A bunch of amateurs do A Bunch Of Amateurs. Nothing amateurish about this performance. It’s always a delight to review for Lyndhurst Drama and Musical Society as the venue, the welcome and the quality adds atmosphere to a fun night out. Though, for once, I would prefer to attend when the thermometer rises above 10C.
The play is a stalwart on the Hampshire circuit. It resonates as it’s all about a spirited woman trying to save what she loves from falling foul of modern times. In this case a rather backward old fashioned theatre company populated with the usual characters one expects to find in a drama society. She could just stand aside. She could let everything roll over her. Instead, she keeps fighting for the community, often with very little thanks, navigating gargantuan egos and finally – not without some turbulence – finds herself validated by a positive outcome. Very Hampshire!
There is a lot of warmth and comfort to be gained from this excellent cast. They very quickly found their stride on the first night. Hannah Marks (Dorothy) shoulders the play with passion and enthusiasm. I really believed that she was in the game to save the community. Not an easy thing to pull off. The waspish, ghastly Nigel (Richard Barnett) is often played as a one note caricature but here Richard found layers and even humanity (well, for Nigel) which was excellent. Shawn Condra (Jefferson Steel) clearly knows what it’s like to be an American star and does ‘fish out of water’ well in a laconic aloof way. He is never better, however, when sheltering from the fire alarm and sprinklers.
Emma Davis (Jessica Steel) works brilliantly in partnership with Jefferson and has fabulous comic timing. Spielberg, eh? She cleverly builds into the catalyst for Jefferson’s redemption as well as finding time for a bit of reconciliation. Mary Plunkett (Debbie Murray) is a wonderful character shifting from adoration to bitterness and completely able to serve up a Full English. Jack Barnett reminded me a bit of Mr. Poppy from the Nativity films. This made me laugh – as did he with the Kent eye effects and his performance– considering his character is called Dennis ‘Dobbins’. Quite how Charlotte Hall (Lauren Bell) kept a straight face whilst providing Jefferson with physiotherapy I don’t know. It’s another of those ‘for the dads’ scenes that I am less comfortable with, but Charlotte was having none of the predictable lustiness, which was refreshing. She also did splendidly in the rest of the play in case you were wondering.
Jenny Green has done a great job at putting together a funny but thoughtful show. It powers through with the laughs, and yet the characters and their journey are not left behind. The ever-reliable production team and front of house staff continue to give their all to pull everything together to make for a talented and enjoyable experience. The barman is the friendliest barman in Hampshire.
There is a very nice little musical coda that happens at the curtain call. My reaction at the end of this cracking show was “I’ll have a King Beer”. A Bunch Of Amateurs runs until Saturday 2nd April. You really should get down there and “brush up your Shakespeare”.