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)

 

 

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Argus Sponsors Festival of New Plays at the Dolman Theatre

March 2, 2012

The South Wales Argus is sponsoring a festival of new one act plays that combine stand-up comedy, bloody sword fights and romantic mix-ups to give a modern take on Shakespeare. The ‘No Holds Bard’ festival at the Dolman Theatre from 15th – 17th March, promises to be an evening of lively entertainment that makes Shakespeare totally accessible for today’s audiences and turns his plots into plays for today.

A scene from 'Roman and Julia' by gary Dooley

A tender moment between two people (Rose Bissex and Daniel Penfold) who meet in 'Roman and Julia' by Gary Dooley

The festival showcases four plays that won a competition run by Newport Playgoers as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project. One play will go on to be staged at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre – and possibly to Stratford as part of the World Shakespeare Year celebrations.

Two of the plays – ‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell from Newport, and ‘Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers of Cardiff– are by writers who are no strangers to having plays staged at the Dolman. Kevin’s play ‘Surviving the Century’ and Phil’s play ‘Bunkered’ were two of the four winners of a highly successful golf-themed writing competition organised to tie in with the Ryder Cup coming to Newport.

A scene from 'Poor Yorick' by Phil Mansell

Yorick (Will Smith-Haddon) and Hamlet (Chris Powell) plot revenge and job opportunities while Queen Gertrude (Sue Morgan) looks on in ‘Poor Yorick’ by Phil Mansell.

The other two winning plays to be performed as part of the festival are ‘To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker and ‘Roman and Julia’ by Gary Dooley.

“The aim of the competition was to give a new twist on Shakespeare and create plays that today’s audiences will enjoy and connect with,” said Playgoers’ President Richard Dymond, “I hope the people of south Wales will come along and enjoy an evening that looks set to be full of fun and surprises.

A scene from 'Only Words remain' by Kevin Myers

A mysterious elderly man (Chris Bissex) meets a woman from his past (Lillian Hynes) in ‘Only Words Remain’ by Kevin Myers.

”We are particularly pleased and proud that our local newspaper, the Argus, has kindly sponsored the three night festival of one act plays,” he added.

A scene from 'To Sleep Perchance to Die' by Russell Walker

The Dreamer (Luke Bowkett) faces another scary moment as he lives the actor’s nightmare over and over again in ‘To Sleep Perchance to Die’ by Russell Walker.

Tickets for the ‘No Holds Bard’ festival, which is at the Dolman Theatre from 15 – 17 March, can be booked by phoning the box office on 01633 263670 or visiting dolmantheatre.co.uk.