Dancing at Lughnasa

Dancing at Lughnasa

By Brian Friel
23rd to 25th September 2015 | Lincoln Drill Hall

Our autumn 2015 production in the main auditorium at Lincoln Drill Hall was Dancing at Lughnasa by the celebrated Irish playwright Brian Friel.

Directed by Gaynor Little, the play tells the story of an impoverished family of sisters living in rural Ireland in the 1930s and the effect on them of the return of their older brother Jack, who has been working in Africa as a missionary priest.

A fabulous ensemble cast really brought this play to life, aided by an ingenious set (which cost £30!) and some suitable down-at-heel costumes and props.

As usual with Common Ground we welcomed several newcomers, but to the untrained eye it seemed that the cast had been working together for years! Dot Howes, Pam Marnie, David Thew, Dene Woodman and Louise Ross all appeared for us for the first time, joining Common Ground stalwarts Su Toogood and John Leighton and relative newcomer Fraya Grove.

Sad to relate that just a week after our performance Brian Friel passed away, but we felt we did justice to one of his best loved plays despite the small audiences over three nights at Lincoln Drill Hall.

Kate Su Toogood
Rose Louise Ross
Maggie Pam Marnie
Agnes Dot Howes
Chris Fraya Grove
Michael David Thew
Gerry Dene Woodman
Jack John Leighton
Director Gaynor Little
Producer Vicky Ashberry
Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
Lighting Lincoln Drill Hall
Sound David Brown
Set construction Nick Dunnett
Stage crew Kevin & Sheila Gillingham, Julia Thew
Wardrobe Carolyn Jones, Su Toogood
Properties Bill Bartlett, Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Photography Bill Bartlett, Deb Lord
Choreography Collette Saw
Front of House Naomi Watkins, Juli Charlton

The Fisherman’s Wife

The Fisherman’s Wife

A sex farce, with sea creatures – By Steve Yockey
30th April to 2nd May 2015 | The Room Upstairs, Lincoln Drill Hall

We have staged all kinds of plays in our 14-year history, from Shakespeare and Dickens to coarse acting and contemporary drama. But it’s fair to say that we’ve never performed anything quite like The Fisherman’s Wife, which was our offering in spring 2015.

Never before performed in the UK, this is a new play by American author Steve Yockey which takes as its inspiration The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, a 19th-century Japanese woodcut which depicts a raunchy encounter between a female pearl diver and two tentacled sea creatures.

From that starting point Yockey wrote a crazy, surreal sex farce featuring an unhappily married couple, a sexually opportunistic travelling salesman and a pair of magical sea creatures who assume human form when on dry land.

Our hilarious show in The Room Upstairs at Lincoln Drill Hall featured live music, vivid underpants, drug misuse, a puppet show, sex, violence, a singalong and much more besides.

Once again we had several new faces in our cast – Matt Noakes and Suzannah Turner as the sea creaures Octopus and Squid and Fraya Grove as the eponymous Vanessa Minnow – while old stagers Philip Little and Jez Ashberry played the fisherman Cooper Minnow and Thomas Bell, the travelling salesman, respectively.

The play was a virtual sell-out and certainly enhanced our reputation as a theatre group which is prepared to push the boundaries wherever possible!

Review: “We went to see The Fisherma’ns Wife on Saturday night, had a thoroughly fun evening with lots of laughs – well done!” – Jill Cook via Facebook. 

Vanessa Minnow Fraya Grove
Cooper Minnow Philip Little
Thomas Bell Jez Ashberry
Squid Suzannah Turner
Octopus Matt Noakes
Director Vicky Ashberry
Technical Support David Brown
Stage Manager Nick Dunnett
Lighting Joe Price
ASM Helen Hill
Set construction Nick Dunnett
Set painting Andrew Simms
Photography Bill Bartlett
Properties & wardrobe Vicky Ashberry
Programme / Publicity Jez Ashberry

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!

Mr Wonderful

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


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



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