Review: Still Life and White Liars, Chellaston Players

WL-SL posterChellaston Players have presented an impressive 100 shows in their 40-year history and if the latest is anything to go by they will be entertaining us with many more in the future.

What is striking about this group of amateur dramatists is that they have a wide range of ages getting involved both on stage and in the wings.

Attracting young talent and keeping them interested is always a challenge but Chellaston seemed to have pulled it off.

To celebrate their anniversary the group staged a double-bill of drama with Noel Coward’s Still Life and Peter Shaffer’s White Liars.

Both centre on relationships and the tangled webs of deceit woven in the name of love. Still Life was filmed in 1945 as Brief Encounter and tells the of the love between Laura and Alec after a chance meeting at a railway station café. White Liars revolves around fortune teller Sophie Lemburg and two young men who try to manipulate what she sees in her magic ball.

The sets at St Peter’s Church Hall were minimalist, which worked well for the station cafe setting of Coward’s play but was a little confusing for the other. You were never quite sure where the characters were unless they were at Sophie’s fortune telling table.

The cast of 11 varied in experience and confidence but they all worked hard and with enthusiasm to present a very good evening’s entertainment.

The standout performance was by Cathy Wilson as Sophie Lemburg in White Liars. She had not only an accent to contend with but also a great deal of dialogue. She played the part with gusto and deserves massive congratulations.

Dannielle Arme who was in her first role with the Players was spot-on with her modern day portrayal of Laura in Still Life and Ben Smith played the smitten Alec Harvey convincingly.

Stealing the show in Still Life though were very definitely Jim Wilson as Albert and Clare Snape as Myrtle Bagot. Their timing was perfect and they delighted the audience as their romance blossomed in the café.

The rest of the cast in Still Life were Katherine Sheldrake as Beryl Waters, Liam Mason as Stanley, Bethany Madden as Mildred, Elaine Lawrenson as Dolly Messiter, Phillip Hodgkiss as Bill and also as Frank in White Liars and Edward Pickering-Symes as Johnnie and also Tom in White Liars.

Bill Ramsbottom was director, Elaine Lawrenson, assistant director, John Howarth, set design and lighting, Laura Howarth, publicity and box office, Elaine Madden, properties, Ollie Wilson, sound technician, Ben Walker, sound effects and Greg Lunn, stage manager.

The double-bill can be seen until June 13 at 7.30pm.