshua Millar as the Debt Collector were nominated for Best Young Actor. This play won the Best Stage Presentation Award.
Best Stage Presentation

"Strangers" by Colin and Mary Crowther performed by Oast Theatre, Tonbridge

This was a many layered story of an elderly woman selling up and moving on. As the plot evolved, the situation became more complex. This older woman, Elizabeth, played by Annie Young delivered all her lines, especially the long monologues, with empathy. She had a voice which was easy on the ear and she had good projection. She sustained her feisty character throughout. Susanna played by Karen Gorbutt provided a good counterweight. She demonstrated a vulnerability beneath the tough brittle surface of the estranged daughter. Disguised as a fisherman, Cassiel played by Mel Paszkowski, was portrayed as an all knowing guardian angel who provided the back story. His character contrasted well with the more voluble mother and daughter. He achieved good stage presence with his stillness and ability to listen. The set was imaginatively designed, cleverly using a platform as a jetty and with a skeleton boat. The discordant music and harsh birdsong added to the friction between the two women. Sandra Barfield directed this tale of love and loss with sensitivity and compassion. It was a thoughtful production well suited for a festival.
Annie Young as Riverwoman was nominated as Best Adult Actress and Mel Paszkowski was nominated as Best Adult Actor. The Oast Theatre was nominated for Best Stage Presentation.

Reviews by Tricia Whyte and photos by Mike Sutton