Vintage Nordic Noir Comes to Newport

March 23, 2016

Long before television became captivated by so-called Nordic Noir dramas, the Norwegian playwright Ibsen was writing controversial brooding stories with strong female characters taking the lead.

Sofia Helin as Saga Norén and Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund.

Sofia Helin as Saga Norén and Sofie Gråbøl as Sarah Lund.

Before Sarah Lund and Saga Noren there was Helene Alving in ‘Ghosts’, a play being presented by Newport Playgoers at the Dolman Theatre.

In this brooding tale of suppressed Scandinavian sexuality, Helene is a woman who has spent her life suspended in an emotional void after the death of her cruel but outwardly charming husband.

Graeme Johnson as Manders, Clare Drewett as Helene, Jerry Grummit as Jacob and Stuart Moss as Oswald in 'Ghosts'. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Graeme Johnson as Manders, Clare Drewett as Helene, Jerry Grummitt as Jacob and Stuart Moss as Oswald in ‘Ghosts’. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

She is determined to escape the ghosts of her past by telling her son, Oswald, the truth about his philandering father.

But on his return from his life as a painter in Paris, Oswald reveals how he has inherited the legacy of his father’s dissolute life and is being destroyed by syphilis.

Oswald (Sturart Moss) is nursed by his mother (Clare Drewett) and Regina (Fay Grummit). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Oswald (Stuart Moss) is nursed by his mother (Clare Drewett) and Regina (Fay Grummitt). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This tale of family relations, malicious infections and distorted Victorian morals was considered shockingly indecent when it premiered in 1882.

Director Ruth Ferguson gives ‘Ghosts’ chilling new life in this production.

“The ghosts in Ibsen’s great play are not spirits but the dead ideas and customs that we inherit and find it almost impossible to escape,” she said.

Fay Grummit as Regina and Stuart Moss as Oswald. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Stuart Moss as Oswald and Fay Grummitt as Regina. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

‘Ghosts’ by Henrick Ibsen is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 12th – Friday 15th April at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 16th at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

The Cast of 'Ghosts' (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

The Cast of ‘Ghosts’ (PHOTO: BEN JONES)


Modern Take on Robin Hood Hits the Bullseye!

February 16, 2016
Dynamic Duo: Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael as Marion and Daniel Morgan-Jones as Robin Hood. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Dynamic Duo: Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael as Marion and Daniel Morgan-Jones as Robin Hood. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

There’s comedy and sprawling, action-packed drama when Playgoers New Generation present a fresh take on the Robin Hood myth at the Dolman Theatre.

Combining modern slang with historical parody, this production brings together all the conflicting legends about the outlaw folk hero.

Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones ) and Guy of Gisbourne (Tyron Davies-Sullivan) engage in swordplay. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones ) and Guy of Gisbourne (Tyron Davies-Sullivan) engage in swordplay. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

By re-telling the legend, the play creates roles that challenge and reinvent the myth – with a wise-cracking, superior swords-person in Marian, and a Robin who finds himself a hero only by chance. But true to the legend, all ends well.

The Sheriff’s sleazy scheme fizzles out, King John’s vicious taxes are repealed, the outlaws of Sherwood Forest are granted pardons, and justice descends on England’s green and pleasant land. Perfect fare for everyone who enjoys a rollicking yarn!

Robin Hood by Larry Blamire is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 1st – Friday 4th March at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 5th at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

A tender moment between Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael) and Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

A tender moment between Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael) and Robin (Daniel Morgan-Jones). (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Outlaw Arthur A Bland (Aidan Thomas) declares his love for Ellen Dierwold (Hollie-Jane Flannigan) (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

Outlaw Arthur A Bland (Aidan Thomas) declares his love for Ellen Dierwold (Hollie-Jane Flannigan) (PHOTO: BEN JONES)

Robin and his Merry Men (Thomas Sheppard, Becky Griffiths, Adam Ramsden a and Reilly Featherstone) meet Queen Eleanor (Ellie Nicholson) and her maid Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael). (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

Robin and his Merry Men (Thomas Sheppard, Becky Griffiths, Adam Ramsden a and Reilly Featherstone) meet Queen Eleanor (Ellie Nicholson) and her maid Marion (Charlotte Thomas-Carmichael). (PHOTO:PHIL MANSELL)

The baddies conspire: Tyron Davies-Sullivan, as Guy of Gisbourne, James Powell-Jenkins as the Bishop of Hereford, Owen Richards as King John, Ryan Duggan as Forrester. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

The baddies conspire: Tyron Davies-Sullivan, as Guy of Gisbourne, James Powell-Jenkins as the Bishop of Hereford, Owen Richards as King John, Ryan Duggan as Forrester. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)


Steve’s Mum Played the Original “Mother from Hell”!

January 26, 2016

“Mum on a broomstick” is how the South Wales Argus headlined a review of the family drama ‘The Anniversary’ when it was last presented by Newport Playgoers in 1972.

Family gathering: Rose Bissex as Mrs Taggart with Stuart Fouweather as Terry, Angharad Jones as his wife Karen. Paul Cotton as Henry, Emma Williams as Shirley and Luke Bowkett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Family gathering: Rose Bissex as Mrs Taggart with Stuart Fouweather as Terry, Angharad Jones as his wife Karen, Paul Cotton as Henry, Emma Williams as Shirley and Luke Bowkett as Tom. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

This comedy of family power-play set in 1960s London centres around evil one-eyed Mrs Taggart, an emasculating woman who dominates her three sons who all work in the family construction business.

Director Steve Bissex-Williams and his mother Fay Williams, who played the lead in Playgoers' last production of 'The Anniversary'.

Director Steve Bissex-Williams and his mother Fay Williams, who played the lead in Playgoers’ last production of ‘The Anniversary’.

Now Playgoers are producing the play again and the director, Steve Bissex-Williams, has fond memories of his own mother playing the malevolent matriarch who gathers her sons and their partners to celebrate her wedding anniversary – despite the fact her husband has been dead for 10 years.

Rose Bissex plays the evil domineering matriarch Mrs Taggart. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Rose Bissex plays the evil domineering matriarch Mrs Taggart in the new production. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

“I remember seeing my Mum, Fay Williams, playing this vile, manipulative woman and being horrified by her amazing portrayal which earned a great review by Norrie Drummond, who was the Argus drama critic back then.

“When I was first asked to direct ‘The Anniversary’, I wondered whether the play would be as powerful today as it was then – we tend to be fairly unshockable these days. However, when I picked up the script it read brilliantly. Audiences can expect to be as shocked as I was by this scalpel-tongued, deviously possessive mother who exerts total control over her three weak sons.”

Henry (Paul Cotton) is shocked by the antics of philandering brother Tom (Luke Bowkett) and his girlfriend Shirley (Emma Williams) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Henry (Paul Cotton) is shocked by the antics of philandering brother Tom (Luke Bowkett) and his girlfriend Shirley (Emma Williams) (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Throughout the “celebration” the evil, manipulative matriarch does everything in her power to remind her children who controls the family finances and ultimately their future.

The eldest, Henry, is a transvestite, middle son Terry is planning to emigrate to Canada with his shrewish wife Karen, and the youngest, Tom, a promiscuous philanderer whose many past relationships have ended at his mother’s insistence, arrives with his pregnant girlfriend Shirley.

This stage version is based on a celebrated film that starred Bette Davis as the mother from hell. This production will be celebrating the plays 50th anniversary, as it first opened in March 1966.

‘The Anniversary’ is at the Dolman Theatre from Tuesday 9 – Friday 12h February at 7.15 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday 13 at 2.30 pm. To book tickets call 01633 263670 or visit www.dolmantheatre.co.uk.

Bothers Tom (Luke Bowkett) and Terry (Stuart Fouweather) have a difference of opinion. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)

Bothers Tom (Luke Bowkett) and Terry (Stuart Fouweather) have a difference of opinion. (PHOTO: PHIL MANSELL)