Bonkers Theatrical are a Multi Award Winning production company formed in 2008 and are the resident company at Bonkers Playhouse.
We strive to deliver gritty & thought provoking or very funny theatre with each and every performance. We believe the Theatre is not somewhere that you should go, watch, be entertained but ultimately forget when you walk out of the foyer. It is our mission to encourage our audiences to think about what they have seen and the characters that have reached out to them. If we can make you consider that, after the event, then we as a company have succeeded.
“The enemy of theatre is the absence of imagination”

Current Productions

 

Orphans

Synopsis:

Two grown orphan brothers live in an old dilapidated row house in North Philadelphia, deserted in childhood by an unfaithful father and by the death of their mother. Older brother Treat, brutal and violent, provides for his younger brother Phillip by being a petty thief, interpreting the role of father. With the love and protectiveness of an older brother and an orphan’s fear of abandonment, Treat takes away Phillip’s chances to grow up, depriving him of knowledge and forcing him to live in a world of illiteracy and innocence, relegating him to their lost childhood. As Treat is out stealing to put food on the table, Phillip never leaves the house, thinking he will die from something outside because of a near deadly allergic reaction he had as a child. Haunted by the death of their mother, he spends his time lying in her closet filled with unworn clothes. Curious about the world, he secretly attempts to understand things by watching reruns of ‘The Price Is Right’ and underlining words in newspapers and old books he finds lying around. Treat kidnaps and ties up a Chicago gangster named Harold. Harold, an orphan himself, with the prowess of an escape artist, loosens the ties that bind him, turns the tables around, and with gun in hand, puts himself into the role of teacher, healer and surrogate parent.

Cast:
Phillip – Bobby Mutch
Treat – Daniel Fortune
Harold – Alan Galway

 

Blackbird

Synopsis:

At his workplace, 55-year-old Ray is shocked to be visited by a young woman, 27-year-old Una. Fifteen years earlier, he had sexually abused her. This relationship, which lasted three months, began and ended when Una was 12 and Ray was 40. Ultimately, they ran off together, and, while Ray was taking time to compose himself after realizing what he had just done, he left her alone in a motel room. She got worried and left to find him, which led to both of them frantically searching for one another and raising suspicions within the small coastal town where they were staying. Eventually, a couple out walking their dog took Una in and called the police after learning why she was there. Ray was then arrested and imprisoned. Upon his release, he managed to establish a reasonably successful new life under another name, but Una recognized him in a photograph and tracked him down. Ray takes Una to the office break room, where the two engage in a long and difficult confrontation involving Una’s continuing struggles to understand and come to terms with the abuse and her intensely conflicting emotions, which pivot between anger, curiosity, confusion, and even a persistent attachment to Ray, whom Una loved, and she believed that he loved her. The fearful Ray, who is himself trying to forget the past and the potential feelings he had for Una, parries her demanding questions and descriptions of her feelings and experiences, all the while uncertain of her intentions.

Cast:

Ray – David Mander

Una – Susan Hackett

Girl – T.B.C.

 

Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

Synopsis:

An American doctor and an Irish journalist are being held captive by terrorists in Beirut. They exercise and they argue, supportive in their mutual determination to survive. They are joined by an English academic. The three display their national biases and prejudices, which are intensified in the cramped confines of their cell. As time passes, resentments and recriminations give way to an acknowledgment of their characters, strengths and weaknesses. They learn that humour is their surest weapon against their captors and the safest armour to protect themselves. They shoot imaginary films, they throw a big party for each other, they play a fantastical game of tennis, they laugh at and with each other, and they learn to lament what was lost in their lives before captivity. Each comes to know himself through listening to the stories, sorrows and joys of the others. At the end of the play, they are capable of standing together and alone.

Cast:

Michael – James Wallace

Adam – John Simpson

Edward – T.B.C.

 

The Eight Reindeer Monologues

Synopsis:

Looking for something different this Christmas? Tired of ‘Pantomimes’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’? Well, this is the play for you! Eight reindeer dish the dirt on the real Santa. All those rumours you’ve heard about him and the elves. About Rudolph’s little secret and Vixen’s story that was leaked to the press, all true. Yes, the reindeer finally speak up and they do not hold back! This play is not recommended for younger audiences. Adults only for this one!

Cast:

Dasher – T.B.C.

Cupid – T.B.C.

Hollywood – T.B.C.

Blitzen – T.B.C.

Comet – T.B.C.

Dancer – T.B.C.

Donner – T.B.C.

Vixen – T.B.C.

 

Tell Me On A Sunday

Synopsis:

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s classic Tell Me on a Sunday is a
one-woman show that charts the course of a young English girl newly
arrived in New York. Brimming with optimism, she sets out to seek success, companionship
and, of course, love. But as she weaves her way through the maze of the
city and her own anxieties, frustrations and heartaches she begins to
wonder whether – in fact – she’s been looking for love in all the wrong
places.

Cast:

Emma  –  Kaye Stevens

Previous Productions

 

 ORPHANS

21st to 26th May 2018

The Cast

Phillip – Bob Mutch.

Treat – Daniel Fortune.

Harold – Alan Galway

The Story

Two grown orphan brothers live in an old dilapidated row house in North Philadelphia, deserted in childhood by an unfaithful father and by the death of their mother. Older brother Treat, brutal and violent, provides for his younger brother Phillip by being a petty thief, interpreting the role of father. With the love and protectiveness of an older brother and an orphan’s fear of abandonment, Treat takes away Phillip’s chances to grow up, depriving him of knowledge and forcing him to live in a world of illiteracy and innocence, relegating him to their lost childhood. As Treat is out stealing to put food on the table, Phillip never leaves the house, thinking he will die from something outside because of a near deadly allergic reaction he had as a child. Haunted by the death of their mother, he spends his time lying in her closet filled with unworn clothes. Curious about the world, he secretly attempts to understand things by watching reruns of ‘The Price Is Right’ and underlining words in newspapers and old books he finds lying around. Treat kidnaps and ties up a Chicago gangster named Harold. Harold, an orphan himself, with the prowess of an escape artist, loosens the ties that bind him, turns the tables around, and with gun in hand, puts himself into the role of teacher, healer and surrogate parent.

NODA Review

REVIEWED ON 22nd MAY 2018 AT BONKERS PLAYHOUSE THEATRE KETTERING

                        PLAY REPORT                            

“Orphans” is a very powerful play by Lyle Kessler. It tells the story of two grown up orphan brothers from North Philadelphia. The older brother, Treat, is a petty thief who is violent towards his brother and anyone else he meets. Phillip is the younger brother, he is kept innocent and illiterate and not allowed to leave the house by Treat’s misguided attempts to protect him. The third character in the play is Harold who is a gangster from Chicago and an orphan himself. Harold is kidnaped by Treat and the harrowing story unfolds ….

“Orphans” has been brilliantly directed by Mark Walker with exceptional casting and staging that took the audience on a roller coaster of emotions.

The three actors all gave outstanding performances and interacted well throughout the play, they each had believable and well-sustained characters. Daniel Fortune as Treat showed a streak of male-violence that was quite chilling and at times uncomfortable to watch, at the end of the play he showed a different, softer side to Treat when he cradled his dead mothers coat. Bobby Mutch as Phillip managed to portray the child-like innocence and naivety of his character very well and showed how much Phillip craved the love of his dead mother. Alan Galway as Harold made his entrance as a very plausible drunk, his character always appeared to have an alternative motive for his actions. It was very uncomfortable to watch his interaction with Phillip in act one when he wanted to touch his shoulders and give him “encouragement”, Phillip appeared to enjoy the contact but Treat became quite violent when Harold tried to give him “encouragement”. It was not until the very end of the play that I realised that Harold was not a paedophile but was in fact their father!

The incredible acting by Daniel, Bobby and Alan kept the audience on the edge of their seats all through the play as the tension and atmosphere built to its dramatic climax. Congratulations on three awesome performances!

The set for “Orphans” was very well constructed and dressed. The costumes were excellent. The lighting and sound quality was very good throughout.

Well done to all at Bonkers Theatrical for this thought provoking and tense drama.

Caroline Jervis

NODA East Midlands District 7 Representative.   

Audience Feedback

Wow, wow, wow! Where do I start?!? Tonight we went to see ‘Orphans’ at Bonkers Playhouse and I can safely say that it was beyond incredible!!! In the studio space, we felt completely immersed in the world of this psychological moving piece. The tension built by the trio was so high that I, as an audience member, genuinely forgot to breathe! (I have ACTUALLY strained my neck I was that tense). The characterisations were flawless from Daniel, Alan and Bobby! Utterly believable and accomplished throughout. The performance was so polished, with beautiful moments of non-verbal communication. Huge credit to Mark Walker, the attention to detail was simply stunning.

It’s not often that I’m astonished these days, but I was totally bowled over by the production of Orphans at the Bonkers Playhouse last night. Three mesmerising performances by Alan Galway, Daniel Fortune and Bobby Mutch and really tightly directed by Mark Walker. A tough play, very professionally handled

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THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES

18th to 25th March 2018

The Cast

Narrator – Jane Walker.  Woman 1 – Leisa Cooke. Woman 2 – Emma Williams. Woman 3 – Becky Woodham.

Woman 4 – Samantha Hammond. Woman 5 – Katie Rose Parker. Woman 6 – Kate Clennett.

The Story

The Vagina Monologues. At first women were reluctant to talk about their intimate zone. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn’t stop them. Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one’s ever asked them before.’ Eve Ensler has written a poignant and hilarious tour of the last frontier, the ultimate forbidden zone, The Vagina Monologues is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. Hailed as the bible for a new generation of women, it has been performed in cities and colleges throughout the world, and has inspired a dynamic grassroots movement — V-Day — to stop violence against women. Witty and irreverent, compassionate and wise, Eve Ensler’s award-winning masterpiece gives voice to real women’s deepest fantasies and fears, guaranteeing that no one will ever look at a woman’s body, or think of sex, in quite the same way again.

NODA Review

REVIEWED ON 19TH MARCH 2018 AT BONKERS PLAYHOUSE THEATRE

The Vagina Monologues is a very well written play by Eve Ensler. The play is set in a coffee shop where seven women sit relaxing and whilst drinking coffee they begin to talk about their intimate parts. The audience is taken on an emotional roller-coaster as the women discuss stories of violation, rape, torture, brutality, cruelty and all manner of women’s issues that would normally remain un-said. The stories are often sad, sometimes shocking and at times hilarious.

Bonkers Playhouse Theatre is an ideal venue for this production as from the moment the curtains opened you were part of the cosy atmosphere of the living room. The director, Mark Walker has excelled himself with the staging of this play the casting was perfect the set was superb and very well-dressed and the pace of the play was excellent.

The seven actors were all outstanding. Jane Walker was The Narrator and gave a very confident and sincere performance. Leisa Cooke was Woman I and was excellent throughout. Emma Louise Williams was Woman 2 and moved me close to tears when re-telling the story of her rape.  Becky Woodham was Woman 3 and her tale of the old woman’s “Flood” was really funny. Sam Hammond was Woman 4 her “Angry vagina” tale was excellent too.Katie-Rose Parker was Woman 5 and told of the woman who had a man who liked to “Look” at her bits, this too was hysterical. Kate Clennett was Woman 6 she had me in stitches with her description of the “Hair”. The monologue of Reclaiming the C*** was very tastefully done and had the audience laughing hysterically.The cast have all created great characters and when needed all had very convincing accents they interacted perfectly with each other and the play flowed with ease throughout the performance. Well done to all seven actors you were awesome!

The sound quality was excellent throughout and the lighting was perfect and used to great dramatic effect at poignant moments.

Congratulations to everyone, both on and off the stage for what was a faultless opening night!

CAROLINE JERVIS  NODA EAST MIDLANDS DISTRICT 7 REPRESENTATIVE.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK

Went to see this show last night and was thoroughly entertained by a fabulous cast. Incredibly funny, thought provoking, emotional and powerful. Would highly recommend that you buy tickets to see this. If you have not been to Bonkers Playhouse yet you will be surprised by the amazing facilities there. Support local theatre and talent.

My daughter treated me to Vagina Monologues last night as a mothers day gift. What an emotional, roller coaster. Laughed so much at times, very sad at others. Very informative. Would recomend providing you dont mind strong language very occasionally. Loved the venue. Wonderful friendly staff especially Mark. Hope to see you again soon.

Wow – Vagina Monologues – you ladies excelled. There is no way you should call yourself amateur, your performances are superb. Orgasmic almost!! The downside is you have created a stalker for all your future productions. Congratulations to you all.

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 WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?

19th to 24th February 2018

The Cast

Ken Harrison – Lester Cooke.  Sister Anderson – Leisa Cooke. Kay Sadler – Kate Clennett. John – Daniel Fortune. Dr Clair Scott – Jane Walker.

Dr Michael Emerson – Alan Galway. Mrs Gillian Boyle – Katie-Rose Parker. Phillip Hill – James Wallace. Dr Paul Travers – Luke Simcoe.

Peter Kershaw – Kevin Maltby. Dr Barr – Mark Walker. Andrew Eden – Adrian West-Tooms. Mr Justice Millhouse – David Wicks

The Story

“Whose Life is it Anyway” is a play about a man in hospital who fights for the right to choose to die. The hospital’s view, like the view of our society today, is that euthanasia is illegal and that doctors must try to preserve life and cannot destroy it. Ken Harrison is a quadriplegic after a car accident six months prior to the opening scene of the play. The doctors managed to stabilise him, but Ken is unable to move any part of his body other than his head and he cannot survive independently from the hospital. Before the accident he was a sculptor and he now wonders if he will ever be able to return to the life he once led. When he realises he will never be able to do so, he decides he does not want “to go on living with so much effort for such little result”.  The hospital staff, however, maintain that it is their job “to save life, not to lose it”. These opposing views are argued throughout the play and help to widen our knowledge of and opinions on euthanasia and free will.

NODA Review

REVIEWED ON 19TH FEBRUARY 2018 AT BONKERS PLAYHOUSE THEATRE

There are not many occasions in local amateur theatre that can go down as truly historic … but this was definitely one of those! What a privilege it was to be amongst the first audience on the opening night in this new purpose built playhouse. The new venue is warm and welcoming and the auditorium is very comfortable and intimate … perfect for plays.

Bonkers Theatrical has made an excellent choice in their opening production of “Whose Life is it Anyway?” by Brian Clark. The play started out as a TV play in 1972 and was then adapted for the stage in 1978, a film version was made in 1981. “Whose Life is it Anyway?” is as relevant and thought-provoking now as it was back in the 1970’s. The story is about sculptor Ken Harrison who is paralysed in a car accident and six months later begins a battle for the right to be allowed to die.

The play has been brilliantly directed by Mark Walker, the casting was perfect and as each character developed we were taken on an emotional roller-coaster, occasionally broken by moments of intense humour.

Full credit must go to Lester Cooke who played quadriplegic Ken Harrison, his performance was very well-controlled, inspirational and frankly awesome! The twelve other actors all gave incredible performances with great depth of character from each one of them … Alan Galway as Dr Emerson, Leisa Cooke as Sister Anderson, some much needed light re-leaf from Kate Clennett as Nurse Sadler and Daniel Fortune as John. Two performances that stood out for me came from Jane Walker as Dr Clair Scott and James Wallace as Phillip Hill, they both brought out the ultra-sensitivity in their roles. There was Katie-Rose Parker as Gillian Boyle, Luke Simcoe as Dr Paul Travers, Kevin Maltby as Peter Kershaw, Mark Walker as Dr Barr, Adrian West-Tooms as Andrew Eden and David Wicks as Justice Millhouse. Each and every one of these actors deserve equal credit as they all lay-bare the depth of their characters before the audience.

The set for this production was excellent and very well-constructed and dressed. The costumes and props were very good and authentic. The lighting and sound quality was perfect throughout the evening.

This was an excellent and faultless opening night, congratulations to everyone involved in this amazing production of “Whose Life is it Anyway?”

CAROLINE JERVIS. NODA EAST MIDLANDS DISTRICT 7 REPRECENTATIVE

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK

Well I do not know what to say, wow wow wow, what a fantastic play and performers, it was as good as we have seen in London. Thank you so much for a very enjoyable evening xx

Absolutely fantastic! Whose Life is it Anyway was so thought provoking – humour, sadness, human dilemma.. all brilliantly portrayed. We will definitely be back.

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SEX CELLS

28th to 30th September 2017

The Cast

Lily – Kate Clennett.  Sylvie – Alex Underwood. Janice – Katie-Rose Parker.  Tiffany – Susan Hackett.  Mr Causeway – David Mander.

The Story

Set in a busy call centre selling sex toys, Sex Cells is a bitter-sweet comedy drama that explores motherhood through the relationships and rivalries of the four women employees and their Manager, Mr Causeway. Lily is 65 years old with a 28 year old son. She has never examined their flimsy relationship until he resolves to break ties. Sylvie is 39 and desperate for a child. Her third attempt at IVF failed and with hardly any eggs left she will stop at nothing to have another go. Even if this means asking Lily, a woman she can’t stand, for a loan. Tiffany is 29. She has witnessed what children have done to the women in her life, not least her twin sister. She longs for love, but always meets the wrong men. Janice is 39 and has five children. She struggles to remember what it was like to be the independent woman she once was. The manager Mr Causeway is a gentle man of 55 who cannot deal easily with the stresses of life… or the constant rows that break out between his co-workers. A must-see for all mothers, want-to-be mothers and anyone who’s ever had a mother.

NODA Review

Reviewed on 29th Sept 2017 at the Star Hall, Finedon

“Sex Cells” a comedy drama written by Anna Longaretti, is set in a call centre that sells sex toys! We are taken on a roller-coaster of emotions by the five actors in this very well written play. Director, Mark Walker has surpassed himself with this hilariously funny, fast-paced production. “Sex Cells” was brilliantly cast and superbly staged. Well done Mark! There were awesome performances from the five cast members, each had very different and well-defined characters and they interacted perfectly with each other throughout the performance. Kate Clennett was excellent in the role of Lily, a lady who has fallen out with her son and lost her husband, Kate had a terrific well-sustained accent and great comic timing. Alex Underwood’s character Sylvia is desperate to have a baby and has been through several failed I.V.F. treatments. Alex gave an outstanding, thoughtfully controlled performance. Katie-Rose Parker played Janice, a thirty-nine year old woman with five children. This was another excellent and well-sustained performance. Susan Hackett plays Tiffany, a twenty-nine year old who is always on the look- out for love. Susan also had great comic timing and gave a bubbly performance which I enjoyed very much. Mr Causeway is the fifty-five year old hapless manager who has to deal with the four headstrong ladies he is brilliantly played by David Mander, he too has excellent comic timing and a very expressive delivery. Well done to all the cast you all gave first-class performances! The production had an excellent set which was very well-made and dressed. The blackouts in the scene changes were short and very slick and there was good use of incidental music to mask the changes. The props were very good throughout and well-managed. The costumes too were very good and in keeping with the piece. The lighting quality was excellent throughout the performance. Congratulations to all the company both on and off the stage for this hilariously funny and thoroughly enjoyable production. This was a faultless opening night, with no obvious problems. You should all be very proud!

CAROLINE JERVIS. NODA EM DISTRICT 7 REPRESENTATIVE.

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LUCKY ME

5th to 7th May 2016

The Cast

Sara – Alexandra Underwood.  Tom – Alan Galway.  Leo – David Wicks.  Yuri – Kev Aitkin.

The Story

Lucky Me is a whimsical comedy about love, aging, bad luck and airport security. Sara’s having a bad week. Really bad! The light bulbs in her apartment keep burning out, there’s a leak in the roof, the aquarium is full of dead fish, the cat’s gone AWOL, and her Father – who chased off her last beau – is suspicious of Tom, their new neighbour, a TSA agent who just brought Sara home from the emergency room on New Year’s Eve with a fractured fifth metatarsal. As Tom’s attraction to Sara increases, he learns of the bizarre streak of bad luck that’s been haunting Sara for years – twenty-two years to be precise.

NODA Review

Reviewed on 5th May 2016 at the Star Hall, Finedon

“Lucky Me” is the 14th production from Bonkers Theatrical and is a play written by Robert Caisley. I think I would describe the play as a romantic comedy with a great deal of drama. “Lucky Me” has been carefully directed by Mark Walker, the play is a difficult piece, having only four characters in it. The play begins quite slowly but picks up pace as act 1 progresses, like a simmering cauldron that erupts with moments of dramatic and sexual tension between the characters. Well done Mark for creating a piece full of atmosphere that is sustained from the beginning to the end. Congratulations to all four actors who appear in “Lucky Me”. The play is relentlessly wordy, demanding great concentration from its performers. All four created well-defined characters that were sustained throughout the performance. They all had very good accents which were also well-sustained. Alex Underwood plays Sara, a very pessimistic woman who has endured twenty two years of bad luck, her ex partners seem always to befall accidents and the last, her husband, died! A very strong performance indeed from Alex and I was particularly impressed with her scene in act 2 when she was alone on the sofa, talking on her mobile, a great soliloquy! David Wicks was excellent in the role of Leo, Sara’s father. Leo is a cantankerous, bitter, rude and selfish old man. The character, Leo, is blind and David was very convincing in his portrayal of a blind man, and had great interaction with the other performers too. Another excellent performance came from Alan Galway as Tom. Tom is a hapless, slow-witted, love-sick man who spends the duration of the play trying to woo Sara and is constantly at loggerheads with her father. A very controlled and sustained performance from Alan, well done! Yuri was the final character in the quartet of performers and was brilliantly played by Kev Aitkin. Yuri is the Ukrainian landlord who pops up in act 2 just in time to add some well-needed comic relief. The scene when Yuri turns to Tom and says “do you want to see my b******s? was absolutely hilarious! A well sustained performance from Kev. The set, provided by Eric St John was simple but very effective. It was well-dressed with good attention to detail, it even had a working and well-stocked fridge! The props and costumes were all good and appropriate. The lighting was used to good effect throughout with good use of blackouts to cover scene changes. The use of incidental music to cover scene changes was excellent. This was an excellent opening night with no obvious problems. Congratulations to all the company of Bonkers Theatrical on what was a very enjoyable evening.

CAROLINE JERVIS. NODA EM DISTRICT 7 REPRESENTATIVE.

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BOWING OUT

12th to 14th Nov 2015

The Cast

Greta – Janet Askew.  Betty – Christine Haynes.  Mary – Eileen Moloney.  Rita – Caroline Jervis.  Cindy – Jane Walker.

Milly – Emma Williams.  Fran – Lynda Wilkins.  Zoe – Kate Clennett.  Lorna – Alex Underwood.  Sheila – Leisa Cooke.

The Story

The action of the play takes place throughout a single day as is confined to the lounge of a care home for retired actors. As the play opens staff are attending the funeral of a resident. The home is very short of residents and the arrival of Sheila, a business manager from the Head Office of the company that owns the Home sparks desperate measures to increase the number of residents. Unfortunately, a series of mishaps to Sheila only add to the general chaos of the home. Things like lost teeth, incontinence issues and another death. Matters are further complicated – and come to a head – when one of the residents thinks she recognizes Sheila.

NODA Review

Jenny Chandler EM 8 (Deputising for Caroline Jervis EM 7)

Adrian Cale’s “Bowing Out” (a nice play on words) is set in a retirement home for actors. On the day on which the action takes place manager, Lorna, while trying to maintain order among her eclectic mix of retirees and staff receives a visit from head office in the person of Sheila who has been tasked with deciding the fate of the home which is in need of both more residents and more funding. The comedy develops as Lorna tries to energies everyone into strategies which will rescue their home. Alex Underwood (Lorna) and Leisa Cooke (Sheila) both brought their considerable acting expertise to their roles and delivered believable characters. They were well supported by Jane Walker and Emma Williams as staff members Cindy and Milly who were given the unenviable tasks of disguising themselves as pseudo extra inhabitants of the home. These roles gave both actors the opportunity to produce extremely over-the-top performances which they both relished. Newcomer to the company Kate Clements made her mark as Zoe the young hairdresser with ever an eye to the mainchance. However my star performer of the evening was Lynda Wilkin who, as the manic cook, Fran, was really quite scary – I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught in her kitchen! The cast was completed by the four lady retirees Janet Askew (Greta) Eileen Moloney (Mary) Christine Haynes (Betty) and Caroline Jervis (Rita).

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BONNIE AND CLYDE

19th & 20th Sept 2014

The Cast

Bonnie Parker – Emma Legg.  Clyde Barrow – David Mander.  Narrator 1 – Alan Galway.  Narrator 2 – Mark Walker.

The Story

An unconditional love story.
Based on the legend of the infamous outlaw couple, set   during the Great Depression of the 1930s in an unnamed southern state of the United States of America. The action unfolds in one self-contained scene in a disused barn, as the pair spend their final hours together on the run from the law. The pair’s dialogue touches on a number of morbid, adult themes, in particular criminality, poverty and destructive   romantic entanglement.

NODA Review

Reviewed by Jenny Chandler. 20/9/14 Deputising for Caroline Jervis.

The names of Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow will be forever enshrined in the annals of history of the U.S.A as amongst the most violent and unreasonable of villains and perpetrators of many horrific crimes. Adam Peck’s play sets out to give a more in depth insight into the characters of the infamous pair and perhaps goes some way to explaining the reasons why their lives descended into self destruction. Both Bonnie and Clyde lived during the Great Depression of the 1930’s when families could barely scratch a living and it was all too easy to fall into a life of crime. The action of the play is set in a disused barn where the two spent their last few hours before being blitzed in a roadside ambush.
Although a short piece, the dialogue successfully conveyed the deep feelings between the pair and perhaps some of their regrets. Both actors, David Mander (Clyde) and Emma Legg (Bonnie) excelled in their roles, showing empathy and a depth of feeling for their characters. The play was augmented by a narrative and some contemporary slides sourced and delivered by Alan Galway and Mark Walker. This really served to give the audience a clearer understanding of the couple, their background and times and while not exonerating them totally provided food for thought and a lingering sadness that the lives of Bonnie and Clyde could have been so different.
The set, lighting and costumes were well thought through and amply supported the on stage action.
Well done to all involved in providing a thought provoking evening.
Jenny Chandler (East Midlands Rep. District 8)

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GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS

8th to 10th May 2014

The Cast

Richard Roma – David Russell.  Shelly Levene – Jon Reynolds.  John Williamson – Lester Cooke.  Dave Moss – Alan Galway.  George Aaronow – John Simpson.  James Lingk – James Reynolds.  Detective Baylen – Gordon Ritchie.  Blake – Mark Walker.

The Story

Times are tough in a Chicago real-estate office; the salesmen (Shelley Levene, Ricky Roma, Dave Moss, and George Aaronow) are given a strong incentive by Blake to succeed in a sales contest. The prizes? First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is the sack! There is no room for losers in this dramatically masculine world, only “closers” will get the good sales leads. There is a lot of pressure to succeed, so a robbery is committed which has unforeseen consequences for all the characters.

NODA Review

This David Mamet Pulitzer Prize winning play set in a real estate office in Chicago is a pretty hard hitting piece of theatre. As sales are below expectations the bullish Blake (Mark Walker) sets his team, in no uncertain terms, the task of increasing sales making it a contest. To the winner will go a state of the art car but failure will result in dismissal. This news firmly sets the cat among the pigeons as each salesman tries to come up with strategies which will at least eliminate the loss of his position. Throughout the audience is made to see that, almost without exception, devious ploys are being brought into play as the men try to ensure that they will get the all important good sales leads which will result in a successful outcome.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a really challenging piece for any director and cast but, as usual, Mark had gathered a very strong group of local actors all of whom threw themselves whole heartedly into their respective roles. All gave memorable performances. Richard Roma (David Russell) the present king of the heap confident that he could win, Shelly Levene (Jon Reynolds) once the leader of the pack but now losing direction, Dave Moss (Alan Galway) a hustler and George Aaronow (John Simpson) who was my star performer of the evening as he demonstrated his characters angst and uncertainty to perfection. The remaining cast gave great support. I had a minor issue with the set in that i felt it needed to look a bit more up market and also i would have liked to see a good shine on the shoes. The men were, after all, salesmen and first impressions would be all important. However these are minor issues. The standard of the production from an acting point of view was first class and i’m sure the rest of the audience, like me, were very impressed.
(Reviewed by Jenny Chandler EM8 Deputising for Caroline Jervis)

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FROZEN

18th & 19th Oct 2013

The Cast

Ralph Wantage – David Mander.  Nancy Shirley – Jane Walker.  Agnetha Gottmundsdottir – Pam Dee.  The Guard – Alan Galway.

The Story

One evening ten year old Rhona goes missing. Her mother, Nancy, retreats into a state of frozen hope. Agnetha, an American academic, comes to England to research a thesis: “Serial Killing—A Forgivable Act?” Then there’s Ralph, a loner who’s looking for some distraction. Drawn together by horrific circumstances, these three embark on a long, dark journey which finally curves upward into the light. Angry, humane and compassionate, ‘Frozen’ is an extraordinary play that entwines the lives of a murderer, the mother of one of his victims and his psychologist to explore our capacity for forgiveness, remorse and change after an act that would seem to rule them out entirely.

NODA Review

It was with great trepidation that I entered the Masque Theatre at Barton Seagrave to review ‘Frozen’ by Bryony Lavery. After all the recent media coverage of Madeleine McCann and the Operation Yew Tree investigation, I knew the subject matter of ‘Frozen’ would be highly contentious and at the forefront of the audience’s minds. However, with Bonkers Theatrical’s reputation for dealing with such unorthodox subjects, I knew that it would be sensitively handled. Indeed, their bravery for taking on such a profound piece at this moment in time must be applauded.
The drama is particularly demanding and emotionally draining on both the audience and the actors alike. The uncomfortable subject matter of child abduction and murder, coupled with the highly emotive storylines, ensures the audience is taken on a rollercoaster of emotions.
The play opens with short monologues from each of the three main characters revealing his or her story. These stories intertwine and progress to duologues as they connect with one another and reveal how the characters gradually metaphorically ‘thaw’ and become ‘unfrozen’.
Jane Walker plays Nancy Shirley, the mother whose life has been ‘Frozen’ since the disappearance of her daughter, Rhona. Naturally, the audience’s sympathy is immediately for this character, but Walker’s impassioned performance ensures that this sympathy is maintained throughout – even with the shocking decision to meet her child’s murderer.
Pam Dee plays psychiatrist Agnetha Gottmundsdottir, an American academic who comes to England to research her thesis ‘Serial Killing – A Forgivable Act?’ Hers is perhaps the most difficult role for the audience to interact with as she is there not simply to confirm prejudices but to open minds to alternative possibilities. Dee played this role with such alacrity and professionalism that the audience’s preconceptions were definitely fully challenged.
David Mander’s portrayal of serial child killer, Ralph Wantage, was without doubt a stunning performance. He skilfully drew the audience in with his angry outbursts creating highly powerful drama along the way. This, coupled with revelations about his abuse as a child, ensured the audience were on the edge of their seats. Indeed, the audience were so riveted you could hear a pin drop.
Also, although he never said a word, Alan Galway played a very imposing prison officer.
Credit must go to Mark Walker for his skilful direction of the thought-provoking and often disturbing material.  His inspired decision to keep to a minimalistic one set ensured that full focus remained on the emotions. His creative use of projected backdrops and subtle sound bites ensured that the pace and tension were maintained without the need for full scene changes.
Congratulations to all involved for an extremely powerful, professional performance.
(Reviewed by Dale Freeman)

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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

27th to 29th June 2013

The Cast

Eddie Heptinstall – Alan Galway.  Pearl Heptinstall – Jane Walker.  Kevin Heptinstall – Bobby Mutch.  Sandra Heptinstall – Emma Legg.  Thomas – Seb Goss.  Hariett Pollock – Leisa Cooke.  Vernon Pollock – Lester Cooke.  Tarquin Pollock – Jonathan Cook.

The Story

Set some years ago, when physical and mental abuse was a fact of life to many women, this play is about domestic violence inside marriage – a subject still regrettably topical many, many years later. The engagement of two university students brings together their families.Sandra is from working class Doncaster and Tarquin is from the stockbroker belt of Chertsey in Surrey. The parents of both these students, although geographically and sociologically distant, share a common problem – the two fathers are controlling bullies with large fists. One mother seeks continual refuge in vodka bottles, the other in a make-believe gentleman companion, who is the antithesis of her husband. The play explores their different social attitudes in a dramatically comedic way to start with, but the mood darkens considerably when the brutish red mist and balled fists become unbearable and unstoppable, with unpleasant, but not altogether unexpected results.

NODA Review

I always look forward to seeing Mark Walker’s productions – they offer a challenge to both audience and actors and “Behind Closed Doors” was no exception.  Set quite a few years ago this play is about domestic abuse inside marriage and regrettably is still current. Two families, one from the Surrey stockbroker belt and the other in the north, a working class family from Doncaster.  The one thing the families have in common is that the fathers are both controlling bullies with fists as a solution for dealing with their “inadequate” wives.  The two families have been brought together as a result of their daughter, Sandra, from Doncaster (Emma Legg) and son, Tarquin, from Surrey (Jonathan Cook) getting it together at university and about to announce their engagement.  The play begins with a visit to the Heptinstall household where we meet the bully of a father, (played by Alan Galway) his slow witted son (Bobby Mutch) and his downtrodden wife (Jane Walker) who is used to getting a “belting” but has some spirit of her own and often gives (verbally) as much as she gets. Cut to the Surrey family where the father (Lester Cooke) has reduced his wife (Leisa Cooke) to a quivering wreck by emotional abuse which eventually results in physical abuse. How do the wives deal with this – well Pearl from Doncaster has invented a gentleman companion, Thomas (played by Seb Goss) who is the antithesis of her husband whilst Harriet from Surrey seeks solace from the vodka bottle. The two young people tell their individual families of their intended engagement and plans are made for the two families to meet at a mutually convenient venue. The worst type of behaviour is exhibited by the male members of both families resulting in Vernon and Harriet leaving shortly after arriving.  Back home in Surrey the emotional and severe physical abuse begins. This play explores the different social attitudes in a dramatically comic way to begin with but as the mood darkens when the brutish red mist and balled fists become unbearable and unstoppable with unpleasant but not altogether unexpected results.  Superb performances by EVERYONE in the cast. Once again another blockbuster of a drama from Bonkers Theatrical.  Many, many congratulations to everyone involved in this thought provoking production with outstanding direction by Mark Walker.

Nanette Lovell (Deputising for Caroline Jervis, Regional Representative, NODA East Midlands, District 7

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EXAM

14th to 16th March 2013

The Cast

One – Jonathan Reynolds.  Two – Julie Paris.  Three – Jane Walker.  Four – Leisa Cooke.  Five – Seb Goss.  Six – Ian Stark.  Seven – Frances MacKenzie.  Eight – Alan Galway.  The Invigilator – Mark Walker.  The Guard – Lester Cooke.

The Story

Eight talented candidates have reached the final stage of selection to join the ranks of a mysterious and powerful corporation. Entering a windowless room, an Invigilator gives them seventy five minutes to answer one simple question. He outlines three rules they must obey or be disqualified: don’t talk to him or the armed guard by the door, don’t spoil their papers and don’t leave the room. He starts the clock and leaves. The candidates turn over their question papers, only to find they’re completely blank. After the initial confusion has subsided, one frustrated candidate writes ‘I believe I deserve…,’ and is promptly ejected for spoiling. The remaining candidates soon figure out they’re permitted to talk to each other, and they agree to cooperate in order to figure out the question: then they can compete to answer it. At first they suspect the question may be hidden in their papers like a security marker in a credit card, and they figure out ways to change their environment to expose the hidden words. But light, liquids and other plans all come to naught. Soon enough, the candidates begin to uncover each other’s background, prejudices and hidden agendas. Tensions rise as the clock steadily descends towards zero, and each candidate must decide how far they are willing to go to secure the ultimate job . . .

NODA Review

What an incredible piece of theatre Bonkers Theatrical have created – again.   Simple story, or so it seems, eight talented candidates have reached the final stage of selection for a top job with a powerful corporation.  They are now required to sit an exam and that is how the set appears – to begin with.  Eight tables and chairs set in a typical exam style room.  The candidates take their seats and the invigilator appears and explains the rules.  They have one question to answer and 75 minutes to do this.  They turn their papers over, but no question. So what to do now?  Oh I forgot to mention there is an armed guard at the door ready to evict anyone who breaks the rules.  As the play evolves the characters  reveal how far they will go to secure that top job.  The tension rises to almost breaking point as the clock ticks down to zero.  Everyone on stage is superbly cast and the technical crew are brilliant.  This piece of drama is what all amateur theatre is all about.  It is not possible to mention anyone individually as everyone is important in this incredible piece of theatre.  One person I must mention is Mark Walker who has adapted this piece from a film and for his superb direction.  Congratulations to everyone taking this “EXAM” – you have all passed!

Nanette Lovell (Deputising for Caroline Jervis, Regional Representative, NODA East Midlands, District 7

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK

Just returned from watching Bonkers Theatrical production of “Exam”. One of the most powerful pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long while. Such a talented cast, well written script, great staging and effects, can’t praise it highly enough. If you ever get an opportunity to see one of their shows, run don’t walk. You won’t be disappointed!!

Such a powerful piece of theatre. The set magnificent. How clever was it on the amateur stage. Well done to all the cast.

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STAND & DELIVER

25th to 27th Oct 2012

The Cast

Vivien Witherington  – Jane Walker.  Clive Witherington  – Lester Cooke.  Lizzie Meadows – Julie Paris.  Eric Meadows – Alan Galway.  Trish Meadows – Ashleigh Hammond.  Michelle Greenwood – Rachel Compton.  Mrs Greenwood – Kate Long.  Nicola Ward – Emma Legg.  Kevin Ward – Seb Goss.  Nurse Lindsay Walker – Leisa Cooke.  Sister Mitchell – Pam Dee.  Dr Mathers – Mark Walker.  Dot – Kaz Coles.  Brenda – Sally Gore.

The Story

This extremely funny play takes a ‘behind the scenes’ look into the world of the maternity ward. Join sex-mad nurse Lindsay Walker, and the four ladies on C Ward. The patients are : Vivien Withrington whose husband forgot to pay the private health insurance; Lizzie who has been caught out in the change of life; Nicola who gets confused easily and whose baby will have to match the soft furnishings in her house, and Michelle, whose only mistake was drinking alcopops and being 16. Three of these four have the husbands they deserve, who each tries to help his wife during the last few hours before ‘the big push’ in the only way they know best – by being a man, and either not being there, or retiring as often as possible to the TV Room. Michelle though, has her mum – a domineering matriarch who is desperate that the baby is adopted to prevent the shame of having to reveal that her daughter is an unmarried mother. The delivery rooms are full and so Vivien (who insisted on delivering in the birthing pool at the private ‘Woodlands’ nursing home) together with Nicola have to deliver in their beds on the ward, during which Sister Mitchell and Nurse Walker show their compassionate side. Through all this, the two domestics (Dot and Brenda) provide a down-to-earth patter of comfort to the labouring mothers, and barbed wit to the hospital staff.

NODA Review

Stand and Deliver – a modern play set in a hospital maternity ward – follows the tumultuous event of pregnancy during its final stages of four women, each typeset to represent various social cultural strands. Nicola, played by Emma Legg, is the stereotypical blonde bimbo, whose only wish is that her child-to-be is a girl, and matches in with current house décor. Julie Paris plays Lizzie, a mother of numerous children who, one would have thought, was past the child-bearing age. Then we have Michelle, played by Rachel Compton. She’s 16, and, after a one night stand, her life seems non-existant, especially with her mother, Mrs Greenwood played by Kate Long, demanding that her child be given up for adoption. Finally, we have the atypical upper-class snob, Vivien, played by Jane Walker, who’s only concern is that her husband forgot to pay the private health insurance. The four main characters are supported by their partners – or in case of Michelle, her conservative mother – a highly sexed ward nurse; a boisterous, yet comical ward sister; and the ward cleaners – two callous and work-shy gossips whose only interest lies in more overtime.The hilarious goings-on in this maternity ward contained all the necessary fun for a frolicsome evening. British comedy at its best, Director Mark Walker deserves a massive applaud. Laughter after laughter, the cast portrayed their characters to ‘a tee’. A special ‘well done’ must be given to all four mothers-to-be, as, without their expose to the real life challenges of child birth, the play would not have held its thread. Nurse Walker also deserves a special mention. The quality of her acting skills were superb, she managed to render her character with natural ease, and she showed her great stage prowess in voice and action. The set was built to an extremely high standard. A pat on the back to all involved. Diction could not be faulted, and props used worked well. Lighting was also well executed, and the play flowed in a continuous way synonymous with professional theatre. Overall, a highly entertaining show solidified by a highly talented cast. I would hope that one day, Stand and Deliver will take its final ovation on a professional stage. This evening’s performance being plainly flawless, I look forward to seeing more of Mark Walker’s direction in the future.

Ben Archibald (Deputising for Caroline Jervis, Regional Representative, NODA East Midlands, District 7

Independant Review

If Carlsberg did comedy plays…….. I cannot remember seeing such a brilliantly funny play as Stand and Deliver. From first to last every scene was littered with hilarious one-liners, running jokes and excellent visual comedy. As in most comedies there was also some very moving scenes that impacted very well on the audience. Set in a maternity ward the story revolves around the impending births of 4 babies whose respective mothers came from a wide social spectrum. Jane Walker, as Vivien, gave a very good performance and the ‘change of character’ required during the piece was excellently handled. Rachel Compton, as the very young mother-to-be Michelle, showed just the right balance between needing to grow up fast and the naivety of a teenager. Kate Long, as Michelle’s social climbing ‘horrified by what the neighbours will say’ mother gave a strong performance that had the audience’s hackles up from her first entrance!  Julie Paris’ portrayal of mother of 5, Lizzie, was heart warming, funny and ultimately incredibly moving. Emma Legg yet again proved what an excellent, versatile actress she is, as she played the ‘I am doing it by the book’ Nicola. Her description of the sexual prowess of her husband and the subsequent reactions were stomach hurting funny!! Leisa Cooke’s Nurse Walker was played with her usual aplomb and it was good to see her in a role that showed her good understanding of timing and delivery of comedy lines. She made a perfect foil for the old fashioned Matron role, Sister Mitchell, played sincerely by Pam Dee, and the near the knuckle (well actually they were more ‘in the bone’ than near it) scenes with Dr Mathers, played by Mark Walker, were superb. The expectant fathers – Clive, (Lester Cooke) Kevin (Seb Goss) and Eric (Alan Galway) were played very well, particularly in the waiting room scene where each actor gave some classic comedy performances. Last, but certainly not least, Kaz Coles, as ward cleaner Dot, literally got a belly laugh with every line! Ably assisted by her work partner Brenda, played by Sally Gore, theses characters stole every scene they were in – comic timing to perfection!! Another well received play from the Bonkers team, led by Director Mark Walker, that had the whole audience in fits of laughter throughout.

Jonathan Reynolds

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LIVE!

10th to 12th May 2012

The Cast

Katy Courbett – Leisa Cooke.  Meagan – Kate Long.  Rex – Ian Stark.  Don Hellman – David Mander.  Tom – John Stevens.  Advertising Woman – Jenny Tymon.  Advertising Man – Andre Anthony.  Plummy – Pam Dee.  Goth Girl – Heather Smith.  Cancer Man – Andre Anthony.   Army Dude – Jamie Rae.  Counter Attack Host – Julie Paris.  Mara – Donna Hewitt.  Counter Attack Guest – Pam Dee.  Jewel Jenson – Sophie Gibson.  Brad Prince – Seb Goss.  Candy – Emma Walker.  Kelly – Alexandra Underwood.  Byron Boyd – Jonathan Cook.  Pablo Rodriguez – Mark Hanson.  Abalone – Ruth Bowe.  Trevor – Paul Whiteman.  Rick Morgan – Lester Cooke.  Rick’s Wife – Jane Walker.  Ricky – Zak Hewitt.  Mr Blair – Jon Reynolds.  Controller – Paul Whiteman.  Buck Conrad – Alan Galway.  Camera Man – Jamie Rae.  Krista Diamond – Alexandra Underwood.  Announcer – Steve Patrick.  Pablo’s Mother – Kaz Coles.

The Story

In a world where reality and entertainment are continuously colliding, Live! follows ABN network president Katy Courbet and her team as inspiration strikes to create the most daring reality program ever. The show is Russian Roulette, network style, with contestants competing for five million dollars on-air, complete with a loaded gun. Live! examines the competitive and often gut-wrenching world of television production, where everyone from the crew to the contestants to the network brass becomes engulfed in a ratings battle where questions of morality and ethics lead to a dark, sick and unforgettable outcome.

NODA Review

Well I must admit that I have never been to a world premiere of any kind of production and I entered the theatre with some trepidation.  I knew that “LIVE” had been a film and that Mark Walker had been given permission to write a stage version of this dark piece of drama and this is exactly what he and his co-writer Leisa Cooke produced – and how!  The piece starts off in the office of a TV company in the USA where the executives and pondering on how to come up with a reality show to top all reality shows – “Russian Roulette” was suggested and immediately discarded for obvious reasons! However Katy Courbet, the president of the TV station was determined to get this show networked and this is exactly what she did.  What about contestants – would anyone ever come forward?  No problems there – all kinds of humanity turned up with the hope of being a winner – 5 million dollars being the prize for the lucky ones – the unfortunate one getting zero. We sat through the auditions and heard the reasons why these individuals were prepared to risk their lives. This was very cleverly staged with a camera man filming the auditions with close ups and giving us close-ups by siting two TV screens either side of the stage.  A brilliant touch of theatre.  So the contestants are selected – all legal difficulties overcome – the tension is beginning to build – end of Act 1.  During the interval the stage had been transformed into a TV studio – the contestants (all dressed in white) were on the set accompanied by various members of their families and friends. The clock ticks and transmission time gets nearer.  Friends and family are asked to leave the studio and take their seats in the audience.  The TV executives retire to the production and viewing area.  The host of the show  arrives along with his glamorous assistant complete with the gun. The host loads the gun with a live silver bullet – the name of the first contestant is selected – he  is handed the gun, places it to his head and pulls the trigger.  Throughout all of this the camera is running and we see the face of the contestant in close up.  Strong stuff – well you ain seen nothing yet!  The tension in the audience is almost unbearable  – there are six contestants  – have we really got to go through this again, and again and again……..  To reveal more would ruin the play but there are quite a few more twists which the audience has to endure before curtain down.  This production was one of the most incredible pieces of theatre I have ever seen.  Every character was so carefully cast and perfect for the roles they had to play.  In a piece like this it is very difficult to name any individuals as everyone was quite simply brilliant – however I feel I  must mention Leisa Cooke and “Katy”, Ian Stark as her trainee “Rex” and Ruth Bowe as one of the contestants “Abalone” .  The quality of acting and direction was incredible – the audience felt that they knew all of those contestants as real people.  I cannot praise this production highly enough.  Congratulations to Mark Walker for having the courage to mount such a production.   This piece of theatre deserves to be produced by other amateur companies – if they dare!   In his programme notes, Mark tells the audience to “sit back, relax and enjoy tonight’s production”.  Mark you should have been sitting in the audience with us – no way could we sit back and relax – we were all on the edge of our seats!!  Many, many congratulations to everyone involved with “LIVE” – it did everything it said in the advert – quite, quite brilliant.

Nanette Lovell
East Midlands Councillor

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THE AUDITION

14th & 15th Oct 2011

The Cast

Stella – Leisa Cooke.  Lauren – Jane Walker.  Stage Manager – Alan Galway.  2nd Girl – Kay Patterson.

The Story

Lauren is like most wannabe actresses – she wants to be famous, and to be famous you have to suffer the audition process. So when she attends an audition for a ‘must have’, career building part, little does she know that the Director, Stella, has very strong views about how an audition should be conducted; about how the person auditioning should be tested and what should and should not be said. Stella is about to push Lauren to her mental, physical, emotional and ethical limits. Each of her auditions lasts for a complete day, and they are very much one to one.

Close to her breaking point, Lauren is subjected to alcohol, drugs and mind games as part of the audition process, all so that Stella can find out the answer to one question. How far will an actress go to get the part?

This powerful new drama is hard hitting and spiky, both suggestive and revealing; an insight into the mindsets of the examiner and the examined.

NODA Review

I must confess that I had never heard of a play called “The Audition”. I knew it was a two-hander about an audition but that was about all – oh yes not suitable for under 16 year olds due to content! Well we have all experienced all sorts of auditions but never, ever one like this!. A simple enough story with Lauren, a wannabe actress, arriving for an audtion,convinced if she lands this role she will be famous and is willing to suffer the audition process to gain the part. And suffer she does – along with the rest of the audience. The director of the play auditions one candidate each day and the audition takes all day. This audition comprises alcohol, drugs and mind games and has the audience on the edge of their seats practically from curtain up. The two actresses are Leisa Cooke (Stella the Director) and Jane Walker (Lauren the actress) and what incredible performances they both gave.It is a very brave company to stage such a hard-hitting and spiky production which is both suggestive and revealing – an insight into the mindsets of the examiner and the examined.The two actresses were quite simply incredible. The intense rehearsal period lasting three months must have taken over he lives of Leisa and Jane not to mention Mark Walker, the director. Be assured it was worth every second.
Congratulations to the three of you for allowing us, the audience, to experience such an emotional evening of theatre. I would urge other companies to take a look at this play (if you dare!) This is truly amateur theatre at its very, very best

Nanette Lovell

Regional Councillor. NODA East Midlands

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OF MICE AND MEN

26th to 28th May 2011

The Cast

Lennie – Mark Walker.  George – Alan Galway.  Slim – Lester Cooke.  Candy – David Wicks.  Curly’s Wife – Leisa Cooke.  Curly – Sam Holbird.  Crooks – Greg Ottley.  Carlson – Steve Hough.  Whit – Jon Baish.  The Boss – Andre Anthony.  The Dog – Jake.

The Story

Of Mice And Men is one of the greatest tales of the last century, both in moralistic storytelling and personal acheivement in the real world. It was written by John Steinbeck in 1937 and revolves around the difficult lives of migrant ranch workers George Milton and Lennie Small who travel around depresion torn California looking to earn their keep. George and Lennie travel from ranch to ranch together, an act in itself uncommon during a time when men often looked out only for themselves, in a bid to “Work up a stake” with which they can settle down and live a better life together. The quick witted and cautious George often ends up looking out for Lennie. The giant’s vast physical strength and limited mental capabilities often lead to situations where the men have to flee for their lives. After another similar episode they arrive at a ranch near Soledad, South East of Salinas in California.They are taken in and impress their fellow workers, particularly Lennie who’s physical prowess means he can carry far greater loads and perform physical tasks much more easily than any other man they have seen. Their dream of owning their own piece of landappears to be edging closer as the eldest member of the ranch, “swamper” Candy, offers to pitch in his savings to help buy their own place in return for them allowing him to live there too. But dissaster strikes as the promiscuous wife of the ranch owners son, Curly, begins to get her claws into Lennie which leads to the big friendly giant killing her in a panic after a mix up while he was stroking her hair. With the staff of the ranch out in a mob and screaming for Lennie’s blood, George faces a moral dilemma that will change his life forever.

Independant Review

Bonkers Theatrical production of John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 play, based on a novel by the same author, was brought to the stage superbly by Director Mark Walker. The simple, but effective, stage set was complemented well by a concise lighting plot, both of which enhanced a very well thought out production. The clarity of each set helped the audience know exactly where the action was taking place.

I particularly liked the brave direction in the bunk room where the necessary pauses were used to great effect in many places (something that a lot of directors would have fought shy of, such is the demand for pace in general these days.) Also the horseshoe game played off set was cleverly done.

The production stayed true to the play’s core needs and benefitted from some fine acting. The opening scene between George (Alan Galway) and Lennie (Mark Walker) established the characters very well indeed and these characters were consistent to the end. The characterisations for the slow lumbering Lennie and for the caring but direct George came over in abundance and I felt a great sympathy for both characters. Mark gave an inspiring performance which immediately had the audience on his side. Alan’s George was crammed with emotion in every scene, whether bemoaning his life because of his need to care and look after Lennie’s interests or in the poignant passages of dialogue as he tended Lennie’s needs to hear about their dream of having a place of their own. Lester Cooke, as Slim, gave an excellent performance with bundles of charisma. His manner and delivery was superb and he managed to hold the necessary gravity to show that he was in control of the variance of emotion required for the role. David Wicks (Candy) kept his physicality very well and I always saw the frail, frightened man whose future looked bleak. Leisa Cooke yet again excelled, she managed to bring to the part of Curley’s Wife (any guesses to why she was never named in the novel?) a tremendous amount of inner turmoil. From disliking her character as she used her sexuality to intimidate the labourers to feeling sympathy for her lonely plight Leisa brought every ounce of emotion to the audience and the scene with Lennie prior to the ‘unwise discussion’ on Lennie’s need to be tactile that culminated in her death, was beautifully portrayed by both actors. During this scene Leisa’s timing and delivery regarding the missed Hollywood opportunities and the need for her Mother to approve of her life choices were brilliant. Jon Baish gave a fine performance as Whit, his accent and demeanour was wonderfully consistent and vibrant, particularly when he was describing his forthcoming night out at the parlour. I very much believed Greg Ottley as Crooks, he mastered the ‘continually defensive and contemptuous nature’ of the character which gave more impact to his eventual invitation to Lennie of sitting with him in his room. Greg also mastered the ‘back injury’ stance consistently. Other supporting roles including Sam Holbird as Curley, Steve Hough as Carlson and Andre Anthony as The Boss helped this production towards being successful in its staging.

Overall the piece was collectively performed very well and congratulations to Mark for managing to direct as well as perform, in both capacities I feel he excelled.

Staging a classic is always risky but, in my opinion, Bonkers pulled it off with aplomb.

Jonathan Reynolds

NODA Review

Thank you for your invitation to review Bonkers recent production of “Of Mice & Men”, a gritty adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic book which has for some time become a set piece read for many GCSE English Literature students.

Of Mice and Men is set against a backdrop of America’s Great Depression in California in the 1930’s. Two men move from farm to farm in search of work. George is a fast talking man of the road and extremely protective of his close companion Lennie. Lennie on the other hand is big and strong, totally unaware of his own strength but he has the mind of a child. George and Lennie are determined to buy a small farm of their own after years of earning a living as itinerant workers.

Their dreams of a new life, however, are undone when Lennie, all good heart and pure feeling, accidentally kills the flirtatious wife of the ranch owner’s son, Curley, nicely portrayed as a nasty piece of work by Sam Holbird. The cast of ranch hands (Steve Hough, Lester Cooke, David Wicks, Greg Ottley, John Baish and Andre Anthony as The Boss), each found their own character identity and played their supportive roles with confidence. However, Of Mice and Men is very much about George and Lennie and Alan Galway and Mark Walker both played their respective roles with great conviction. Lennie can so easily be overplayed by inexperienced amateur actors and the role of the ‘retarded giant’ can quickly degenerate into caricature and become embarrassing for the audience. Mark Walker did well not to let this happen and was very believable with his child like innocence. I would have perhaps liked to have seen a little more of a contrast between the childlike, frightened and the wild, angry persona of Lennie but generally this was a convincing and very strong performance.

Leisa Cooke acted the role of Curly’s wife with her usual understated reliability and commanded the stage when she was on, however I felt that the characterisation in this production lacked the ‘trailor trash’ image that the script demanded and therefore drifted somewhat from the original intentions of the author. In the same vein I felt that the dramatic ending with Lennie turning to face George’s gun a split second before the shot was also not in keeping with the original piece. In the novel Steinbeck makes it clear that Lennie dies in blissful ignorance demonstrating the love of his close companion.

On a couple of occasions, particularly the ranch hand scenes, the piece could have benefitted from a pick up in pace as the dialogue had a tendency to drag. Also whilst a very brave move of the director to build the suspense when Carlson takes Candy’s dog Jake outside to shoot him, the resultant, intentional silence of nearly 3 minutes left the audience feeling that the actors had in fact forgotten their lines or were anxiously awaiting a gunshot that wasn’t happening.

This would perhaps have been softened if ad-libbed dialogue of the ranch hands had started earlier and their reactions had been aimed towards the direction of the ranch house door instead of into the wings.

The overall look of the piece was excellent. A simple but very effective set was complimented by good lighting design and authentic props.

On the whole this was a powerful piece of theatre, well executed (if you pardon the pun) and one that many amateur companies would shy away from due to the complexity of the piece and the demands of the two leading performers. You should be very proud of your achievements.

Please pass on my congratulations to the cast.

Neil Richardson

Regional Representative. NODA East Midlands – District 7

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STAGS AND HENS

14th to 16th Oct 2010

The Cast

Dave – Gaby BaciuMaureen – Louise HoughRoadie – Jon Baish.  Billy – Steve Hough.  Bernadette – Leisa Cooke.  Linda – Caroline Jenkins.  Robbie – Lester Cooke.  Peter – Neil Richardson.  Frances – Pam Dee.  Kav – Roy Taylor.  Eddy – Alan Galway.  Carol – Jenny Tymon.

The Story

The play focuses on a group of girls and local lads who venture out for a night of pre-marriage stag and hen party celebrations. The action takes place in the Gents and Ladies loos of a tacky night club, where Linda and Dave (bride and groom-to-be) have decided, unbeknownst to each other, to hold their stag and hen parties. Linda runs into her old boyfriend, Peter, a musician with a single climbing up the pop charts, but who is back in town on this particular night – playing a gig at the club. Whilst entering the club, Dave, in a drunken stupor, becomes ill from the indian curry he ate (washed down with a copious mix of Asti Spumante and Southern Comfort) and spends the remainder of the evening (and the play) in the Gents, with his head down the lavatory bowl! His mates, including Kas, and gang leader Eddy decide to take the law into their own hands when they suspect that Linda has developed a crush on Peter and may be having second thoughts about marrying Dave. Chaos ensues in this very coarse evening of fun.

NODA Review

Thank you for your invitation to Kevin to review Stags and Hens and for the warm hospitality extended to myself on the night as I deputised for him. This was, as many audience members commented, an enjoyable performance of a brilliant and very funny script which drew many laughs from the audience throughout the performance. The Direction (Mark Walker) showed strong ideas for the contrasting characters in both teams of Stags and Hens who interacted well. The setting of the piece was fairly simplistic with effective use of lights to highlight the relevant performance space within the toilets and the corridor outside, although there were several dark patches in the corridor which meant some loss of facial expression and which could have been solved by raising the FoH lights slightly to enable the light to fall on the faces of the actors. I was surprised to find it had not been set in Liverpool as my understanding of the piece is that the action takes place in a Liverpool Nightclub and I did feel that the references to Peter moving away to London were somewhat lost as the cast were all using southern/cockney accents. Willy Russell tends to script the text of his pieces using colloquialisms and language choices which lend themselves to the Scouse accent and I did feel at a couple of times that some of the humour was lost by displacing the piece. However I do fully understand in amateur performances that accents can be testing and it may well have been that as director you felt using a more familiar accent would enable the cast to deliver the lines more effectively. It was set in effectively designed toilets which were well constructed and whose décor were distressed in a very believable fashion and which immediately set the scene. A couple of small issues with the set were the sink and (a personal issue!) the symmetry of the cubicles. I know (or rather I understand) that in male toilets there are less cubicles however I did feel the off-centre setting of the cubicles leaving the males with less stage space than the girls made positioning in the male side more awkward than it need have been. The sink, although well thought out in terms of half-and-half paintwork was set at such an angle that actors on both sides were having to approach the sink from the side which looked unnatural and, particularly on the ladies side, were using a mirror apparently set sideways on to the sink. The toilets were extremely effective, however please remind Maureen to lift the lid when she is going to heave her guts! Costumes for the majority of the characters were well-conceived, particularly for the girls who transported me back to my pre-teenage (oh alright!) and teenage years of the 80s with crimped hair, bright eye-shadow and rah-rah skirts and the costumes of the males highlighted the different characters in evidence. The costume and wig for Peter was somewhat comedic, reflected in the audience’s reaction on his first entrance which rather detracted from the idea that his character is that of an up-and-coming and ‘cool’ pop star, really the straight male character of the show. There were a number of strong performances from a cast that contained several strong performers in their own right however I must single out for mention Lester Cooke for his outstanding performance demonstrating great pace, wide range of tonal inflections and a strong and utterly believable characterisation. Leisa Cooke also gave an extremely strong performance in the role of Bernie with a hard-edge that contrasted beautifully with the other girls and an excellent range of light and shade throughout. Mark, I am sure you are very proud of what you achieved with your production of this funny play and the praise I have no doubt you received from your audiences. Please be so kind as to pass on my gratitude to all those involved in the production and thank them on my behalf for a very enjoyable night out.

 Kindest regards,

Anita Walker, deputising for Kevin Sheen – Regional Representative NODA East Midlands – District 7

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ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST

12th to 15th May 2010

The Cast

R P McMurphy -Alan GalwayNurse Ratched- Julie FutcherBilly Bibbit – Jon Baish.  Dale Harding – David Wicks.  Chief Bromden – Mark Walker.  Martini – Neil Richardson.  Cheswick – Paul Whiteman.  Scanlon – Lester Cooke.  Ruckley – Steve Hough.  Dr Spivey – Andre Anthony.  Aide Williams – Gaby BaciuAide Warren – Leisa CookeNurse Flinn – Anita Walker.  Candy Starr – Jane Walker.  Sandra – Suzanne Lewis.  Aide Turkle – Sam Holbird.

The Story

Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy, the swaggering, fun loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half Indian patient who understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them all imprisoned.
‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ is a powerful piece of theatre that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.

NODA Review

Firstly may I thank you for your invitation to come and review your production of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’. This was an absolute treat and the second time this year I have had the priviledge of witnessing a very professional performance from a Drama Group in my District. A very strong core cast kept their focus and character throughout and gave a performance befitting a bigger audience. Extremely well directed by Mark Walker, the show took the audience on a journey of highs and lows and, at times, made them feel guilty for laughing out loud. Very well done! The set was simple but effective, the lighting more so. The sound and voice-overs were clearly audible which i have found is not always the case in this venue. I can not, within the constraints of the normal NODA Report, pay tribute to each individual performer so I will comment on those who impressed that little bit more. Performers like Julie Futcher (Nurse Ratched) who was ‘caringly vindictive’ from start to finish but managed to portray her own mental frailties. Superb! Alan Galway (R. P. McMurphy) was excellent as the dominating but loveable, cocksure lead. Very well played. Paul Whiteman (Cheswick) was also worthy of mention for his portrayal though I think he tended to deliver his lines directly to the audience a little too often. David Wicks (Dale Harding), Neil Richardson (Martini) and Lester Cooke (Scanlon) all deserve praise for their focus and characterisation. Again, very well done to all. But, for me, it was Jon Baish (Billy Bibbit), Steve Hough (Ruckley) and Mark Walker (Cheif Bromden) who made the show that bit special. Jon’s performance as the stuttering Billy grew more impressive by the minute and was professional throughout. The same can be said for Steve’s portrayal of Ruckley. He only had four lines in the entire show but he very nearly stole it. Superb. Mark Walker gave a performance to be proud of. He engaged the audience in his early silence and endeared them to him when he ‘awoke’. Professional. What more can i say? I thoroughly enjoyed the show and would ask that you be so kind as to pass on my gratitude and genuine admiration to all those involed in the production and also say that I very much look forward to your next.

Kindest regards,

Kevin Sheen – Regional Representative NODA East Midlands – District 7

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BLOOD BROTHERS

13th to 18th July 2009

The Cast

Narrator – Mark Walker.  Mrs Johnston – Julie FutcherMrs Lyons – Pam DeeMickey – Alan Galway.  Eddie – Neil Richardson.  Linda – Jane Walker.  Swing – Jon Baish.

The Story

The story revolves around two boys, Mickey Johnston and Eddie Lyons, both from different backgrounds. One from a well off family, The Lyons’, and one from quite a poor family, The Johnston’s. The two boys become friends at the age of seven and we watch them grow into adults. But there is a secret that Mrs Johnston and Mrs Lyons hold. Eddie is the twin brother of Mickey, who was given away at birth to an infertile Mrs Lyons. As the two grow up they become very close and are even in love with the same girl, Linda. As they all grow older Mickey and Linda are married but, due to recession, Mickey becomes chronically depressed. He also believes Linda is having an affair with Eddie.
He then sets out on a mission to find his ‘friend’. Mrs Johnston and Linda hurry after him in a last ditch attempt to stop him killing his twin. Mrs Johnston finally tells the brothers the truth, but with tragic consequences.

NODA Review

Superb, absolutely superb. From start to finish this emotion charged performance exuded professionalism. It was extremely well directed, extremely well performed and built methodically to a climax which left many of the audience in tears; and if you create that sense of belief in your audiences’ mind you know you have a good show on your hands. Though accents tended to waiver in some scenes it would be churlish to view this in any negative way. The show was a joy to watch. The lighting plan, setting and direction worked extremely well together and created moods that expertly matched the plot unfolding on stage. It is not unusual to view a show and see one or two of the performers stand out above the others. This show was not like that. From the brooding, but not overly sinister, portrayal of The Narrator (Mark Walker) to the increasingly neurotic, eventually psychotic portrayal of Mrs Lyons (Pam Dee) the actors took their characters, made them their own and delivered each one in turn to a very appreciative audience.

It is probably easier to sum it up like this:

Eddie – Neil Richardson; Excellent

Linda – Jane Walker; Excellent

Mickey – Alan Galway; Excellent

Mrs Johnston – Julie Futcher; Excellent

Mrs Lyons – Pam Dee; Excellent

Narrator – Mark Walker; Excellent

Swing – Jon Baish; Excellent

You have set yourselves a benchmark that may be difficult to maintain, however, it will be an absolute delight to see you try. In closing may I ask you to please pass on my thanks to the entire company for a thoroughly entertaining afternoon and I very much look forward to your next production.

Kind regards,

Kevin Sheen – Regional Representative NODA East Midlands District 7

Evening Telegraph Review

Congratulations to Director Mark Walker, who also gave a beautifully underplayed, yet powerful performance as Narrator, moving in and out of the shadows, bringing a palpable sense of doom as the story unfolded to the most tragic of consequences. An unholy deal struck between desperate Mrs Johnston, played to absolute beleivable perfection by Julie Futcher and the neurotic and childless Mrs Lyons, played with a real sense of anguish by Pam Dee, wreaks havoc with the lives of the twins. Mickey (a lovable rogue) is beautifully characterised by Alan Galway, and Eddie, (the sensitive and refined brother) played with wide eyed admiration by Neil Richardson gave a contrast between the twins’ charcters which worked exceptionally well. The catalyst for the ulimate disaster of the piece is their love for the lovely Linda, saucily played by Jane Walker. Each actor was challenged to portray the aging process, from the exuberance, optimism and physical portrayal of childhood to adulthood, and succeeded. Mickey’s anguish at realising his dysfunctional life could easily have had the privileged ease of Eddie’s, was heart wrenching as was each mother’s portrayal of the burden of their guilty secret which defined each person’s life. The cast was completed by Jon Baish, playing a variety of characters to complete what was truly an ensemble piece of theatre. Funny, moving, thought provoking and enhanced with the simplest of sets, props, atmospheric lighting and authentic costumes, this is a thoroughly enjoyable production that deserves full houses at each performance.

Karen Coles & Jonathan Reynolds.

Audience Feedback

Myself and my family came to see your show yesterday evening at The Castle. This was my 14th time watching Blood Brothers be it the musical or the play either in the West End or as far away as Germany. Hand on heart, your show has to have been the best performance I have seen. It was outstanding. So a big well done to all of you, thank you for a fantastic evening out.

Kind regards, Claire Phillips (Wellingborough)

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Awards

BLOOD BROTHERS

13th to 18th July 2009

Winner. Best Drama. NODA District 7

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ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST

12th to 15th May 2010

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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OF MICE AND MEN

26th to 28th May 2011

Winner. Nanette Lovell Drama Award. NODA East Midlands

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OF MICE AND MEN

26th to 28th May 2011

Winner. Best Poster. NODA East Midlands

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THE AUDITION

14th to 15th October 2011

Nominated. Nanette Lovell Drama Award. NODA East Midlands

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LIVE

10th to 12th May 2012

Winner. Nanette Lovell Drama Award. NODA East Midlands

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LIVE

10th to 12th May 2012

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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STAND AND DELIVER

25th to 27th October 2012

Winner. Best Play. NODA District 7

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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

27th to 29th June 2013

Winner. Best Play. NODA District 7

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BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

27th to 29th June 2013

Nominated. Nanette Lovell Drama Award. NODA East Midlands

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FROZEN

18th to 19th October 2013

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS

8th to 10th May 2014

Winner. Nanette Lovell Drama Award. NODA East Midlands

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GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS

8th to 10th May 2014

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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BONNIE & CLYDE

19th to 20th September 2014

Winner. Best Play. NODA District 7

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BOWING OUT

12th to 14th November 2015

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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LUCKY ME

5th to 7th May 2016

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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LUCKY ME

5th to 7th May 2016

Nominated. Nanette Lovell Drama Award. NODA East Midlands

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SEX CELLS

28th to 30th Sept 2017

Nominated. Best Play. NODA District 7

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Script Publishing

Winner of NODA’s Best Play for East Midlands 2012.

A play in 2 acts for a large cast.

Written by Mark Walker & Leisa Cooke. Based on an original screenplay by Bill Guttentag.

The Story

In a world where reality and entertainment are continuously colliding, Live! follows ABN network president of programming, Katy Courbet and her team, as inspiration strikes to create the most daring reality program ever. The show is Russian Roulette, network style, with contestants competing for five million dollars on-air, complete with loaded guns. Live! examines the competitive and often gut-wrenching world of television production, where everyone from the crew to the contestants to the network brass becomes engulfed in a ratings battle where questions of morality and ethics lead to a darkly humorous and unforgettable outcome.

Total Cast, 32. 15 Female, 16 Male, 1 Child (Male)

Live! is written as a very technical piece of theatre requiring multi media genres. Live performance, Pre recorded performance and Live on stage camera feed. It also requires a large fully automated revolve (Available for hire).

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Licensing & Performance Rights

All scripts licenced by Bonkers Theatrical are fully protected by International Copyright Laws. According to Copyright Law, no public performance, reading or other use of a protected play may be given without prior witten authorisation from Bonkers Theatrical. Any unauthorised performance or other use of these scripts may constitute an infringement of Copyright Law and subject to legal action.

Please make your application well in advance of your planned production dates to make sure of script availability. Do not make production plans until you have recieved written confirmation that the rights are available, as from time to time it is necessary to restrict or even withdraw rights of certain scripts for production. If you decide to stage a production you will need to arrange a performing license by contacting us via the Contact Page.

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