The Volunteers, a Comedy Play by Hilary Mackelden, Directed by Tony Thomson assisted by Sarah Givertz, was presented at Rye Community Centre on Thursday 30th January, Friday 31st January and Saturday 1st February.
The cast was:
Brenda (Manager of charity shop) Clare Murray
Prue (An elderly volunteer) Rowena Sterry
Denny (An elderly volunteer with very poor eyesight) Penny Goldney
Leanne (A young girl) Verity Page
Claire (The Area Manager) Sarah Givertz
John Turk (CEO of the charity) Alex Stone
Mrs Rolls-Royce-Ford Jackie Burren
Mrs Chat-Chat Yvonne Cotterell
Ethel Barrymore Yvonne Hamilton
The Exchanger Julia Gayton
Man Kevin Nuttall
Busy Body Judy Wall
The Production Team was:
Prompt Janet Stott
Stage Manager Robert Wall
Lighting/Sound Dell Smith
Set Design/Publicity Manager Judy Wall
Set Builders Peter Crome, Kevin Nuttall, Robert Wall,
Set Painters June Woolley, Sarah Givertz, Judy Wall,
Carol Gasson, Rowena Sterry
Front of House Helen Gray, Janet Sherwood, Kay Fox, Dilys Mayor,
Carol Charlton, Chrissie Nuttall, Mike Stott
Bar Manager Reg Emson
Box Office Pocket Full ‘O Rye
Special thanks to Thomas Transport for providing transport to move the set.
It was a cold wet evening in early February, but never the less we braved it and walked up to the Rye Community Centre to see “The Volunteers”, the latest production by the new theatre group, Acting Up in Rye. What an apt name for their second play, as the cast and back stage are all volunteers in a different capacity.
Brenda (Clare Murray) runs a somewhat untidy charity shop in a small town’s High Street, staffed by elderly volunteers Denny (Penny Goldney), who has very poor eyesight, and Prue (Rowena Sterry), who is – how can we put it – a little doolally. Area manager Claire (Sarah Givertz) and new CEO John (Alex Stone) turn up with lots of ideas to revamp things, including getting rid of the Denny and Prue and bringing in the much younger, but still on-probation Leanne (Verity Page).
The play is enlivened by some wonderfully cast ‘customers’, including a serial exchanger, a hard bargainer, and an ethically-challenged man. Needless to say, the charity’s shake-up does not go to plan, and the team, enlarged with the addition of their youngster, Leanne, ends up very much still in charge of the shop!
The play is very funny, and was wonderfully acted by this new group. Tony Thomson directed with aplomb, and unbeknown to the cast, the playwright herself, Hilary Mackleden, turned up on the night, saying afterwards how impressed she was with the production.
‘Acting Up in Rye’ very much deserves our enthusiastic support, and we look forward to its next production.
ACTING UP IN RYE’S PRODUCTION OF THE VOLUNTEERS
From the outset of Acting Up in Rye’s production of Hilary Mackelden’s comedy play “The Volunteers”, you really thought you were there in the charity shop where the play was set. This was helped not only by the convincing cast, but also by the stage set, which was really excellent. I thought it was brilliant idea to dispense with the main curtains – this really opened up the stage, and, particularly with the props which extended into the hall, really allowed the audience to get the feeling they were part of the action.
The play opens with three of the main characters on stage, and they all fitted their parts beautifully. You had Brenda (played by Clare Murray), the manager of the charity shop, with her staff of two elderly volunteers – the slightly addled Prue (Rowena Sterry), and the short-sighted Denny (Penny Goldney). As I say, all were convincing without overdoing it – you really felt for the rather naïve Prue, with her ability to dream up explanations for events and her tendency to malapropism.
The play moves on to the introduction of Claire (played by Sarah Givertz), the Area Manager, and John Turk (played by Alex Stone), the CEO of the charity. There were some lovely lines in the script for Claire, which she took full advantage of. Her speech on the “vision” for the charity, which included such buzz words as “blue-sky thinking”, “ pushing at the envelope”, and, perhaps for me the best of all “we have fine-tuned our mission statement and mapped our course through the economic quagmire”, deservedly drew its own clapping each night.
We then were introduced to Leanne (Verity Page), who played the young girl, sent to work in the shop as her Community Service. She showed just the right amount of belligerent attitude at the beginning, before moving on to the spirited but caring individual she really was.
Throughout the customers came and went – Mrs Rolls-Royce-Ford (Jackie Burren), Mrs Chat-Chat (Yvonne Cotterell), Ethel Barrymore (Yvonne Hamilton), The Exchanger, (Julia Gayton) and Busy Body (Judy Wall). And then we had the Man (Kevin Nuttall), who whilst he had just one line acted his part brilliantly.
As the secrets unfold and worlds come toppling down in some cases, one was left at the end with a feeling that all was right in the end – Tony Thompson as Director and Sarah Givertz who had assisted, had done a really good job.
We are eight ladies from Brighton who came to see your production on 1st February. We were in Rye for a weekend break and thought it might be nice to do something different and come and see your show, and we weren’t disappointed.
What a lovely evening we had. A warm greeting welcomed us at the door. The decoration in the community centre made it feel like we were right in the charity shop with the actors, and the story was at times belly achingly funny mixed with tender moments. Particularly the moment when Pru found out the others had stopped her house sale and she said all her life people had stopped her doing things…wonderful.
We all said what a shame it is that we don’t all live nearer as we would have loved to see your next production.
Congratulations to all involved, we had a fantastic night.