Party Piece – Getting in the party spirit

Gainford Drama Club selected Party Piece to celebrate 70 years of the amateur dramatics club, and you have to admire the sheer work-rate and athleticism of the cast in this Richard Harris comedy which is riddled with chaotic situations. At times the humour is farcical and takes some swallowing.  The More »

The Accrington Pals

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War Gainford Drama Club performed 'The Accrington Pals' - an excellent choice to commemorate and remember all those who lost their lives in that most devastating of military campaigns. So many of the young men sent to fight More »

The Ladykillers

The classic 1955 black comedy film, The Ladykillers, was adapted for the stage by Graham Linehan (co-creator of Father Ted) in 2011.  It may or may not be the greatest of the Ealing comedies, but it is certainly the one that immediately suggests itself as theatrical. The story remains the More »

Not Now Darling

Not Now Darling is a traditional farce with all the regular hallmarks – people hiding in cupboards, spouses coming and going continuously and a wealth of mistaken identities and innuendo. Firmly based in the 1960s, the script by Ray Clooney and John Chapman reminds one of the “Are You Being More »

And Then There Were None

Ten strangers are summoned for a long weekend to the remote Soldier Island off the coast of Devon, under variously different pretexts. Characters arrive individually and in pairs, having travelled to the island to see Mr and Mrs Owens; the hosts of this group holiday excursion. They are assisted Fred More »

Spring and Port Wine

Spring and Port Wine is a domestic drama, set in the late 1960s, which centres on the attempts of Rafe Crompton (Allan Jones) to hold his family together by being a strict disciplinarian. He wants to retain old-fashioned values while his children, noticing that outside the world is changing rapidly, More »

Will You Still Love Me In The Morning?

Gainford Drama Club’s spring production of the Brian Clemens and Dennis Spooner farce was certainly one to remember. From the first night to the final performance the company was almost word-perfect and handled the fast-paced, sometimes frenetic action with aplomb.  The audience were chuckling from start to finish.  The play More »

The Game’s Afoot

(or Holmes for the Holidays) Gainford Drama Club’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot” (or Holmes For The Holidays) is part mystery, part melodrama, part comedy, part farce as well as good, well-crafted entertainment. You certainly need a scorecard to keep track of who is dead, could be dead More »

Blithe Spirit

Audiences moved by the spirit of comedy The Academy Theatre in Gainford has been rocked with laughter once again by Gainford Drama Club’s 150th production – Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.  The play is a brave choice as it is a difficult play to pull off.  Not only do the leading More »

Tonight at 8:30

GAINFORD Drama Club’s spring production was three of Noel Coward’s one act plays from the set of ten from ‘Tonight at 8.30.’ The three they selected to perform where ‘Hands Across the Sea,’ ‘Fumed Oak’ and ‘Still Life.’ First produced in 1935, they certainly still retain their charm, humour and More »


Blithe Spirit our spring production, directed by Alan Jones, was a great success and saw the introduction of several new members.  On stage we had two new members making their debut for the club, Michelle Hope and Jo Longstaff, and backstage Aiden West and Rob Smith.  They all proved to be great assets to the Club during the production.  The Saturday matinee again proved to be very popular, overall we had 565 people who watched the play, and judging from the many comments, thoroughly enjoyed it.

The autumn production will be directed by Tom Brown and play readings have already started to help Tom choose a play.  The next play reading will be on Monday 11th May,7.30 pm, in the Green Room.    

Iris Hillery is planning a Talent Night as a club social event on Friday 9th October.   We know we have many talented people in the Club so please don`t “hide your light under a bushel” come and “strut your stuff”.

We are trying hard to publicise the Club and its activities via social media adding to our existing website.   We have now added Facebook pages, one for members only and an open page to get our message out there, so please have a look at them and contribute them. 


We have been approached to see if the club would wish to join in a festival.  An extract from an e- mail is as follows:-

 “We are currently working towards setting up a festival in the area and wondered if this might be of interest?  As well as our own two productions (COSI FAN TUTTE and the rock musical – ! – BEOWULF), which we would love people to join, the main idea is for any groups and other performers to put on shows under the umbrella of the Festival: drama groups/comedians/orchestras/dance schools…  Perhaps groups have performed i n their local villages and could do a ‘swop’ with others; thereby getting extra enjoyment out of their hard work and doubling entertainment opportunities for their audiences.

The Festival will take place over the first two weeks of August (in the hope that should it be something people enjoyed sufficiently to want to do it again, perhaps we could tempt visitors to Edinburgh to make a detour – thinking ahead a little!)”

If anybody thinks this is a good idea for the Club to take part at this festival, please let me know.

Gainford Big Weekend, in June, are having a scarecrow competition.  It might be fun if we created a Drama Club scarecrow (could we put it outside the Theatre?).  Would anyone be up for helping produce one?   Please let we know.

Well that’s all for now!


Blithe Spirit

Audiences moved by the spirit of comedy

The Academy Theatre in Gainford has been rocked with laughter once again by Gainford Drama Club’s 150th production – Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.  The play is a brave choice as it is a difficult play to pull off.  Not only do the leading actors have large parts to learn but they also have to maintain dialogue with characters that are invisible to others. Timing is so crucial when one of the threesome are not supposed to be there and this was pretty much spot on. Costumes as always were very good with the ghostly pale grey very effective.  An attractive set and period music set the scene with a good rhythm as the plot developed which became more comfortable as the play progressed.

Is-there-anybody-thereThe production showcases Gainford’s ability to retain talent, with John Robinson as the sceptical Dr Bradman, and to introduce new blood, with Michelle Hope making a promising stage debut as Mrs Bradman. Maria Lowcock as Madame Arcati displays a chirpy enthusiasm for the occult with an accomplished performance reminiscent of Margaret Rutherford in the role. Also new to the Club although not to the stage, Josephine Longstaff delivers a charming performance as the moody and mischievous ghost Elvira whilst Fiona Minay was convincing as Ruth, coping with several costume changes and bouts of hysteria.  Iris Hillery had the audience chuckling in the cameo role of maid Edith.

Introducing-Mme-ArcatiAllan Jones has delivered an entertaining production as Director and a sound acting performance as author Charles’ complacency is undermined by his current and former wives.  The audience as ever enjoyed it as it was up to the normal high standards, demonstrating the hard work that has gone into it.

Performances continue at 7.30 pm from Wednesday 25th March to Saturday 28th March – telephone the Ticket Information Line 01325 730485 or visit the Facebook page Gainford Drama Club.

Play readings will commence after Easter for the Autumn production and new members are welcome.

Don’t Dress for Dinner

Well attended and well received play  (Northern Echo)

It was a “whirlwind farce of adultery and fine dining” for more than 750 theatre-goers as Gainford Drama Club staged its latest play.  Don’t Dress for Dinner by |Marc Camoletti, and adapted by Robin Hawdon, has been well received by audiences at the Academy Theatre, Gainford, over the last two weeks.Cast Photo

The play was a sequel to Camoletti’s populat play Boeing-Boeing, which reintroduced Robert and Bernard and relocated them to a weekend retreat outside Paris.

Director Lawrence Chandler, assisted by Fiona Minay, asembled the cast including Paul Richardson as the increasingly frantic husband, Bernard, while Jan Richardson-Wilde portrayed his mistified wife Jacqueline.

Sam Beamish-Young also made his debut with the club.


Gainford Drama Club’s autumn offering is a whirlwind farce of adultery and fine dining.

Don’t Dress for Dinner by Marc Camoletti (adapted by Robin Hawdon) has been well received by audiences at the Academy Theatre, Gainford over the last two weeks.  This sequel to Camoletti’s popular play Boeing-Boeing reintroduces Robert and Bernard and relocates them to a weekend retreat outside Paris.

DSCF3237Director Lawrence Chandler assisted by Fiona Minay assembled a talented cast that included Paul Richardson as the increasingly frantic husband, Bernard, whilst Jan Richardson-Wilde competently portrayed his mystified wife, Jacqueline. The cast deserve recognition for sustaining this high-energy French farce over ten performances including for the first time a matinee as well as an evening performance on the middle Saturday.

Bernard is anticipating an illicit weekend with his mistress Suzanne (played by Paris Lowcock) when Tom Brown enters the fray as the put-upon best friend, Robert Dubedat.  He is reluctantly persuaded into providing an alibi when Bernard’s wife unexpectedly cancels her visit to her mother in order to spend the weekend with her lover – Robert!  Further complications ensue when cook Suzette (Maria Lowcock) hired by Bernard to prepare a cordon bleu meal is mistaken by Robert for Bernard’s mistress, leaving the mistress to prepare the dinner.  Both men provoke some hearty laughter with their energetic attempts to distract Jacqueline while Robert devises ever more complicated aliases to prevent her from discovering the truth.  Add copious amounts of alcohol, several costume changes and increasing puzzlement from Bernard and Jacqueline and it doesn’t really matter if the audience can’t follow the machinations of the labyrinthine plot.

DSCF3257Sam Beamish-Young made his debut with the Club as a final complication to the evening’s antics arriving as the Suzette’s husband, George. Sami Nash of Vintage Tinsel deserves a mention for the hair styling with an outrageous Mohican for hard man George and progressively more dishevelled looks for Suzette and Suzanne.  Maria Lowcock’s matter-of-fact delivery and demands for more money every time the plot thickens delighted the audience.  Tom Brown received a well- deserved ovation for his deft handling of an outrageously complicated monologue.  Although the script is often silly and implausible, the cast works well together, allowing the audience to suspend disbelief and enjoy the visual and verbal gags. Overall a very entertaining evening.

Play Readings

In order to decide on our Spring production we will be undertaking a couple of play readings in the Green room of the Academy Theatre on Monday, 8th December.

Allan Jones will be directing the spring production, play and dates to be arranged, so he will need to know who will be available.  If you would like to be considered for a part in the next play but can’t make the reading, please let me or Allan know.

Also, the following Monday (15th), same time and place, we are having our Christmas get-together, with a play reading, mulled wine and mince pies.  Again, let us know if you can’t make it!

If you are interested and would like to become involved with Gainford Drama Club, why not contact us and come along.


The committee would like to invite all our members to come along on the 4th September at 8pm, (after the comm.meeting), to discuss the possibility of producing a third play end of January/February 2015.  As we now have lots of new members we are keen to keep up interest and get everyone involved.  The idea would be to cast a play end of October.

We need your thoughts on this so please come along.  Let me know if you can’t make it but would like to be involved.

Summer News

At the recent AGM our chairman gave a summary of the club year. Several play readings had been held, all with very good attendances, which resulted in two successful productions being staged, An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, abridged and directed by our chairman and 3 one-act plays from Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 series directed by Allan Jones.  There were good houses for both productions and all new members who had joined during the year were able to make their acting debuts.

Several social events had been held during the year culminating in our President’s 90th birthday party held in the theatre and attended by many past and current members. Enid Burdon has been a member since the inception of the club in 1949 and is still a great supporter.

The chairman had made good progress in updating the mailing list and intended to continue with the responsibility of sending out the forms, both postal and electronic.   She thanked Richard Stephenson and Viv and Mike Brown for their work in printing and dealing with the forms and the tickets and Allan Jones for his work in setting up and maintaining the website. Paul Richardson presented his financial report for the year which had been audited by David Maughan and they were both thanked for their contribution.

Play readings were being held in The Green Room, the next one being on Monday 30th June and new members would be made very welcome.  The next production to be staged at the end of November would be directed by Lawrence Chandler and Fiona Minay and it was intended that a casting meeting would be held before the summer holidays with rehearsals commencing at the beginning of September.

It was noted that the Spring Production next year would be our 150th, the longevity of the club is a splendid achievement not possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of members.

In conclusion our chairman thanked the officers and committee for their help and support during the three years of her chairmanship and handed the meeting over to the incoming chairman John Lowery.


Tonight at 8:30

GAINFORD Drama Club’s spring production was three of Noel Coward’s one act plays from the set of ten from ‘Tonight at 8.30.’ The three they selected to perform where ‘Hands Across the Sea,’ ‘Fumed Oak’ and ‘Still Life.’ First produced in 1935, they certainly still retain their charm, humour and relevance today. The stories are very different and range from the comedy of mistaken identity in ‘Hands across the Sea.’ ‘Fumed Oak’ saw us meet three generations of the Gow family as their domestic tribulations are revealed. ‘Still Life’ completed the evening with the most recognisable of the three as it was the basis for Brief Encounter. Producing these three plays must have brought many challenges not least with the set and the cast not only playing more than one part, but playing them in different stories. The versatile set was quickly transformed into the three settings and the cast were excellent in each play. A special mention must go to John Chadwick, who appeared in all three plays, and appeared to relish the very different roles each play brought him. If you haven’t yet seen the Gainford Drama Club they are a group of high quality with a unique theatre space.

Spring News

Rehearsal are underway for our spring production.  Our director for this production, Allan Jones, has chosen three one-act plays from Noel Coward’s series Tonight at 8.30 although it has to be noted that we shall be starting the performance at 7.30 p.m. prompt!

You can read a brief synopsis of the plays on our What’s On page.  Ticket application forms will be sent out during the next few weeks and a link to the form will be appearing on the website.

The three plays are quite different and will give our actors the opportunity to show their range and abilities and for four new members to make their debuts.

We are very pleased to announce that our President and founder, Enid Burdon, will be celebrating her 90th birthday during the Spring production and we shall be asking friends and members to join us in the celebration after the performance on Saturday 5th April.  If you are a former club member and would like to attend the party please make sure you book your tickets for that night and join us afterwards – we shall be very pleased to see you.

Joan Hillery Robinson

GDC Chairman

6th February 2014

An Ideal Husband

An Ideal Husband – Gainford Drama Club [Teesdale Mercury November 2013]

WHEN it comes to Oscar Wilde my knowledge goes from The Importance of Being Earnest to The Happy Prince and Other Tales for children. But thanks to Gainford Drama Club I have now been introduced to An Ideal Husband. It has been brilliantly adapted by Chairman, Director and Producer Joan Hillery Robinson which has created a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.100_2511

From the curtain opening you know that a treat is in store as you are greeted with a visually stunning scene from the set to the costumes and the jewellery, which if you know the play does feature later in the story.
Although An Ideal Husband was first performed in 1895 the plot of political corruption and blackmail is timeless. The story revolves around Sir Robert Chiltern, Allan Jones, a respected politician whose marriage and career are threatened by attempts of blackmail by Mrs Cheveley, Jean McCann.100_2533

There are so many delightfully witty one liners, which are well delivered. It makes such a change to see a gentle comedy with an exciting plot so well performed. My favourite moments were the scenes between Lord Goring, Tom Brown and Mabel Chiltern, Emma Simpson. They were an absolute delight to watch and they certainly had some of the best lines between them. Emma Simpson had her characters mannerisms to perfection with a voice to match. This does not take away anything from the cast as a whole as the characterisation they produced was excellent and it was obvious they had put 110% into everything giving me the feeling that I really did spend an evening in the late 1800s.

An Ideal Husband was yet another brilliant production from Gainford Drama Club.

Autumn News 2013

Rehearsals are well underway for our autumn production An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde.  This has been abridged for the drama club by our Chairman Joan Hillery Robinson who is also the director and producer.  Oscar Wilde may have approved of this as he said himself that he thought the play too long.  It is a witty story of romance, insider trading and scandal and was extremely popular with Victorian and Edwardian audiences running for over a hundred performances.

Many of the themes of An Ideal Husband were influenced by the situation Oscar Wilde found himself in during the early 1890s.  The play is about a hidden scandal, blackmail and the inability of a man to share his faults and failings with his wife.  Wilde’s own life with his wife Constance, seems never very far from the play.

The enduring popularity of the play is undoubtedly down to its wit and humour.  Wilde cleverly emphasises the hypocrisy of society, minor characters are an important vehicle for this theme constantly portrayed as two-faced, saying one thing one moment the turning round to say the exact opposite (to great comic effect).  For example, Lord Caversham exclaims near the end of the play that Mabel displays a great deal of common sense after earlier stating that ‘common sense is the privilege of our sex’.

The narrative of the play focuses on political corruption, the story of scandal in the life of a politician and the threat of press exposure is a theme which has had relevance in every decade over the last hundred years and will doubtless continue to do so.

October 2013