The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
January 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 [+mat] 2016
by Graham Linehan
Judith Berrill – Mrs Wilberforce
Julian Batstone – Constable McDonald
H. Reeves – Professor Marcus
David Peaty – Major Claude Courtney
Mark Best – Mr Harry Robinson
John Garland – Mr ‘One Round’ Lawson
Dan Dryer – Mr Louis Harvey
Maggi Pierce – Mrs Jane Tromleyton
Caroline Woodley – General Gordon
Rosemary Bouchy – Friend of Mrs Wilberforce
Cherry Fraser – Friend of Mrs Wilberforce
Annabelle Heath – Friend of Mrs Wilberforce
Anita Shipton – Friend of Mrs Wilberforce
Stage Manager – Dave Comber
Deputy Stage Manager – Ian Churchill
Assistant Stage Manager – Peter Joyce
Lighting Design – Martin Oakley
Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Set Design – Richard Ratcliffe [web-ed aka Tony Brownings]
Technical Operation – Martin Oakley
Technical Operation – Brian Jones
Technical Operation – Kieran Pollard
Wardrobe – Maggi Pierce
Wardrobe – Cherry Fraser
Properties – Annabelle Heath
Rehearsal Prompt – Caroline Woodley
Set Construction – David Comber
Set Construction – Nigel Goldfinch
Set Construction – Carl Gray
Set Construction – Gary Walker
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Painting – Sue Chaplin
Set Painting – Margaret Davy
Set Painting – Sheila Neesham
Publicity – Peter Joyce
Publicity – Maggi Pierce
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Judith Berrill
Poster & Programme – Judith Berrill
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Programme Note #1: The Ladykillers
Biographies – Following in the footsteps…
Tony Brownings has been directing for over forty years now, first at New Venture and for the last eighteen years for Wick Theatre Company. He kind of hopes he is getting the hang of it but when he found he was standing next to Richard Wilson in a Sandwich bar off Kings Road he was very excited. Richard was directing at the Royal Court just round and Tony thought some of Mr Wilson’s brilliance might rub off onto him. However the only thing that seems to have rubbed off is Richard’s Victor Meldrew grumpiness!
H Reeves’s love of theatre started at an early age when his mum, fed up of his showing off in front of their family of five children, sent him to Saturday morning drama club in Montpelier Road Brighton to get it out of his system. Fifty years later H is still showing off! And like Alex Guinness who starred as the film’s Professor Marcus, he has appeared in hundreds of productions over the past 50 years with many different companies. This is H’s fourth production with The Wick and he is appearing with ‘the kind permission of the Southwick Players’ where he is a regular performer and director. Apart from appearing in many amateur productions where his credits include Fagin at the Brighton Theatre Royal and Scrooge at the Barn, H has also directed several shows. H undertakes professional work for the Ugly Model Agency – although he says with his looks he can’t understand why they are interested in him!
Judith Berrill is following in the footsteps of the delightful Katie Johnson, as the sweet epitome of moral fortitude that is Mrs Wilberforce. Like Katie, Judith has had numerous stage appearances [over 50 for the Wick] but she has yet to achieve the BAFTA which Katie won for her wonderful Mrs Wilberforce. But watch this space as Judith makes her own film debut appearance later this year in the company of Hollywood royalty [unless it all ends up on the cutting-room floor]! The setting of a crumbling Victorian house with dodgy plumbing and lopsided pictures is just like being at home for Judith. She has greatly enjoyed returning to being directed by Tony Brownings, who brought out the best ofher sardines as Dotty Otley in Noises Off. However, he was rather too quick to agree that “ageing up for Mrs Wilberforce will be no problem for you”.
Dave Peaty – In his long film career, Cecil Parker was often cast as a ‘touchy’ British officer type. So his Major Courtney in the original Ladykillers was no surprise .. Or was it? The writer of our stage version seems to have imagined something in Cecil’s performance which deserved special emphasis for audiences 60 years on. David Peaty who plays the Major for Wick delights in sharing this surprise with you.
Mark Best – Following in the footsteps of his personal hero Peter Sellers, Mark has taken on many iconic comic rôles and has even appeared as multiple characters in the hit West End show The 39 Steps much like Sellers’ legendary performances in Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove. The title rôle being a direct influence on the the rôle of the villain, Professor Jordan. To fill Sellers’ teddy boy shoes has been a dream! Mark feels he has come a long way from his first stage appearance as a small blonde haired blue eyed boy alongside Christopher Biggins in panto 30 years ago …. reaching to the dizzy heights of 5’7″!
John Garland – Danny Green appeared in many films and TV series over a 40 year period – he made a career as an unnamed tough, but dumb, thug and the rôle of “One-Round” was undoubtedly the highlight. John ha noticed that he too is increasingly being cast as either a villain or a psychopath, despite still regularly auditioning for handsome heroes. Interestingly he and Danny have played the rôle of a slug – Danny in ITV Play of the Week A Tank of Fish  and John a one of The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner in his debut year for the Wick 
Dan Dryer – Like the great Herbert Lom, Dan has also played a myriad of parts during his career. He is of course most famous for playing a giant raspberry in a Christmas edition of Casualty [BBC TV series first broadcast in 1986 – web ed] alongside Aled Jones [who was dressed as a giant crocodile]. Afraid of being typecast as the BBC’s ‘man playing fruit’ specialist, Dan followed in Herbert’s footsteps by branching out and playing many other characters. Herbert had a famous career spanning more than 60 years, being best known for playing Charles Dreyfus in The Pink Panther movies and of course Louis in The Ladykillers .. Dan, alas did not.
Julian Batstone – Following in the footsteps of such actors as Jack Warner of Dixon of Dock Green [BBC TV series broadcast 1955 to 1976 – web-ed] fame, Julian Batstone plays Constable McDonald, the long suffering policeman whose beat happens to include Mrs Wilberforce’s lopsided abode. This is Julian’s fourth time playing a policeman on stage, although, unlike Mr Warner, he has not been made an honorary member of any local police force as yet. This is Julian’s second time on stage for the Wick although he has performed on many stages from The Bahamas to Oxford. He was last seen as Bernard Wolley [sic] in The Wick’ production of Yes, Prime Minister. He is more often found back stage as the deputy stage manager.
Caroline Woodley – Having just been involved in the Duck Variations in Arundel I flew to my perch in the Barn as an ‘oven ready’ parrot ready for the feather factory! Seriously, I have enjoyed being the voice of a parrot for which I am eminently suitable because I keep parrots at home and have done so for over twenty years. They are not the quietest of pets and tend to answer back with choice anglo-saxon four letter words when annoyed. My next outing for WTC after attending The Birthday Party in March, will be No Sex Please We’re British in June. Alas I will not be a parrot this time because I’ve been demoted to director!
Maggi Piece – Joined the Wick Theatre Company in 1983 acting in the production of Noah. She has form as a member of the blue rinse brigade for her appearance as Mrs Slocombe in the 2006 production of Are You Being Served? Maggi not only acts but is also a leading member of the wardrobe and publicity teams so gets involved in nearly all Wick productions in one way or another.
Publicity #1: The Ladykillers
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 24 2015 issue – page 6
Correspondent: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “‘Wonderful’ black comedy to help cure the festive blues”
WICK Theatre Company is preparing a wonderful black comedy to cure those after-Christmas blues. Written by Graham Linehan, of Father Ted and The IT Crowd fame, The Ladykillers is a brilliant adaptation of the 1955 Ealing Comedy classic film, starring Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom.
Posing as amateur musicians, Professor Marcus and his gang rent rooms in the lopsided house of sweet but strict Mrs Wilberforce. The villains plot to involve her unwittingly in Marcus’ brilliantly-conceived heist job. The police are left stumped but Mrs Wilberforce becomes wise to their ruse and Marcus concludes that there is only one way to keep the old lady quiet. With only her parrot, General Gordon, to help her, Mrs Wilberforce is alone with five desperate men but who will be forced to face the music?
Well-known Southwick thespian H Reeves, who last appeared with Wick Theatre in June 2014, takes the lead role of Professor Marcus. Judith Berrill, the company’s press officer, is Mrs Wilberforce; Wick regular Dan Dryer plays Louis Harvey; David Peaty, who last appeared in Yes, Prime Minister in March, is Major Courtney; John Garland, last seen in Rope in October, plays One Round; and Mark Best, who appeared in After Juliet with Young Wick in February, is Harry Robinson.
Successful runs in the West End and on national tour have seen this version of The Ladykillers described as ‘exuberant’ and a ‘fine night of theatre’.
Directing the production for Wick is Tony Brownings, who has previously lifted The Barn roof with laughter in his productions of Noises Off and The 39 Steps.
Judith said: “He has been drilling an experienced and talented cast, whose aim is to entertain. “The part of General Gordon posed no casting problems as Wick has its own expert, Caroline Woodley. “She has several of her own parrots who have been assisting rehearsals.”
There will be six performances, including a Saturday matinée and tickets are selling fast. The run is from Tuesday, January 5, to Saturday, January 9, at The Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick, at 7.45pm daily plus 2.30pm on the Saturday.
Tickets cost £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or through our website, www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Publicity #2: The Ladykillers
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 24 2015 issue – page 37
Correspondent: Phil Hewitt
Text Header: “Classic farce is revived”
A wonderful black comedy to cure those after-Christmas blues comes promised from the Wick Theatre Compnay. The Ladykillers is their January challenge.
Spokeswoman Judith Berrill explains: “This is a brilliant adaptation of the 1955 Ealing Comedy classic film, starring Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom among others, written by Graham Lineham of Father Ted and The IT Crowd fame. Posing as amateur musicians, Professor Marcus and his gang rent rooms in the lopsided house of sweet but strict Mrs Wilberforce. The villains plot to involve her unwittingly in Marcus’ brilliantly-conceived heist job.
The police are left stumped but Mrs Wilberforce becomes wise to their ruse and Marcus concludes that there is only one way to keep the old lady quiet. With only her parrot, General Gordon, to help her, Mrs Wilberforce is alone with five desperate men … but who will be forced to face the music?
Successful runs in the West End and on national tour described the play as ‘exuberant’ and a ‘fine night of theatre’,” says Judith who is promising a fine night.
“The direction is in the good hands of Tony Brownings who has lifted The Barn roof with laughter with his productions of Noises Off and The 39 Steps. He has been drilling an experienced and talented cast whose aim is to entertain you! The part of General Gordon posed no casting problems as Wick has its own expert, Caroline Woodley, who has several of her own parrots who have been assisting rehearsals. We are pleased to be offering a run of six performances including a Saturday matinée. Tickets are selling fast so make sure you book soon!”
Performance run is from Tuesday, January 5, to Saturday, January 9, at The Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick. Curtain-up is at 7.45pm in the evenings and 2.30pm for the matinee on January 9.
Tickets cost £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or through the website, www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Review #1: The Ladykillers
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: January 14 2016 issue – page 7
Reviewer: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “Star performances in cleverly-conceived set”
TWO star performers are brought together for Wick Theatre Company’s sell-out performances of Ealing comedy The Ladykillers.
Judith Berrill and H Reeves are well matched, with both displaying an incredible level of detail in their performances at The Barn Theatre, Southwick, last week. Others in the cast give it their all, too, and Richard Ratcliffe deserves a mention for his clever set design. The story revolves around a gang of robbers led by Professor Marcus. Posing as amateur musicians, they take over a rented room in the lopsided house of sweet Mrs Wilberforce, then plot to involve her in their brilliantly-conceived heist.
The set requires a dining room, bedroom, rooftop scene and steam railway. A lot to ask but Wick has it all. The floor level features the main room with access to the kitchen and a ‘magical’ cupboard. Up on the stage is the bedroom, where the picture wobbled and lampshade shook every time a train went past. At one point, there is even steam coming through the window!
But the really clever bit was the translucent wall that became apparent only when two of the criminals try to make their escape over the rooftop. Very effective!
Both H and Judith are highly-experienced and have long-running associations with The Barn Theatre. It is good to see such stalwarts working together and H’s facial expressions are, of course, legendary. Right from the start, Judith uses every part of her body to portray the part of kindly old landlady. The opening scene with Julian Batstone as Constable McDonald really set the tone for the performance and has us laughing heartily from the get-go. Then H, following in the footsteps of Sir Alec Guinness, joined them and the laughter continued right until the end. He certainly has his work cut out for him, having to constantly trail around a very long scarf and always have it in just the right place at the right time.
It was good to see David Peaty back on stage with the Wick. He quietly put in a really funny performance as Major Claude Courney, again using every expression to full effect. The rest of the gang makes a good group, with Mark Best as Cockney spiv Harry, John Garland as oafish former boxer One-Round and Dan Dryer as Romanian hit man Louis. All were excellent in their roles, complementing each other well.
It was nice to see some of the ladies of the company having fun in the ‘concert’ scene, where the Professor tries to convince them of his musical genius. Wardrobe team Maggi Pierce and Cherry Fraser, prop girls Anita Shipton and Annabelle Heath, and publicity expert Rosemary Bouchy tittered their way through the end of Act One and into the start of Act Two.
One of the downsides of the play is the large number of scene changes, without any actual scene changes. There is the need to move the characters around and take the time forward, so there are quite a few times where the lights needed to drop or something had to happen to fill the gap. That lopsided lampshade certainly came in handy a few times!
There are so many brilliant moments that added up to make the whole a perfect night of good old-fashioned comedy.
Review #2: The Ladykillers
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: January 7 2016
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
The Ladykillers, a classic film from the heyday of Ealing Studios, was remade in 2004 for the American market. The result angered and disappointed a lot of viewers. There can be no such feelings for Graham Linehan’s faithful stage adaptation or with Wick Theatre Company’s excellent production under the direction of Tony Brownings.
The familiar story remains – a gang of criminals, posing as musicians, rent rooms in the dilapidated house of the elderly Miss Wilberforce, allegedly to rehearse but in reality to plan and carry out a robbery. The robbery succeeds but the consequences are lethal.
A clever set uses the floor of the theatre and the stage to create the different levels of the house whilst a neat trick realises the roof top. The original film’s iconic performances present a challenge that the cast takes up magnificently. Their characterisation is such that the originals are soon forgotten. Each contributes to a night of hilarious entertainment. Judith Berrill is delightful as the sweetly innocent landlady whilst H Reeves, as the gang’s leader produces a heady mixture of comedy and menace. One has to mention John Garland as the gormless One Round. He has the audience hooting with laughter.