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Laughs aplenty as St Nicolas Players return to South Holland Centre stage



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REVIEW: A Bunch of Amateurs, performed by St Nicolas Players, at the South Holland Centre, Spalding, on Wednesday, March 16, 2022

St Nicolas Players were the first amateur group to appear at the new South Holland Centre back in 1998, after its refurbishment from the old Civic Centre, so it was fitting they were once again the first to tread the boards after a two-year hiatus because of Covid-19.

After a successful comeback in November, when the Players performed Spirit Level at Spalding Services and Social Club, they chose another comedy for their Centre show, and what a good choice it was.

St Nicolas Players (55514507)
St Nicolas Players (55514507)

The auditorium was probably not as full as they would have hoped for an opening night, but there was laughter from the start as a talented cast certainly made sure those who did attend got their money's worth.

Co-written by the talented Ian Hislop, the play centres around faded Hollywood actor Jefferson Steel, tricked into starring in an English amateur charity production of King Lear.

Staying in a local village B&B and actually learning lines isn't what the former A-lister is used to and his massive ego is soon tested to the limit by the 'bunch of amateurs' trying to put on the best performance possible to save their theatre.

St Nicolas Players (55514509)
St Nicolas Players (55514509)

Eventually, his lothario reputation comes back to bite him on the backside and puts the whole production at risk, before the two very different worlds somehow come back together and the show does go on.

There were some really great performances here, but the stand-out actor was Adam Pateman who was faultless as Jefferson Steel. His delivery, his facial expressions, his posture – all were spot on and he was totally believable.

Richard Slade also excelled as the irritating solicitor Nigel Dewbury, getting his character's pomposity off to a tee while, like Pateman, still mastering a whole load of Shakespeare lines.

Laura Harwood was given some of the funniest scenes as the lovelorn Mary Plunkett, but she still had to master their execution – and she did so with aplomb. Emma Dobbs as director Dorothy Nettle was also assured, commanding the stage during one particular scene when an on-stage medical emergency made it seem her dreams of saving the theatre were finally doomed.

St Nicolas Players (55514503)
St Nicolas Players (55514503)

Glen Barker, who along with Pateman, was superb in Spirit Level, was also blessed with plenty of opportunities to milk laughs as Dennis Dobbins, and he milked it to the max with a masterful comedy performance.

Kelly Taylor nailed her role as the play sponsor's bubbly and brassy wife Lauren Bell, while Lauren Bullock was convincing as Jefferson's daughter Jessica. Along with Pateman, her American accent never faltered.

The play was a fitting one to come back with as it features a company very like St Nicolas Players, one where talented people leave behind their ordinary lives and jobs to test themselves on the stage.

St Nicolas Players (55514501)
St Nicolas Players (55514501)

As Mary says: "It is our chance to step outside our own ordinary lives, to create something bigger than ourselves."

Performances continue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm. For tickets, click here or call 01775 764777.

St Nicolas Players (55514496)
St Nicolas Players (55514496)
St Nicolas Players (55514484)
St Nicolas Players (55514484)


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