Reviews

Here are some reviews from some of our productions, please scroll down to view

2012 The Tooth Fairy 


2011 Control

Review: Control by the Forum Players at Bourne End Community Centre

 22 Sep 2011 / Rita Carpenter

THE Forum Players are indeed fortunate in having a member of their group who is able to write plays for them. Anthony Deacon demonstrated his natural talent by writing, directing and playing a large role.

It is not easy to direct and act in a play but with the help of producer Jessica Robinson the play zipped along at a lively pace.

Control was billed as a psychological thriller and it had many twists and turns and an unexpected ending giving the audience much to talk about.

Bill Kirby gave a fine performance as Jack a research chemist with Tracey Huxley playing his wife Mary. Their daughter J was played on alternate nights by Georgia Fisk and Lauren Macaree. Anthony Deacon played Matthew, his roles are always enigmatic which seems to suit him. Emily Plumridge was excellent as Maddie, Matthew’s assistant and Sam Dean played the hapless Luke caught up in something he did not understand. Wendy Keeble was Penelope with a surprise up her sleeve. This was a very entertaining evening and it is to be hoped Anthony will continued to please the audience with his thrillers.


2011 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the Bourne End Community Centre

 2 Jun 2011 / Rita Carpenter

THE Forum Players staged a wonderful performance with the large number of children they have in their group. They usually only use them in the pantomime but director Anthony Deacon decided they should have a production of their own.

As there were so many of them most of the principal roles were doubled up so that some performed Friday and the others on Saturday. It would be unfair to mention anyone by name sufficient to say they were all superb. With so many scene changes the crew had their work cut out, the scenery was well designed and beautifully painted and the lighting enhanced the effects. The sound technicians however must get a mention Graham Hyde and Jessica Robinson did a tremendous job from the bird call, to the water dripping as the thaw commenced and the roar of Aslan was brilliant and the wolf cry and the growls and snarls of the two leopards were excellent.

The costumes were impressive with lots of furry animals beautifully attired and the White Witch was magnificently attired. The make up was so professional it could not have been bettered. Well done Forum Players you certainly offered a night to remember.

Crit from NODA

National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Region
Society : Forum Players
Production : The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Date : Friday 20th May 2011
Venue Bourne End Community Centre
Report by : Rita Carpenter

FRONT OF HOUSE AND PROGRAMME

We were warmly welcomed on arrival and. I was able to have a chat with Director Anthony Deacon before the start of the performance. Infused with enthusiasm he told me the children are usually only able to take part in the pantomime but as there are so many he wanted to give them a show of their own. We discussed the possibility of him starting a Youth Group and he said he was thinking about it. It would be really great if we had a youth group in 11a.

 STAGING AND SET

Not an easy story to stage and with 20 changes the stage crew were kept busy throughout. Set construction by Graeme Robinson, Steve Phelps, Anthony Deacon Nigel Hunt, Roger Clarke Lawrence Huxley and Rick Accastello was well thought out with extremely good art work. The group are restricted in that they have to use the community centre but they made the most of what resources they had to stage a very clever interpretation of C S Lewis’ famous story which was adapted by Glyn Roberts.

 SOUND AND LIGHTING

The lighting plots by Lawrence Huxley and Steve Phelps were well thought out and there was effective use of spots all creating an atmosphere and achieving ideal situations throughout, effective but unobtrusive. The sound effects by Graham Hyde and Jessica Robinson were superb. The birdsong, the sounds of the thaw when Spring arrived, the growling of the leopards and the howl of the wolf were brilliantly rendered and whenever Aslan roared it demonstrated his power perfectly.

 COSTUMES

Wendy Keeble together with club members should be complimented on their authentic costumes. The animals were delightful, the Snow Queen gorgeously attired and Aslan’s costume was cleverly designed. Sally Joseph Green and other club members were responsible for the skilful makeup, I am sure all the characters were delighted with the way they looked and this added to their performances.

 CAST

Because of the number of children and the director wish to give them all an opportunity to perform several of the characters were doubled up with some children playing the roles on Friday and the others on Saturday. It would be unfair to mention only those I saw as I am sure they all did well so I will generalize as far as the doubled up roles were concerned. Sam Dean made a fine Peter the eldest of the children and their leader and his fight scenes were impressive. Susan was well played by Ellie Jones as the big sister endeavouring to keep the peace between the siblings. Edmund was alternately played by Ben Sendall and Charlie Harris the one we saw was suitably impressive as the nasty brother who was always getting into trouble. Lucy the youngest was delightfully played by Rachel Hufflet and Charlotte Robinson. The White Witch stunningly attired had a stately presence and was chillingly evil the part was played by Gorgia Barker Wright and Hollie Hudson The Witch’s evil henchmen Aaron Deacon as Maugrim, Kyle Tapping Baccus and Chloe Robinson were impressive.. The two beavers were charming Mr Beaver played by Georgia Fisk and Jacob Deacon and Mrs Beaver by Carin Ryall and Lauren Macaree. Steve Phelps made an appealing Father Christmas and the effectively clad leopards in the guise of Henrietta Joseph Green, Alex Huxley, Shona McCready and Shannon Barker were accomplished. Charlotte Boseley played the wolf with panache and the dear little creatures in the guise of Jake Robinson Ben Sendall and Charlie Harris were delightful. A special mention must go to Chris Perry for his portrayal of the lion Aslan .He was majestic with a noble stance and carried his part to perfection. The giant Rumblebuffin was amusing (or at least his feet were) and his booming voice gave the impression of a very large giant.

 IN CONCLUSION

Anthony, you deserve credit for the well rehearsed and well disciplined cast of children. Lastly, I really enjoyed Barking Mad which you wrote and look forward to the psychological thriller you have written which will be staged in the Autumn.


2010 Barking Mad


2006 Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk , The Forum Players  

Little ones might be tempted to flee when the booming voice of the giant starts Forum Players panto “Jack and the Beanstalk”. But they’ll be back.

Then it’s into all the fun of May Day. Add the responsibility for keeping Simple Simon on a straight course and giving warnings when danger lurks. This is traditional panto at its best and this amateur dramatic group are past masters at giving their audiences just what they want.

Ever present and planning how he’s going to keep his master happy is man-in-black, Grisley, the giant’s henchman. Alan Edmundson does a great job in the role as he is constantly plagued by the Green Bean Fairy (Brenda Phelps), plots the capture of Daisy the cow (Chris Perry and Sam Dean) and promises a swift end to Jack Durden (Emily Walters) and all the Durden family.

Like every good panto it’s the Dame who holds everything together. Whether it’s bemoaning the loss of Daisy, climbing the beanstalk, cooking a pie for the giant or being attacked by a dragon and mystic spirits, she’s the top man. Dame Durden (Steve Phelps) produces a whole range of facial emotions that are irresistible. But then Steve has done it many times before.

Daisy the cow is the cream on the top of this show and deservedly steals the limelight. A colourful chorus, always in good voice, will have any audience singing along. Then there’s the dancers. Here there’s such a range of routines from dancing round the maypole to planting magic beans and as mystic spirits, they’ll inspire any wannabee dancers in the audience.

Wondering why there was a “Maitre d’Armes” listed in the programme the reason was simple during the final fight sequence which was skilled and realistic.

Worth a special mention are the sets which transport you from town square to woodland glade, up to the clouds and into the giant’s kitchen. Costumes are colourful and the entire cast oozes enthusiasm and enjoyment. For the audience it’s infectious.

A great panto once again from a very good amateur dramatic group. It’s in the Centre Theatre, Wakeman Road, Bourne End and there’s shows tomorrow at 2.30pm and 6.30pm then on Sunday at 2.30pm. On Saturday, January 28 there are performances at 2.30pm and 6.30pm. Crocks and Crystal on The Parade, Bourne End, has the box office or you can ring

Barrie Penfold


2004 Cinderella


2003 Groping for Words


2002 The Adventures of a Bear called Paddington


1999 Once a Catholic


1999 Outside Edge


1998 The Importance of being Earnest

Forum Players perform a witty Oscar Wilde classic with class

Any drama group starts with a distinct advantage when they choose to put on an Oscar Wilde play. The wit of the dialogue is a treat in its own right.

And Bourne End’s Forum Players did it justice last week, with a highly enjoyable production. Certainly it was one of those evenings when you hear people all round saying “Wasn’t it good” as they leave, looking happy.

Man of the match (sorry – but it was Cup Final day) was Brenda Phelps playing Lady Bracknell. Her portrayal of the dominating dame really was masterly.

Katherine Evans, a sixth-form pupil at Borlase School, looked suitable refined as the Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax, and no doubt has a good acting future ahead of her.

Even younger was Laura Cottrell, who is taking GCSE’s at Wye Valley School, and who played Cecily Cardew.

Local amateur dramatics has nothing to worry about with youngsters like these coming up.

The leading young men, played by Anthony Deacon and Paul Dawson, had long and not too easy parts to play, and they did so well. They displayed just the right mix of caddishness and attractiveness to encourage the audience to warm to them.

Miss Prism (Gill Stokes) was wonderfully twittery, and with the equally dotty rector (Richard Garland), raised lots of laughs.

The two minor parts of man-servant and maid played by Andrew Whitehead and Angela Telfer were admirable.

So, it was a great play, well cast, well produced by Angela Telfer and Richard Garland, and backed up by a competent production team.

Sandra Carter- -Bucks Free Press- -May 22nd 1998-


 1997 The Wizard of Oz

This was not one of the normal pantomimes that Forum Players produce, but one that was enjoyed by young and old. This production included a cast of nearly 60.

This involved a lot of hard work by everyone involved, and my thanks go to all back stage, front of house and cast for their patience during rehearsals.

Steve Phelps

Review from the Bucks Free Press

Sitting in a hall packed full of noisy children may not be everybody’s idea of how to spend a Saturday afternoon, but the looks of wonderment and screeches of excitement prompted by this production made my day.

Directors Brenda and Steve Phelps did a grand job controlling such a large cast of all ages – all of whom performed up to expectations.

Richard Garlands’ Tin Man gleamed brilliantly in the stage lights and creaked plaintively when begging Dorothy for a drink of oil. And the courageless Lion (Allan Wright) growled timidly and hid behind anything available whenever trouble loomed.

Simon Jones’s Scarecrow was a splendid jolly character wobbling all over the stage like some insane Indian rubber man, eliciting howls of laughter from kids and adults alike and expansive coos of sympathy when bemoaning the lack of a brain.

A diminutive Munchkin mayor and Munchkin farmer (James Emmett and Tom Penfold) entertained the audience royally during scene changes, with comical verbal swordsmanship. And the graceful Lee Ann Watson Dancers did their mentor proud in well choreographed dance scenes.

Laura Cotrell has a good voice and got things off to a grand start with a splendid rendition of Over the Rainbow. Her Dorothy was well acted throughout and she deserved the applause she received at curtain.

Wicked Witch Wendy Keeble did a wonderful job of inciting the audience to indignant rowdiness and frightening children into their parent’s arms.

This is a pantomime full of bright colours, fun, laughter, memorable songs and endearing characters performed well by a cast who clearly enjoyed themselves on stage.

Get along to see it if you can, but beware the Wicked Witch.

Archie Wilson- -Bucks Free Press- -January 17th 1997-


1995 Barking Mad


1993 Steel Magnolias

 Review from the Maidenhead Advertiser – 28th Mat 1993 – Susan Joshua

 Merchandising, they call it in the entertainment business. You know, go to the rock concert and buy the T-shirt, CD, poster, etc.

And if Bourne End’s Forum Players were in the business of making serious money, they’d have had a stall selling boxes of Kleenex at the entrance to the Community Centre in Wakeman Road.

For I know I wasn’t the only one surreptitiously dabbing at the corner of my eye in the final scene of last week’s memorable performance of Steel Magnolias. (Mutterings of Hay Fever didn’t fool me – the pollen isn’t that high at 10.20pm!)

It’s difficult to know where to begin praising their production of Robert Harling’s play, which was made into a film starring Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Daryl Hannah and Olympia Dukakis.

The first thing that struck me as the curtain rose was the authentic looking set. The play is set in a hairdressers in Louisiana – or as they call them in those parts, a Beauty Salon. Everything was there and in working order, from water through a spray in the back wash basins, to hair-dryers, tongs, swivel chairs and hair style posters on the walls.

Then, as soon as the first woman spoke, not only the confidence that came through, but the accurate American accent – sustained by all six throughout the performance.

For me one of the most interesting roles was that of Annelle, played by Lesley Clark, who developed like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. In the first scene she was a timid, mouse like with a body language that said “Please let me be.” As the scenes progressed, and her domestic situation and religious conviction changed, she grew in stature and confidence, taking her place in the community of the salon and the wider world.

This play celebrates the strength of women, the strength that comes from conquering adversity, and among the many witty one-liners I was waiting to hear one of my favourite expressions from the US: “Women are like tea bags: you don’t know how strong they are until they’re in hot water.”

Pivotal to the whole action was salon owner Truvy, played with pace and panache by Brenda Phelps. The strength the women drew from each other came in a large part from the atmosphere she created in her salon and Brenda struck exactly the right note.

Playing mother and daughter in the play were real life mother and daughter Wendy Keeble and Sami Deacon. Knowing their real life relationship added an extra edge to their powerful performances.

The personality development of most of the characters over the two and a half years of the play’s action was one of its fascinating aspects. Changes were lest dramatic for the two older women salon clients, played by Janet Smith and Angela Telfer, but they portrayed those changes subtly and skilfully.

My only regret is that this fine performance, directed by Richard Garland, was seen by so few people. I only hope the 33 of us who saw the performance on Thursday last week made our applause as loud as the excellent cast deserved.


1990 Blythe Spirit

Review from the Bucks Free Press – 5th October 1990

 It was, I think an Oxford don who said that, when asked to explain the purpose of poetry, he always replied that it was to furnish authors with titles. As Shelley penned the opening line of his Ode to a Skylark, he could hardly have imagined how he was supplying the idea for such a sparkling comedy. He would have applauded the manner in which Forum Players poured their full hearts into Blithe Spirit. So would author Noel Coward.

Wendy Keeble directed the play with her customary imagination and flair. Her first coup was to persuade Richard Garland back to the boards, though with the prospect of such a plum role, he may have needed little coaxing. From the start Richard was in his element as Charles Condomine, a charmer besieged by the spirit of his first wife, played with ethereal grace by Wendy Woodington, who glided rather than walked across the room. The humour and wit of Elvira, delightful enough in her life, became an irritant to the hapless Charles.

Gwen Widberg was an obvious choice as medium Madame Arcati, a role in which it is tempting to do an Edith Evans and go right over the top. Gwen played in with wonderful restraint.

Geof Gardener, playing a doctor ineffective against Charles’ affliction, and Janet Smith, as his tactless wife had little enough chance to shine, but still managed to do so. So also did the admirable Debbie Stokes as the neurotic maid with psychic powers.

No, I have not forgotten Brenda Phelps. Perish the thought, for here was a gem of a performance. As the second wife, Brenda had a red rose thrown at her during the play. At its end, she deserved to be handed a mass of them for her assured and professional acting.

The backstage crew did sterling work with set, lighting and special effects.

The London run of Blithe Spirit started in 1941 and went to almost 2,000 performances, at that time a record for a non-musical show. I saw it then and was captivated. Almost fifty years on, Forum Players renewed the pleasure.