National Operatic & Dramatic Association                               London Region

 Society                :  St Peter Players
 Production         :  Sand Castles
Date                       :  22 March 2018
 Venue                  :  Chalfont St Peter Community Centre
 Report by            :  Judith Watsham

  Show Report

Thank you for inviting me to report on your spring production and for welcoming me to the opening performance.  I usually avoid first nights to give the actors a chance to settle down, sometimes very necessary if the ‘dress’ has been a nightmare!

Firstly, your set.  Designed by your director, Alan Caesar Gordon, who also constructed it alongside Tina Barclay and brother Graham, this was very good.  I particularly liked the tall masking side flats which just shouted ‘seaside’.  The row of beach huts was very effective too – my only comment here is that, for me, the middle one which had been deserted for a few years, was not quite shabby enough.  Perhaps the shiny bolt and padlock could have been dingier and the windows dirty?  However, the overall effect was excellent.

Les Brewer’s lighting design was very good once again and you successfully achieved the bright light which you get when the sun is reflected off sea and sand.

Ollie Bentley, who I think operated both light and sound, did a good job.  The snatches of ‘seaside’ music were well timed and added to the atmosphere – could there have been a few more seagulls perhaps?

Costumes, Ruth Corner and Liz Peskin, were also excellent – but I have come to expect this from the Players.  One very small quibble, would it have been possible to have identical wet and dry swimming costumes?  I am perhaps being a bit demanding but when people announce that they have been splashing in the sea they are usually slightly wet!  However, the changes of clothing made by most of the cast denoted ‘next day’ or even ‘some weeks’ later’ as the programme omitted this information.

On the subject of the programme, Tina Barclay, nice and informative – the cast notes were amusing too.  I assume there was just no space in this 8-pager for a list of the scenes?  You did not mention who was acting as prompt either and unfortunately whoever was in the hot seat when I came had to use her skills from time to time.  I hope she had less to do for the other performances?

I assume the reason that the props are credited to ‘members of the cast’ is due to the fact that your props ladies were on stage this time?  All good, especially the Patterson’s beach hut furniture which matched the hut colour, not a coincidence I am sure!  I also noticed that the wine really looked like wine.  There were also enough stuffed bags to sustain the illusion that the three families planned to stay for a few weeks.

Martin Sutton as William Patterson gave an excellent performance and was paired very well with Tina Barclay as wife Margaret.  Your subtle occasional glances at each other when future plans were mentioned by others was very telling and well done and supported the slightly bitter sweet ending well.  William’s roguish twinkle when he saw the girls sunbathing contrasted well with the Billets’ outrage too.

The bossy and dictatorial Stan Billet was well played by Louis Stansfield.  You successfully played the part of a man who was never going to be able to relax, forget work and enjoy his holiday whatever happened.

Kate Patterson gave the audience a believable Bernice Billet who only wanted to sit down with a glass (or six) of wine.

Lucy Shirley brought sister Pauline to life – from a shy retiring girl to an outgoing character immersed in a love affair.  I did think your hair might have been wet though when you emerged from the sea.

What can I say about Ruth Corner as Mrs Billet?  You were excellent and I loved the inelegant way you sat – just about revealing all, and your disgruntled face said it all!  Your throw away remarks were so well delivered and, most importantly, you were always in character – loved the walk too!

Steve Cubbage played the larger than life, rather brash Doug well.  I did feel, however, that it was rather odd that you returned from your swim fully dressed and bone dry!

The two nubile nieces, Debs, Helen Capewell, and Becky, Natalie Nicholls, were well acted.  Liked the tattoo.

The comedy provided by Graham Caesar Gordon in his two cameo roles of the beachcomber and Mr Kite was well timed and worked well and your ineffective efforts to fly the kite, aided or hindered, by Joan Carr, were funny.  Well acted both of you.

The three ladies who resented the attitude of the ‘hutters’ were delightfully played by Liz Peskin, Wendy Graham and Janeta Kling.  Your facial expressions when you successfully invaded the sacrosanct space in front of the huts were priceless.

Finally, the brief appearance of Jess Sutton and Matilda Patterson as two girls who were obviously desperate for the loo!  Well done girls, I believed in your predicament totally.

Judith Watsham

Regional Rep NODA London 11 and 11A