Saturday 3 December 2016

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

This hilarious show, based on a short story by Oscar Wilde and bearing all the hallmarks of his wit and characterisations, proved a great success.

"Here we see the iconic characters of intelligent butler and nice but dim Lord, brought to life, and in unusual close up for me as I was in the first row for a change... Using the ease of well known characters the audience are quick to engage with the action, in the comfort of thinking they know what to expect, amusement soon rippling around the theatre. But brilliant and very amusing surprises are waiting. The cast instantly produce really vivacious, strong characters that were so easy to warm to, you could feel the pleasure of the audience in every burst of laughter. With the cast working so well together creating realistic relationships both loving, and not. With a stunning set, and some excellent props and FX this is one to sit back and relish. So if you like classic comedy that is full of solid characters and explosive energy don’t miss this." Mark M

"Once again a great show at the Sewell Barn! An explosive and finely executed comedy which kept us highly entertained. It was full of energy and enthusiasm and the cast were clearly enjoying themselves. Excellent." Barnaby M

"Just back from the last night of this fabulous production! Well done Rob and all the cast! You milked all the humour and then some!!" Robin S

"Well done to Matt Scantlebury tonight - sterling performance chap, always a class act to watch. Also Nic Myers, brilliantly played, best comedic tears ever, finally Chloe Norris great little cameo role." Martin R

"Really enjoyed the show last night, well done. People: go and see Matt Scantlebury in his play - very fine comedy acting." Chris T

"Well, that was fantastic fun, well set, brilliantly acted and engaging to the end. I kept expecting to know what the next faux pas would be but the twists kept me guessing, and laughing! Well done all involved with Lord Arthur!" Emma K

"A most enjoyable evening . Haven't laughed so much in ages. Well done to all the cast!" Karen S

"Took a friend last night. Lord Arthur Savile's Crime turned out to be a wonderful piece of whimsy, deftly handled by the cast. We were tickled pink and came away grinning broadly. Not bad from two hard bitten theatre goers :)"Annette B

"Went tonight and was great - funny! Happy to go again... It was hilarious - highly recommend this show - some great comedy performances. " Jo M

"Really enjoyed myself this evening, well done to all the cast and crew especially Rob Morris [director]." Ruth H

"This was such fun to watch. Well done to all involved." Ruth E

Saturday 22 October 2016

Accolade: reviews

Accolade, by Emlyn Williams, has been the first show of the 2016/17 season, and we've been delighted to receive wonderful feedback. The comments below come from Facebook and Twitter, and you can also click on the photo at the end of this post to see messages on our foyer chalkboard from our audiences.

"Congratulations to Clare Williamson and her team for their production of Accolade at the Sewell Barn Theatre. It was a truly gripping play and beautifully interpreted in all aspects . I am glad I was able to get see it and thank you to the Sewell Barn for the opportunity." Clare H

"Well done to the cast and crew of Accolade at The Sewell Barn Theatre. An emotive and crackling performance dealing with issues as relevant today as when first written. A great opener to the new season - well done all." Angela R

"Great night at Accolade - fantastic show... Lots to talk about all the way home (is Will a bad man?!). Actors, set, lighting, costumes...all top notch. Well done Clare Williamson on brilliant direction - looking forward to our next visit to the barn already!" Becky A

"Fantastic show 'Accolade' at the Sewell Barn today. Wonderful performances and I am proud to say that I know so many of them. Well done to all the cast, director and stage management team." Wendy A

"The performance tonight was honed to perfection... thoroughly rehearsed, highly charged and very emotional... I loved the "off text" action and reaction, the pace was cracking, direction assured... and I could hear every word... good start to your joint debut season...." Malcolm R

"Accolade; deserves nothing but accolades." Solveig E

"Just come out of @sewellbarn's production of Emlyn Williams' "Accolade". So powerful, so intense in exploring personal vice and its effect." David W

"Absolutely loved Accolade. Totally gripped by the plot throughout and loved the complexity of the characters. My daughter and I were discussing it all the way home - trying to decide whether we blamed Will or not for his actions. This is a play that will stay with me - thank you Clare Williamson and cast. Particular congrats to Will Sellgren for a mesmerising Ian - up there with the West End version! Your old drama teacher is very proud! So lucky to see such quality theatre at an affordable price." Sian D

"Went to see Accolade at the Sewell Barn. A brilliant production of this play by Emlyn Williams. Although written in the 1950s it is still so relevant today. The direction and acting brought out the subtle nuances of each character. Funny, tragic sometimes uncomfortable viewing but so very watchable. Well done all involved! PS - They used real books on stage. I'm told the titles were relevant to the play! It is on tonight, Friday and Saturday - get to see it if you can." Etta G

"Well done, Clare Williamson. Really enjoyed the performance of  'Accolade' at the Sewell Barn Theatre." Richard E

"Had a great night seeing Emlyn Williams' ACCOLADE at the Sewell Barn Theatre! Perfect performance as Phyllis, Ruth! Everyone was amazing - my friend and I were in awe, and felt very privileged to have this high standard of production happening on our doorstep. Congratulations all xx" Jen A

"What a cracking start to the new season! I was in the audience on the first night of Accolade and it is definitely one not to be missed! Clare, the director, has captured the era perfectly and the production is a controlled and measured one. There is a very talented cast, I will not single anyone out ... all the characters are totally believable. We agonise with Will for his mistakes whilst feeling irritated with him at the same time! We feel for his poor long suffering wife and hope that his agent will knock some sense into him! Will's son is a typical gauche teenager who is too naive for his own good! The almost sinister arrival of a visitor all adds to the suspense. light relief is added by the 'fun' loving couple from the pub Will frequents and I will say no more ... go and see for yourselves! You will not regret it." Jill F [Chair - Sewell Barn Committee]

"Huge congrats to Clare Williamson and all your wonderful cast on a superb first night of Accolade at Sewell Barn! Particularly liked the comment from the Italian guy in the row next to me who's staying with some local friends and said it was not only a brilliantly written play but a fantastic cast and the best evening at the theatre he'd ever had in England. Well done guys, keep it going for the rest of the run!" Selwyn T [Secretary - Sewell Barn Committee]

"What a superb and challenging production. I have never seen Accolade before, so did not know what to expect. Great performances all round. As an audience we were very engrossed. Well done." Barnaby M

"...a really enjoyable play with our friend Joanie Gray in it. Well done Joanie - you and the whole ensemble were fantastic! A great evening. :-) xxx" Maxine S

We have also received a splendid and insightful review from Mark Mobbs:

"We all have many personalities that we use or choose to reveal at certain times and occasion’s. How these personalities affect our behaviour can also be very revealing. We do assume people have ‘codes’ that they live by constantly, whatever the situation they would not deviate unless extremely provoked. But what about someone with a dark side a real Jekyll and Hyde character?

Take an acclaimed writer; he must have a very fertile imagination to write the ‘artistic’ works he is famed for, they couldn’t be his actual experiences, or could they? We are drawn into the ‘lives’ of this writer, we feel sympathy for him as a character as his ‘problems’ become apparent, after all who hasn’t been ‘naughty’ sometimes, he wouldn’t ever do anything really bad would he?

His character is reflected in the ‘friends’ he chooses, at times they seem to be like aspects of his personality separated off and solidified. The agent, solid, sensible and controlled, trying to serve, protect and manage her friend but also knowing some of his secrets. And the ‘secretary’ a glimpse of his past, a working class wide boy who has fallen into good times.

The ‘darker’ side characters show the fun he has away from his normal life in the physicality of a very ‘alive’ naughty couple of characters, lively and vivacious, drinking, giggling with childish amusement, or showing macho energy and front, both characters promiscuous and amoral, but getting so much fun from it, there are no barriers to enjoyment here.

Then the, at first, very weak and dubious ‘wronged’ character (yes spoiler alert) confronts and makes demands that seem a bit vague, but later become more threatening as he reveals his real strength of character.

Another positive character is his wonderful wife, full of care, energy and passion, supporting , and possibly creating, the acclaimed side of him.

There have been plays at this special Theatre that slap you in the face with their action and physicality, the audience having to mind the blood on the floor when they came in. This one is different. Here you gradually become deeply engaged and feeling for the characters as the tale unravels, a slow burner but with some wonderful reveals, but the slap is still there waiting.

Spend an evening with this energised cast of characters, you will, of course, enjoy the production, but it will also make you think, and surely that is what great ‘Art’ is supposed to do?"

Friday 15 July 2016

The History Boys: reviews

The History Boys was a resounding success - both artistic and financial. The show was an almost total sell-out, and the feedback from our audiences on social media was wonderful.

Here are some reactions from Facebook:

"Outstanding performance last night by all the cast. A wonderful evening of entertainment, thank you." Kathryn W

"Top marks all round! Wonderful play about the quality of humanity and its transforming role in education. So many good things it's unfair to pick one name, but I have to say that David White as Hector, the teacher who all teenagers deserve, brings perfectly-judged sympathy, humour and understated wisdom to this key role. And the boys? They are a class of all the talents. Thank you Michelle Montague (director) for an evening to remember." David N

"Well done Michelle and all, a great production." Kirsten R

"I had very high hopes for the production of The History Boys at Sewell Barn this evening with Charlie Skinner and David Nicholas Green and I was not disappointed. All those who know me, know how critical I am when it comes to the theatre and how high my standards are, so when I say that it was like watching a professional company I mean it. Congratulations to the director as the brilliant yet demanding script and the space available must have made the task challenging but I can say ,with ease, that the direction appeared faultless and creative. The whole cast played their characters with excellent timing, depth and subtlety. I especially admired the seamless and creative scene changes. A thoughtful, funny and heartfelt performance of a brilliant play and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Congratulations to all involved xxx" Laura W

"Absolutely brilliant production of The History Boys last night. Really believed the boys were in class together for many years! Excellent." Barnaby M

"What an amazing show... everything about it... lost for words... so much to take in that I may have to go back again next week. Massive congratulations to everyone involved." Ruth H

"Congratulations to all of you in the cast. A fantastic performance which captured the poignancy, power and humour of Alan Bennett's great play. You brought 80s Yorkshire (and beyond) to life superbly. Loved it." John B

"Incredible professional performances all round, well done to everyone." Matthew D

"Great opening night! Congratulations to the whole company, you have a brilliant show xxx" Rachel L

"Went to see a wonderful, thought provoking production of The History Boys at Sewell Barn tonight. Huge congratulations to Miche Montague and her team. This was a marvellous, creative and absorbing interpretation. I loved the songs too! Pass it on, pass it on and go see it while you can!" Clare W

"The History Boys at the Sewell Barn was bloody brilliant! Well done to David Nicholas Green, Charlie Skinner, and everyone else involved!" Victoria P

"Congratulations to the cast and crew of History Boys. Went to see the show last night and it is both a credit and testament to the work of Miche Montague. Not just on this production, not just her work at Sewell Barn, but her work in the wider Norwich drama community. The sheer strength and ability of the boys in this production (all of whom have come through the ranks at the Theatre Royal under Miche's teaching and mentorship) is a delight. I'm sure they would have given the boys in the original professional production a run for their money. This isn't intended as a review but I feel I have to call out two exceptional performances: Luke McCulloch (Posner) and Joe Darbyshire (Dakin) pulled out performances way beyond their years. I'm sure both have a very bright future in the profession. Luke's natural ability and timing is a rare, innate, talent (possibly a future stand up comedian?) and Joe's brooding stage presence clearly demonstrates that he has "it". This is not to denigrate any of the other performances. this was a show that relied on the ability of a strong ensemble performance. And they all delivered in spades... An absolute credit to Sewell Barn. Well done." Nick M

Elsewhere online, we've had a lovely review from Deborah at Outline; you can read the whole article here. "A well produced and very enjoyable version of this play."

and Twitter:

" 'History is just one thing after another' but History Boys is one great scene after another. Catch it @sewellbarn a must-see" @jbultitude

"Saw @LukeMcCulloch as Posner in #TheHistoryBoys @sewellbarn lst night. What a fantastic performance! So very proud." @theactorsclass

Friday 10 June 2016

Brimstone & Treacle: reviews

Photography: Sean Owen of Reflective Arts
From the very first performance, we have been delighted with the positive feedback on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

"Sometimes the Sewell Barn offers up a production or a performance that is outstanding, even stellar. Personally, for me it has happened on two occasions: the chilling production of Festen, a couple of years ago, and Joe Wills Derbyshire as Caligula, last season, will always stand out in my memory, and last night I saw a production and performances that rank with those two.

Brimstone and Treacle, superbly directed by Jen Dewsbury, and featuring riveting performances by the cast, will long remain in my memory. Jonathan Massey was diabolically intense as Martin, and was admirably matched by the gentle, trusting, hopeful persona portrayed by Abbe Swain as Mrs Bates. These two commanded one's attention throughout the play. Sabrina Diane Poole performed the difficult role of the catatonic daughter with sympathy and intensity, and Stewart Thompson .showed us the dark politically loathsome side of Tom Bates well. A fantastic, uncomfortable , and perversely enjoyable event. Congratulations to you all."

"Go and see Brimstone & Treacle - strange and unsettling, brilliantly acted!"

"Amazing first night. Well done to all involved."

"Congratulations to @sewellbarn for a great opening night of Brimstone and Treacle. Powerful performances and excellent direction. Well done!"

"Really powerful production of Brimstone and Treacle at @sewellbarn tonight. Strong, committed cast - @JPPMassey and @Sabz_101 outstanding!"

"Brimstone and Treacle...amazing, horrifying, funny, sad. Don't miss it, well done to all the cast and crew you were brilliant."

"WOW - all of the above and more, well done to all!"

"Superb production of "Brimstone and Treacle" tonight. Sabrina Poole was outstanding as Pattie. A great theatre experience."

"Excellent production as always, superb ambiance, superlative acting, great set..."

"Brimstone and Treacle. Sewell Barn. Awesome. You watch a play and you wish you were worthy of the words to describe the depth, the acting, the direction. It was, everything you could watch from such a hideous story."

"F*** me backwards! That was intense. If you haven't seen Brimstone &Treacle yet, get your ass off the sofa and go do it at Sewell Barn Theatre before the last show. Laughed! Cried! Wanted to get out of my seat with the sheer amount of angry. turns out I work with one of the lovely, talented actors doing their amazing thing tonight. Seriously! Go see it before it's gone. Thank you muchly for the invite Wendy. It was awesome but I feel I need a bit of emotional recovery after that xD lol"

Saturday 14 May 2016

The Burial at Thebes: reviews

The first night is over, and we're thrilled to have received several overwhelmingly positive responses already this morning. The show plays tonight (14 May) and tomorrow, and then resumes Wednesday 18 to Saturday 21. Why not come along and see what all the fuss is about?

"I saw The Burial at Thebes tonight. It was a great production of a great play with a visceral translation by Seamus Heaney. Really good work by David Nicholas Green, his cast and creative team!"

"I want to pass on my praise for the burial at Thebes last night. The audience was scandalously small for such fine performances. Beautiful set and language. Very moving in places. Thanks to you all. I truly hope you get better audiences."

"Many congratulations on a stirring piece of theatre."

"This was one of the most amazing productions I have seen for a long time. It's so rare to get the opportunity to see a script such as this (Greek Tragedy) and then for it to be brought to life in such a capable way by David Green I couldn't have asked for more. The set design and "technique" with the sand (I won't give away spoilers, because you just HAVE to see it) was something I had never seen before. David had gathered together a very capable and strong cast who tackled long passages of script with ease and competently took us on a journey. A big well done to everyone involved, get and see this whilst you can."

"Just back from seeing this tonight ... We thought it was superb from the set, acting and directing. Well done all involved. 'It's a must see'."

And a very lovely review here:

"Ok folks, here's a tip for you : 

If you find yourself in need of a dark, thought-provoking, intense, tragic, dramatic, well-acted, imaginatively staged piece of theatre either tonight or tomorrow, I'd suggest you treat yourself and get yourself off to the Sewell Barn. Their current production of 'Burial at Thebes' has only two more days to run and is a quite captivating and entertaining , one-act play. (So it's quite short...)

Huge congratulations all round to the cast, crew and especially whoever designed the stage-set (apologies for the lack of names to drop here - I forgot to grab a programme!) which makes quite the most innovative use of the Barn's space I've seen since their production of 'Bedlam' a couple of years ago. 

Bravo! Outstanding!"

Friday 1 April 2016

The Beauty Queen of Leenane: some lovely reviews

The show opened on Thursday 31 March and has been greeted by several generous and highly appreciative reviews already.

From Facebook:

"Saw a wonderful play at the Sewell Barn last night. Great performances. I mean great! Well done Gilly, Mandy, Christopher and Matt. Make an effort to see it. Great achievement by Team Montague! (The) Beauty Queen of Leenane. See it!"

"Please go and see this. Easily one of my favourite things I have seen at the Sewell Barn."

"Fantastic show, wonderful set, brilliant acting... don't miss it, congratulations to all involved."

From messages:

[to the Director]: "You clever, clever girl. It is a wonderful production, great set, wonderful cast, and seamless direction. 

Gilly was exceptionally good. She has such a presence on stage. Conniving, fearful, malicious and totally believable. I loved her! 

Mandy gave such a heartfelt performance. I so wanted it to end happily for her, but knew in my heart that it wouldn't. Please congratulate her for me.

Christopher Whitley, who is new to me, was lovely. I don't know if he is Irish, but he looked Irish. Soft, gentle and lovable. They would have been so happy!

Matt was funny and real, playing out of his comfort zone. A fine performance, Matt.

So, another winner Ms Montague, well done."

[to the Sewell Barn]: "Spot on performances last night, Sewell Barn company. Lovely use of the space too. We all enjoyed it very much. 3 peeps had never been to SB before but they will defo be back. They couldn't believe the fab standard of production. I was blasé "Oh it's always great here" and I wasn't telling porkies. Thanks SB for keeping really good theatre alive in Norwich."

From Twitter:

"Just seen The Beauty Queen of Leenane, again another amazing performance from @sewellbarn . Defiantly (sic!) recommend going to see."

And finally, a detailed and appreciative view from member Rob Fradley-Wilde:

"On a set so superb that, hours later, one seems to remember the smells of damp and peat smoke [and of course a certain other aroma], which weren't [I trust!] really present, four good actors gave us a grand interpretation of this not exactly profound but definitely rewarding and deservedly famous modern play.

Gill Tichborne's huge competence made a lovely meal of the selfish and cunning Mag, in strife against her disappointed daughter. Mag struck up in us a very happy though slightly horrified fondness, from the word 'go' – if I may put it that way. Maureen was played by Mandy Kiley with the consummate skill and, I want to say, a kind of fluidity, that enables this actress to so often completely become her character, and in this specific case, to play so believably with the movements of its fragile struggling mind. Another immaculate performance came from Christopher Whitley, very natural and true; what I shall always think of now as the ladder soliloquy moved everyone in the theatre. Indeed, I don't know if it has happened on other nights, but each of the play's scenes ended with spontaneous applause. Whitley's character might just have been a tiny bit too decent, bearing in mind the short time between the letter [definitely not imagined, as the railway station was] and his transatlantic engagement – though he was of course on a sort of rebound. The fourth cast member, Matt Rolls, convinced us admirably as the restless younger brother full of childish and provincial enmities, whose weakness precipitated the tragedies.

Irish accents varying from adequate to excellent; a really full house would have softened the accoustic and perhaps given some of the more dynamic passages a better precision to the ear. Nothing else at all to demur at. Ably and I think cleverly directed by Michelle Montague, this was one of those events where the definitions of amateur and professional overlap and blur into meaninglessness.
A few more performances still. Go if you can, for a very worthwhile and most enjoyable experience. [If for nothing else, it will gladden your heart to witness the strike to the vitals of the Health and Safety movement, delivered by that unsecured ladder and that unfenced platform!] Seriously, though - Thank you, everyone involved at the Sewell Barn, for such continuing excellence."

Monday 15 February 2016

The Irish Guru

Martin McDonagh, the playwright of ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ wished the cast a warm good luck for the upcoming production at Sewell Barn. 

Hi Chris, (Chris is the actor playing the role of Paddy, and somewhat of an Irish guru himself)

The monologue/letter definitely shouldn't be read - it should exist in some strange place between composing it and saying it to Maureen...

The spotlight thing - the director should ignore that completely, i didn't even remember it being there.

Good luck!

Martin xx

To see the production of one of McDonagh’s first plays bought to life, book your tickets for ‘The Beauty Queen of Lennane’ at Sewell Barn Theatre 31 March-2 April & 6-9 April at 7:30 pm Matinee 9 April at 2:30 pm.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Kimberly Biscuits - A Nation Divided

Kimberley biscuitsMcDonagh’s play ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ transports the audience to Emerald Isle, creating the sounds and tastes of Ireland. And what is an Irish home without some Kimberly biscuits in the tin? First made by Jacobs in 1893, and the name reputedly inspired after Rudyard Kipling’s novel “Kim”, the Kimberly is a confection which divides many. The sweet consist of two small brown round biscuits that are soft with a mild ginger flavouring, with a soft marshmallow filling between them, complete with a crust of sugar granules.  While some say they compare to cardboard in taste and texture, others would say they are the very finest biscuits to be produced in the whole of Ireland. 

To continue the debate (and to see an excellent dark comedy, which really is about more than just biscuits) book your tickets for ‘The Beauty Queen of Lennane’ at Sewell Barn Theatre  31 March-2 April & 6-9 April at 7:30 pm Matinee 9 April at 2:30 pm.