Mr Wonderful

Mr Wonderful

by James Robsons

20th to 22nd October 2014 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

We turned to contemporary comedy – well, 1980s comedy – with our production of the bittersweet play Mr Wonderful directed in The Room Upstairs by Janet Marshall, who was making her directorial debut for the company.

Stalwart member Gaynor Little did her best to steal the show in a comic role as the bed-ridden Phoebe, who struggles with the idea of her daughter finding true love at last at the same time as she struggles with the early signs of dementia.

But Naomi Watkins also deserves credit for her performance as Norma, who is taken in by the suave impostor Geoff Lazenby before finally turning the tables on him.

The part of Geoff was ably played by another long-standing Common Grounder, Martin Noble, while John Kirsopp demonstrated his versatility by taking the remaining four parts.

For the first time in our history we can’t say that we welcomed a new member onto the stage, but we did have newcomers working behind the scenes!

Norma Green Naomi Watkins
Phoebe Green Gaynor Little
Geoff Lazenby Martin Noble
Box, Lop Wink, waiter, drunk John Kirsopp
Mr Wonderful Aloysius
Voices off Vicky Ashberry, Carolyn Jones,
Su Toogood, Fiona McManus
Director Janet Marshall
Assistant Director Vicky Ashberry
Technical Support David Brown
Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
ASM Fiona McManus
Wardrobe & make-up Fiona McManus
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Front of House Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones,
Elaine Howell

Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights

Adapted from original stories by Dominic Cooke

13th to 15th March 2014 | Lincoln Drill Hall

Su Toogood directed this ambitious and spectacular show which featured a cast of thousands, colourful costumes, music, belly dancing, executions, monsters, magic and more!

Arabian Nights – Or One Thousand and One Nights – is an ancient collection of tales, many of which are familiar to modern audiences: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, for instance, and The Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.

Sasha Drennan took the leading role of Shahrazad, the young woman who marries the cruel king and tells him magical stories every night to save herself from being executed like hundreds of brides before her.

As usual we welcomed lots of new faces to our cast as well as not one, but two dancing groups who helped us to give the proceedings an authentically Middle Eastern feel.

As is often the case we made no money on the production but we were pleased with some of the feedback we received from our audiences! Here’s a brief selection:

“It was very entertaining, very professional and looked so good. You must have put in so much work on the costumes, apart from everything else. Congratulations!” Pat Shirley

“Truly a brilliant show. Beautifully crafted. It really seemed to flow so well. So many wonderful performances. The time really flew by. Great ending scenes. So effective. We really did enjoy it so much and talked about it all the way home and much of this morning too. Such a wonderful team piece with so many lovely touches. Costumes look stunning too. Congratulations to you and everyone involved.” Graham Turner

“Congratulations on a wonderful performance of Arabian Nights. It was a real treat and obvious that everyone must have worked really hard to put on such an entertaining play.” Jane Lund

“Su Toogood’s competent direction of Arabian Nights with a cast of what seemed like thousands (eat your heart out Attenborough) was a pleasure to watch. Magical and entertaining, Su’s vision was brought to fruition by her very talented cast complemented by exquisite costumes. An evening well spent, all in all we were delighted and would watch it again. Congratulations Common Ground.” Val & Brian Petty

“Anybody coming to see you all over the next two days is going to see a really great and fun production. The whole thing flies by and I was mesmerised by it a bit – a real escape into imagination.” Andrew Jordan

“It was interesting to see the show from a new perspective – it was a large cast to manage and not the easiest space to work in, especially with limited rehearsal time in it. You must have worked hard.” Beverley Anthony (who directed Arabian Nights at Nottingham Lace Market)

We were very sorry to lose a cast member during the rehearsal process: long-time member Sheila Thomas was to have played some small roles in the stories but sadly passed away in February 2014.

Royal household:

King Shahrayar – Jez Ashberry
The Vizier – John Leighton
Shahrazad – Sasha Drennan
Dinarzad – Marea Reid

Story Characters:

Christopher Adams – Tailor, Es-Sindibad the Sailor,
Haroun, Old Wise Man
Ruth Andrews – Talking Bird
Vicky Ashberry – Druggist, Doctor’s Maid,
Page, Old Religious Woman
Kate Bartlett – Mule, Chief of Police, Girl, Puppeteer, Envious Sister
Kevin Brown – Ali Baba’s Son, Steward, Merchant, Cook
Jose Bruce – Marjana, Little Beggar, Youngest Sister
Alison Clubley – Ali Baba’s Wife, Customer
Brenda Hartley -Kasim’s Wife, Merchant
John Kirsopp -Baba Mustapha, King, Sidi 1
David Lintin – Ali Baba, Merchant, Abu Hassan
Janet Marshall – Thief, Rukh, Mother, Customer, Envious Sister
Chris Matthews – Executioner, Kasim, Bahman
Andrew Mitchell – Merchant, Es-Sindibad the Porter, Sidi 2, Perviz
Martin Noble – Captain, Watchman
Karen Ryan – Thief, Amina
Bob Shirley – Passer-by, King, Baker, Steward
Jenna Starar – Queen, Thief, Tailor’s Wife, Bride
Christine Walker – Mule, Hangman, Eagle, Marriage Broker, Ghoul, Sorceress
Naomi Watkins – Doctor’s Wife, Steward’s Wife

All other parts played by members of the company

Director – Su Toogood
Director’s Assistant – Carolyn Jones
Stage Manager – Nick Dunnett
Stage Crew – Mike Grimshaw, Adam Holman
Sound & Lighting – Bill Bartlett, Lincoln Drill Hall
Wardrobe – Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Set & Props – Beverley Anthony, Bill Bartlett, Nick Dunnett, Su Toogood
FOH Manager – Elaine Howell
Photography – Bill Bartlett
Poster Design -Brenda Hartley
Programme/Publicity – Jez Ashberry

Dancers:

Shimmychics – Claire Johnson, Barbara Pearce, Diane O’Rourke, Nicky Gouldson
Sheherazade Dancers – Connie Hurd, Helen Reed, Rachel Harvey, Jenny Whiffing, Beverly Thompson, Charlotte Odell

Two

Two

by Jim Cartwright

10th to 12th October 2013 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

We returned to The Room Upstairs at Lincoln Drill Hall for our autumn production in 2013. This intimate space was perfect for Jim Cartwright’s two, a spell-binding two-hander set in a northern pub in which the actors play landlord, landlady and all the regulars who come and go.

Gaynor Little made a welcome return to Common Ground in the director’s chair, while Colin Brimblecombe made his debut with the company as the landlord. Juli Charlton, who appeared in our first ever production in 2001, was cast as the landlady.

The play requires two versatile and convincing character actors, and Colin and Juli fitted the bill perfectly. During the course of the evening they took the roles of bickering husband and wife, an abusive bully and his cowed girlfriend, an old man daydreaming about his dead wife, a frustrated mistress, two innocents enjoying a film and a packet of crisps, and many more besides.

Against this backdrop of everyday life in the pub the relationship of the landlord and landlady was slowly laid bare: the recriminations, the jealousies, the misunderstandings and the hardened hearts all caused by a family tragedy years earlier, the wounds from which had never been allowed to heal.

Gaynor, Colin and Juli all deserve our congratulations for staging one of the finest theatrical experiences we have achieved in our short history.

Landlord Colin Brimblecombe
Landlady Juli Charlton
Director Gaynor Little
Producer Jez Ashberry
Lighting Vicky Ashberry
Sound  Jez Ashberry
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Publicity photography Bill Bartlett

Carry On, Jeeves

Carry On, Jeeves

Adapted from the stories by PG Wodehouse
214th to 16th March 2013 | Lincoln Drill Hall

We staged a world premiere in March 2013 – a new adaptation of three PG Wodehouse stories about Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves.

Our chairman Jez Ashberry spent two years getting permission from the Wodehouse Estate to write a new play about these memorable characters and a further year getting the production onto the stage.

The play provided a mammoth part for Jason Hippisley, a man who was born to play Bertie Wooster, and he rose to the challenge magnificently, driving the play forward and remaining on stage throughout most of its two and a half hours. His goofy, gangly Bertie Wooster was beautifully complemented by Graham Turner, a newcomer to our group, whose performance as Reginald Jeeves was by turns affable and cunning.

As usual Su Toogood and Carolyn Jones did a sterling job ensuring our 1920s props and costumes looked the part, and a live swing jazz band playing incidental music put the finishing touch to the period atmosphere. We even had Jeeves and Bertie music playing in the cafe bar and free cucumber sandwiches on offer!

Two members of the PG Wodehouse Society came to see the show and we’re pleased to say that their reviews were very positive. “This will definitely be revived and ring down the ages,” wrote Christine Hewitt, while Steve Griffiths called the show “an outstanding theatrical presentation” and added: “This play has opened the world of PG Wodehouse to a new generation of theatre-goers and it deserves our fullest thanks and praise.”

Negotiations are now ongoing between Jez and the Wodehouse Estate regarding future performances of the play. Watch this space!

Bertram Wooster Jason Hippisley
Reginald Jeeves Graham Turner
Aunt Agatha Irene North
Eustace Wooster James Spencer
Claude Wooster Daniel Hutchinson
Lord Rainsby Peter Wight
Sir Roderick Glossop Michael Church
Lady Florence Craye Rowena Devonport
Sir Willoughby Wooster John Leighton
Hildebrand ‘Tuppy’ Glossop Martin Noble
Honoria Glossop Kate Bartlett
Edwin Alfie Lewis
Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Wickham Aggi Gunstone
Lady Wickham Mary Scott
Oakshott John Kirsopp
Director Jez Ashberry
Stage Manager Vicky Ashberry
Lighting Lesley Hedley & Ed Purle
Stage crew Nick Dunnett, Will Pembery & Andy Nisevic
Wardrobe Su Toogood & Carolyn Jones
Properties Su Toogood & Carolyn Jones
Musical Director Rich Sandham
Vocals Bilie Baker
The Bootleg Babies Jane Hancock (clarinet), Martha Gibbons (guitar), Harry Poxon (bass) & Peter Glanfield (percussion)
Hairdressing Fran Pembery
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Publicity photography Rob Brookes, Photos4All
Production photography Bill Bartlett
Front of House Holly Eggboro, Faye Jones, Ros Roe, Sheila Thomas, Andy Mitchell & Elaine Howell

Closer

Closer

by Patrick Marber

5th to 7th July 2012 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

Closer took Common Ground Theatre Company in a new direction in two different ways: it was our first appearance in The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall’s new intimate performance space (50-seat capacity), and it was an opportunity to stage a more contemporary and edgy play than our audiences are used to seeing.

Closer sold out every night and won praise from those who saw it. It was certainly a difficult play to direct and to act in; there are just four actors, a very confined space, no set and very few props to speak of, not to mention some strong language and at times very intense, emotional scenes.

Director Alex Thornton handled the production with aplomb and put together an extremely strong ensemble of actors – two of whom were new to Common Ground – who really did justice to the play. There was also a nicely judged 1990s soundtrack and clever use of projection to set the scenes and to recreate the infamous online chat conversation between to the two male characters!

We hope this will be the first of many visits to The Room Upstairs, a venue which will give us the opportunity to try more experimental and contemporary works.

Anna Natalie Reed
Alice Kimmie Hunter
Dan Adrian Snow
Larry Stephen Gillard
Director Alex Thornton
Producer Lisa Hewitt Smith
Stage Manager Lisa Hewitt Smith
Lighting Laura Kavanagh
Set design Alex Thornton
Wardrobe Laura Kavanagh, Lisa Hewitt Smith, Alex Thornton
Properties Laura Kavanagh, Lisa Hewitt Smith, Alex Thornton
Photography Andy Benn
Programme Jez Ashberry
Publicity Jez Ashberry
Stage crew Alan Trevor, Ali Roswell, Vicky Ashberry, Lisa Hewitt Smith
Front of house Becky Fawcett, Elaine Howell, Jez Ashberry