Newport Youngsters Share Stage with Vicar of Dibley

October 21, 2013
Bright sparks: the children all know the answers when Rev Geraldine Granger (Karen Davies) asks the questions while Alice (Rachel Fenwick) looks on. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Bright sparks: the children all know the answers when Rev Geraldine Granger (Karen Davies) asks the questions while Alice (Rachel Fenwick) looks on. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

 Schoolchildren from Newport are all set to tread the boards with TV’s ‘Vicar of Dibley’ as the stage version of the show comes to the Dolman Theatre.      

Twenty five youngsters from the children’s Dolman Theatre Works auditioned and eight were chosen to be in a scene set in a Sunday school run by the loveable but dim verger Alice Tinker, played by Rachel Fenwick.

The children of Dibley (left to right) Alex Haywood, Olivia Tune, Theo Bishop, Niamh Pitman and Caitlin Anderson. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

The children of Dibley (left to right) Alex Haywood, Olivia Tune, Theo Bishop, Niamh Pitman and Caitlin Anderson. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

“They are a lovely bunch of kids who are really excited about being in the play,” said director Rosie Bissex.

“In fact, they are so enthusiastic they are also helping with props and anywhere else they can lend a hand. I’m sure they’ll steal every scene they’re in!”

Olivia Tune practises her curtsey when she meets the new vicar (Karen Davies). (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Olivia Tune practises her curtsey when she meets the new vicar (Karen Davies). (Photo: Phil Mansell)

“It’s been great fun rehearsing the play,” said 12-year-old Olivia Tune who goes to Caerleon Comprehensive School.

“I have to do a curtsey when I meet the new vicar. We all love the TV series and are really enjoying being in the stage show.”

“The children have been a joy to work with and are showing a real talent for acting,” said Karen Davies who plays the part made famous by Dawn French.

The play will give audiences a chance to revisit the quiet village of Dibley and meet its many insane inhabitants as the new female vicar, Geraldine Granger, takes up her post.

‘The Vicar of Dibley’ is at the Dolman Theatre from 13 – 16 November at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.


David Goes from Hero to Hitman in ‘Killer Joe’

October 8, 2013
David Constant as Joe, a Texas policeman who hires himself out as a hit man. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

David Constant as Joe, a Texas policeman who hires himself out as a hit man. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Newport Playgoer David Constant has gone from playing clean-cut British hero Richard Hannay in ‘The 39 Steps’ to the role of a brutal hitman in ‘Killer Joe’.

In the play, set in Texas, David is a cop who moonlights as a contract killer.

Killer Joe takes the Smiths’ daughter Dottie (Abby Thomas) to bed as a retainer against his final payoff (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Killer Joe takes the Smiths’ daughter Dottie (Abbie Thomas) to bed as a retainer against his final payoff (Photo: Phil Mansell)

He is hired by the sleazy “trailer trash” Smith family to murder their alcoholic mother whose life insurance money is needed to pay off the son’s debts.

However, once he steps into their trailer, their simple plan spirals out of control.

What follows is a cycle of TV watching, beer drinking, door slamming, violence, betrayal, degradation, possible incest – and a twist in the tale.

Award-winning ‘Killer Joe’ was the first stage play by Tracy Letts and it is a blackly comic, ferociously violent and blatantly sexual assault on the senses.

Dottie (Abbie Thomas) feels the drunken wrath of her father Ansel (Stuart Fouweather) (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Dottie (Abbie Thomas) feels the drunken wrath of her father Ansel (Stuart Fouweather) (Photo: Phil Mansell)

The Smiths are a family whose moral compass has lost its magnet. Letts paints this bunch of trailer-park trash as less than human. He encourages us to laugh at their blind materialism, their uncleanliness and their complete lack of loyalty, family sense, and civic responsibility.

Killer Joe (David Constant) takes sexual custody of teenage daughter Dottie (Abby Thomas) as a retainer until he is paid. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Killer Joe (David Constant) takes sexual custody of teenage daughter Dottie (Abbie Thomas) as a retainer until he is paid. (Photo: Phil Mansell)

“You’re in the trailer with us,” says David. “Our director Nathan Hodge is trying to erase the idea that you’re watching a play – we want the audience to be a fly on the wall, watching this mayhem happen.”

Nearly two decades after the original production in 1993, the play has had successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival, the West End and Off Broadway. ‘Killer Joe’ has been made into a film by William Friedkin, who earlier turned Letts’ second hit play ‘Bug’ into a movie as well.

This is the latest controversial production at the Dolman Studio Theatre which recently hosted a sell-out production of Irving Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’.

There is a good reason the play warns about gun shots, profanity, drug use and full-frontal nudity of both the male and female variety.

If you haven’t a strong stomach for such things – and the worst that human beings can do to one another – stay away. But that would be a shame, because in ‘Killer Joe’, director Nathan Hodge has shaped a thrilling piece of theatre.

‘Killer Joe’ is at the Dolman Studio Theatre from 4 – 8 November. Tickets are available on the door.

Brother and sister Chris (Stuart Moss) and Dottie (Abby Thomas) spend their lives watching TV in their sleazy trailer (Photo: Phil Mansell)

Brother and sister Chris (Stuart Moss) and Dottie (Abbie Thomas) spend their lives watching TV in their sleazy trailer (Photo: Phil Mansell)


Dark Irish Comedy is a Wild Blend of Thriller and Violent Melodrama

October 1, 2013

An hysterically comedic play that charts the life of a 40-year-old virgin, her relationship with her manipulative mother and her last chance of real romance.

Life is a constant battle of wills between Maureen (Meryl Herbert) and her conniving mother Mag (Eileen Symonds).

Life is a constant battle of wills between Maureen (Meryl Herbert) and her conniving mother Mag (Eileen Symonds). (Photo: Phil Mansell)

That’s ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’, this month’s presentation from Newport Playgoers at the Dolman Theatre.

In their lonely cottage in the mountains of County Galway, Maureen Folan is always at odds with her mother, a sour old woman self-exiled to a rocking chair who persecutes her daughter with demands for porridge.

Maureen (Meryl Herbert) finds a last chance of romance with Pato (David Livingstone), a simple-minded labourer

Maureen (Meryl Herbert) finds a last chance of romance with Pato (David Livingstone), a simple-minded labourer (Photo: Phil Mansell)

One day the chance of escape comes in the shape of Pato, a simple-minded local who has returned from working in England. Maureen sees this as her last chance for love. However, as their relationship flourishes a shocking and disturbing train of events is set in motion…

Written by Martin McDonagh, the play rocketed him to fame when it opened in the West End in 1996, winning a nomination for Best Play at the Olivier Awards, with the subsequent Broadway production winning four Tony Awards.

Since writing this play, McDonagh has been as well known for his movies as for his plays with In Bruges earning him an Oscar nomination and Seven Psychopaths gaining critical acclaim in 2012.

‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at the Dolman Theatre from 16 – 19 October at 7.15 pm, with an extra matinee performance on the Saturday at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.