Review: Farce is just the tonic for cold winter blues

Teesdale Mercury LAUGHTER is the best medicine and something members of the Gainford Drama Club cast were able to dole out in spades when they performed their latest production, the classic comedy caper, Lend Me A Tenor, at the village’s Academy Theatre.The 1986 Ken Ludwig play is an old-fashioned farce, More »

A Kick In The Baubles

Originally written by Gordon Steel for the Hull Truck theatre company A Kick in the Baubles is an edgy piece, combining the family chaos of Season’s Greetings with the dramatic discomfort of Abigail’s Party. There is humour, mixed in with a fair amount of tension and unease before an ending More »

Party Piece – Getting in the party spirit

Gainford Drama Club selected Party Piece to celebrate 70 years of the amateur dramatics club, and you have to admire the sheer work-rate and athleticism of the cast in this Richard Harris comedy which is riddled with chaotic situations. At times the humour is farcical and takes some swallowing.  The More »

The Accrington Pals

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War Gainford Drama Club performed 'The Accrington Pals' - an excellent choice to commemorate and remember all those who lost their lives in that most devastating of military campaigns. So many of the young men sent to fight More »

The Ladykillers

The classic 1955 black comedy film, The Ladykillers, was adapted for the stage by Graham Linehan (co-creator of Father Ted) in 2011.  It may or may not be the greatest of the Ealing comedies, but it is certainly the one that immediately suggests itself as theatrical. The story remains the More »

Not Now Darling

Not Now Darling is a traditional farce with all the regular hallmarks – people hiding in cupboards, spouses coming and going continuously and a wealth of mistaken identities and innuendo. Firmly based in the 1960s, the script by Ray Clooney and John Chapman reminds one of the “Are You Being More »

And Then There Were None

Ten strangers are summoned for a long weekend to the remote Soldier Island off the coast of Devon, under variously different pretexts. Characters arrive individually and in pairs, having travelled to the island to see Mr and Mrs Owens; the hosts of this group holiday excursion. They are assisted Fred More »

Spring and Port Wine

Spring and Port Wine is a domestic drama, set in the late 1960s, which centres on the attempts of Rafe Crompton (Allan Jones) to hold his family together by being a strict disciplinarian. He wants to retain old-fashioned values while his children, noticing that outside the world is changing rapidly, More »

Will You Still Love Me In The Morning?

Gainford Drama Club’s spring production of the Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner farce was certainly one to remember. From the first night to the final performance the company was almost word-perfect and handled the fast-paced, sometimes frenetic action with aplomb.  The audience were chuckling from start to finish.  The play More »

The Game’s Afoot

(or Holmes for the Holidays) Gainford Drama Club’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” (or Holmes For The Holidays) is part mystery, part melodrama, part comedy, part farce as well as good, well-crafted entertainment. You certainly need a scorecard to keep track of who is dead, could be dead More »

Play Readings

In order to decide on our Spring production we will be undertaking a couple of play readings in the Green room of the Academy Theatre on Monday, 8th December.

Allan Jones will be directing the spring production, play and dates to be arranged, so he will need to know who will be available.  If you would like to be considered for a part in the next play but can’t make the reading, please let me or Allan know.

Also, the following Monday (15th), same time and place, we are having our Christmas get-together, with a play reading, mulled wine and mince pies.  Again, let us know if you can’t make it!

If you are interested and would like to become involved with Gainford Drama Club, why not contact us and come along.


The committee would like to invite all our members to come along on the 4th September at 8pm, (after the comm.meeting), to discuss the possibility of producing a third play end of January/February 2015.  As we now have lots of new members we are keen to keep up interest and get everyone involved.  The idea would be to cast a play end of October.

We need your thoughts on this so please come along.  Let me know if you can’t make it but would like to be involved.

Summer News

At the recent AGM our chairman gave a summary of the club year. Several play readings had been held, all with very good attendances, which resulted in two successful productions being staged, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, abridged and directed by our chairman and 3 one-act plays from Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 series directed by Allan Jones.  There were good houses for both productions and all new members who had joined during the year were able to make their acting debuts.

Several social events had been held during the year culminating in our President’s 90th birthday party held in the theatre and attended by many past and current members. Enid Burdon has been a member since the inception of the club in 1949 and is still a great supporter.

The chairman had made good progress in updating the mailing list and intended to continue with the responsibility of sending out the forms, both postal and electronic.   She thanked Richard Stephenson and Viv and Mike Brown for their work in printing and dealing with the forms and the tickets and Allan Jones for his work in setting up and maintaining the website. Paul Richardson presented his financial report for the year which had been audited by David Maughan and they were both thanked for their contribution.

Play readings were being held in The Green Room, the next one being on Monday 30th June and new members would be made very welcome.  The next production to be staged at the end of November would be directed by Lawrence Chandler and Fiona Minay and it was intended that a casting meeting would be held before the summer holidays with rehearsals commencing at the beginning of September.

It was noted that the Spring Production next year would be our 150th, the longevity of the club is a splendid achievement not possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of members.

In conclusion our chairman thanked the officers and committee for their help and support during the three years of her chairmanship and handed the meeting over to the incoming chairman John Lowery.


Tonight at 8:30

GAINFORD Drama Club’s spring production was three of Noel Coward’s one act plays from the set of ten from ‘Tonight at 8.30.’ The three they selected to perform where ‘Hands Across the Sea,’ ‘Fumed Oak’ and ‘Still Life.’ First produced in 1935, they certainly still retain their charm, humour and relevance today. The stories are very different and range from the comedy of mistaken identity in ‘Hands across the Sea.’ ‘Fumed Oak’ saw us meet three generations of the Gow family as their domestic tribulations are revealed. ‘Still Life’ completed the evening with the most recognisable of the three as it was the basis for Brief Encounter. Producing these three plays must have brought many challenges not least with the set and the cast not only playing more than one part, but playing them in different stories. The versatile set was quickly transformed into the three settings and the cast were excellent in each play. A special mention must go to John Chadwick, who appeared in all three plays, and appeared to relish the very different roles each play brought him. If you haven’t yet seen the Gainford Drama Club they are a group of high quality with a unique theatre space.

Spring News

Rehearsal are underway for our spring production.  Our director for this production, Allan Jones, has chosen three one-act plays from Noel Coward’s series Tonight at 8.30 although it has to be noted that we shall be starting the performance at 7.30 p.m. prompt!

You can read a brief synopsis of the plays on our What’s On page.  Ticket application forms will be sent out during the next few weeks and a link to the form will be appearing on the website.

The three plays are quite different and will give our actors the opportunity to show their range and abilities and for four new members to make their debuts.

We are very pleased to announce that our President and founder, Enid Burdon, will be celebrating her 90th birthday during the Spring production and we shall be asking friends and members to join us in the celebration after the performance on Saturday 5th April.  If you are a former club member and would like to attend the party please make sure you book your tickets for that night and join us afterwards – we shall be very pleased to see you.

Joan Hillery Robinson

GDC Chairman

6th February 2014

An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband – Gainford Drama Club [Teesdale Mercury November 2013]

WHEN it comes to Oscar Wilde my knowledge goes from The Importance of Being Earnest to The Happy Prince and Other Tales for children. But thanks to Gainford Drama Club I have now been introduced to An Ideal Husband. It has been brilliantly adapted by Chairman, Director and Producer Joan Hillery Robinson which has created a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.100_2511

From the curtain opening you know that a treat is in store as you are greeted with a visually stunning scene from the set to the costumes and the jewellery, which if you know the play does feature later in the story.
Although An Ideal Husband was first performed in 1895 the plot of political corruption and blackmail is timeless. The story revolves around Sir Robert Chiltern, Allan Jones, a respected politician whose marriage and career are threatened by attempts of blackmail by Mrs Cheveley, Jean McCann.100_2533

There are so many delightfully witty one liners, which are well delivered. It makes such a change to see a gentle comedy with an exciting plot so well performed. My favourite moments were the scenes between Lord Goring, Tom Brown and Mabel Chiltern, Emma Simpson. They were an absolute delight to watch and they certainly had some of the best lines between them. Emma Simpson had her characters mannerisms to perfection with a voice to match. This does not take away anything from the cast as a whole as the characterisation they produced was excellent and it was obvious they had put 110% into everything giving me the feeling that I really did spend an evening in the late 1800s.

An Ideal Husband was yet another brilliant production from Gainford Drama Club.

Autumn News 2013

Rehearsals are well underway for our autumn production An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.  This has been abridged for the drama club by our Chairman Joan Hillery Robinson who is also the director and producer.  Oscar Wilde may have approved of this as he said himself that he thought the play too long.  It is a witty story of romance, insider trading and scandal and was extremely popular with Victorian and Edwardian audiences running for over a hundred performances.

Many of the themes of An Ideal Husband were influenced by the situation Oscar Wilde found himself in during the early 1890s.  The play is about a hidden scandal, blackmail and the inability of a man to share his faults and failings with his wife.  Wilde’s own life with his wife Constance, seems never very far from the play.

The enduring popularity of the play is undoubtedly down to its wit and humour.  Wilde cleverly emphasises the hypocrisy of society, minor characters are an important vehicle for this theme constantly portrayed as two-faced, saying one thing one moment the turning round to say the exact opposite (to great comic effect).  For example, Lord Caversham exclaims near the end of the play that Mabel displays a great deal of common sense after earlier stating that ‘common sense is the privilege of our sex’.

The narrative of the play focuses on political corruption, the story of scandal in the life of a politician and the threat of press exposure is a theme which has had relevance in every decade over the last hundred years and will doubtless continue to do so.

October 2013

Murder in Play

Group plays to the audience [Teesdale Mercury April 2013]

Murder In Play Gainford Drama Club

MURDER in Play, as the title suggests, is a play within a play and is yet another stunning production from Gainford Drama Club.

The action takes place in rehearsals for Murder at Priorswell Manor and at first you may think you are in for an evening of completely over the lop characters until you realise that this is the play within the play.

The play though is a lot more .than Just a rehearsal for another play. It is about the people and their interactions in a theatre group.

The director Boris Smolensky tries to cope with his wife and his lover in the cast, as the egos of the cast shine through delightfully as they have obviously been performing together on various productions for a while.

Of course a murder is needed and as the play within the play goes through a few cast changes, the murder is unravelled with the help of the stage manager.

NewcomersIf all this sounds rather complicated, it wasn’t due to the excellent direction and acting.

I couldn’t pick out any individual performance they were all tremendous throughout.

If you didn’t manage to see Gainford Drama Club this time, I would highly recommend it for an evening of high quality entertainment.

A J Harrison



Hello everyone

I hope you have had a good weekend in spite of the cold weather.  I just wanted to give you some dates for your diary and remind you that tickets for Murder in Play by Simon Brett are going quickly now but there are still plenty left for the first night, the 18th April, when patrons can meet the cast and enjoy a glass of fizz following the performance.  There are also some tickets available for the last night, Saturday 27th April, so if you would like to attend the party which will again be held at John and Ronnie’s in Winston then send in your form or contact Viv or Mike.  Jan is providing the food for the party so you do not need to bring anything – just make a donation on the night.

We should like to thank Richard Stephenson for printing all the ticket application forms, over 500.  We are in the process of slimming down the mailing list and this time just over 100 forms were sent by email asking subscribers to link to the website and download the form – our thanks to Allan Jones for setting this up, effectively saving us at least £50 in this one mailing.  After the autumn production it is our intention to delete names from the list of those subscribers who have not ordered tickets for three consecutive productions unless they contact us to request otherwise.  They will be advised about this in the next mailing.

I have been busy editing Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband for the drama club as I should very much like to produce this play.  It is about political corruption so it is always topical!  It is now ready for a reading so I propose that we do this at John and Ronnie’s in Winston on Monday 20th May, starting prompt at 7.30 p.m.  Please come along if you can, drinks and sandwiches will be provided.

The other date you should note in your diary is the 2013 AGM which will be held on Thursday 20th June at 7.30 p.m. in the Academy Theatre.  Notices will be sent out by email to you and we shall be seeking two new committee members as Diana Peat and John Robinson will be retiring by rotation – nomination forms will be issued with the notice.

Don’t forget that our year end finishes on 31st May and subscriptions for the year 2013/14 are due in June – our treasurer will be collecting your subscriptions at the AGM but, if you have not already done so, the easiest way to ensure continued membership is to complete a standing order mandate – subscriptions remain at £5 per annum.

Many thanks

Joan Hillery-Robinson

Gainford Drama Club Chairman

‘Allo ‘Allo

Gainford Drama Club has a reputation for staging high quality productions and their most recent offering ‘Allo ‘Allo was no exception.  The play, written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, is based on their hugely popular TV series, and follows the adventures of René, the hapless café owner in war-torn occupied France, as he and his wife, Edith, struggle to keep for themselves a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis and endeavour to repatriate two British airmen with the help of the Resistance.Allo-Allo-3

This is a difficult play to stage even in a large theatre so to present this large cast play, eighteen players in total, with its frequent set changes on such a small stage proved quite a challenge, however, the scene changes were managed very smoothly by the airmen, played by Paul Richardson and John Robinson.  The role of René is pivotal and this was played very ably by John Chadwick.  Joan White as his wife Edith, was able to show her skill at singing and dancing during her cabaret performances which were clearly enjoyed by the audience and they were both well supported by waitresses Yvette and Mimi played by Maria Lowcock and Claire Bell. Special mention should be made of Maria’s performance as this was her acting debut and she shows much promise for the future.

It was good to see Paul Illingworth returning to the stage as the vain Capt. Alberto Bertorelli and his attempts to seduce Helga (Kate Nichols) in the back row of the cinema being thwarted by Herr Otto Flick (Tom Brown) disguised as an usherette provided one of the funniest scenes in the play.  Michelle ‘listen very carefully, I shall say this only once’ was played by Emma Simpson, making her debut on the Gainford stage, with a superb French accent which paralleled that of Crabtree (hilariously played by Allan Jones) the ‘poloceman’, who managed to keep up his “franglais” throughout the play – not an easy task.  Lawrence Chandler as Colonel Von Strohm, John Robinson as a very sinister looking General Von Schmelling, Michael Sillars as M. Leclerc and Chris Allock as Lieut. Gruber all gave accomplished performances in their supporting roles.  Lighting and sound effects were provided each night by John Lowery.

Allo-Allo-2The play was directed by Joan Hillery-Robinson, assisted by Ronnie Lowery and was a complete sell-out for the ten-night run which included a ‘charity’ night in support of Help For Heroes raising £1300 for the charity.