Thursday, 22 December 2011

Maurice Huggett

I'm afraid there's been some bad news, as Maurice Huggett, our genial landlord, passed away on December 18th. There's a fond appreciation here, in the Daily Telegraph.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

It's Christmas!

Is is that time of year again? It does come around so quickly these days, doesn't it? A short play by Lo and Mo, Janice Day and her ukelele, poetry, songs and Silas Hawkins, a raffle and a pantomime from Tim Gambrell. And that's just a flavour. There is even some prize-giving. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without'em.

Monday, December 12th. Fun starts at 7.

Friday, 2 December 2011


At last! Owing to a waterlogged stage it got postponed from its initial reading. It got its reading, did well, and the call went out for some moolah to put it on. The dosh came in and Lexy Howe's two-hander set in a sauna is finally coming to the stage. It's at the Tristan Bates, and starts this Monday. Of course, you'll all be coming to P-P then, but it's on for the rest of the week too. Lexy didn't just write it, she's in it too. And there's a reduction for members when you book. The discount code is Lexy1.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Lost Stradivarius

December 5th brings us another musical without music from Katy Darby. That is, it's the book of a musical, so we don't get to hear the songs. This is exactly what Katy did last year with Girlfriends, and it was a riproaring success, winning the best play of the year award. Can she do it again? Come along on Monday at 7.45 to find out. It's a Victorian ghost story based on a novella by J. Meade Falkner who wrote Moonfleet, which later became the Fritz Lang movie. The characters have all got surnames like Maltravers and Gaskell, and I rather suspect it concerns a violin that goes missing. I could be wrong.

Hen Night - the review

Here's Peter Thompson's report:

The Autumn Competition was staged on 21 November 2011 and the theme was HEN NIGHT. It was intended to provoke writers into providing lots of parts for our female acting members. And so it did: it was a pleasure to see Lucy Brooks, Christa Engelbrecht, Pandora McCormick, Hannah Mercer and Jane Osborne, among others, strutting their stuff. But the feminist cause suffered a little. A more suitable title might have been WOMEN BEHAVING BADLY, but there you go.
We had 10 titles in the coop and only one disqualification (for over-running). This was Mary Conway’s A BROODY STORY about a gathering of unfulfilled 30-something women whose evening was almost saved by the arrival of Daniel Dresner and James Sutherland.
Carrie Eden’s ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL was about a feisty trio preparing to indulge their passion for scantily clad men. Not Musketeers but, would you believe, Mosquitos! [193 points]. Just ahead, with 222 points, was Jan Harris’s ALL ABOUT EVE in which the bride’s girlfriends had to break the news to her that her bridegroom was gay. That came as no surprise to us in the audience having seen his gyrations; nor to the girl he was marrying, who knew exactly what she wanted. Just ahead of that [229] was AFTER THE BATTLE a tale of rape and pillage after the fall of Badajoz [1812, Iberian Peninsula War, keep up at the back there], told as only Giles Armstrong can tell it. The twist was that the sex-hungry militia were female conscripts, so Senora Andrea Kristina’s honour was saved, but Max Warrick was dragged from the cellar for a gang bang until mercifully the author called Time.
In fifth place, with 235 points, were A COMEDY IN FOUR SCENES by Jethro Dykes and MELTDOWN by Debbie Maya. In the former the party giver, Andrea Kristina again, spent all night practising her Shakespearian lines and was awarded the part at next day’s audition by a grateful Christopher Prior, grateful because it was the only line he had all evening. Meanwhile the overworked Max Warrick was making out in MELTDOWN, having casual sex with Suzie Kendall. Nice work if you can get it.
The two plays in third position with 260 points raised the tone a teeny bit. In Mark Brown’s WEDDING BELLS the bride-to-be was deeply ashamed of having touched a male stripper (yes it was Suzie Kendall in trouble again) and confessed it to her groom who was so deeply ashamed that he decided to dump her. In Peter Vincent’s DAY OLD CHICKS (aka A LIFETIME OF SHOWING OFF) Phil Philmar and Anthea Courtenay got a new start in life when their hen hatched a dinosaur.
Now for the final two. Would Bill Gordon be Cock of the Walk again with his NAKED VENGEANCE? Not this time: a mere 307 points. Philip (Philmar) Marlowe was lured into a girlie hen party in a frilly apron (nothing else) where his mother-in-law, Denise O’Leary, was waiting for him, and everything went black….. The winner, with 308 points, was a play by Kevin and Chris O’Connor that summed up the evening: BOAT HOUSE SLAPPERS. The scene is a pub where two hen parties are in progress, some ladettes getting drunk in one and some veteran players (Anthea and Elizabeth Yuill) in the other, celebrating a 50th something or other; and all of them waiting for their men to arrive. Eventually Smith Lowe turns up on his own and they all lay claim to him: he has apparently been servicing each of them in turn, unknown to the others. I said it wasn’t very edifying, but hey, it was an entertaining evening, brilliantly organised by our new Competitions Secretary, Fiona McGee.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A Reflection in Time

Monday 28 November brings us the welcome return of Roger Mayhew. Here's his take on his new, hour long stageplay:

"Although Harold and his fiancĂ©e Amy live in different parts of the country they are in constant communication with each other. As the New Year dawns – a year of national celebration – they face the challenge of trying to plan their future together. The play charts the development of their relationship during this one year……".

It stars Fiona McKinnon and, after an even longer period away recovering from getting married, former actor of the year Tim Gambrell. Say hello to them all at 7.45 on Monday.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hen Night

It's that time again. Conkers, clocks going forward and the autumn leaves are the first signs, and the second is the John Lewis ad and the big displays at the supermarket. Yes, Winterval will soon be upon us, which means the term is nearing its end, which means it's... Competition Time! The time for all our writers to fight it out to the death, and our newest actors to show us what they are made of.

This term's theme is Hen Night. I'll be very disappointed if there isn't one piece at least about chickens. See you on Monday.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Russian Play

There was some confusion about the scheduling of "A Russian Play" last week. Well, it's on this week, Monday November 14th. It's by new writer John Thompson, and is a tragi-comedy set in Petrograd in 1916. It's already got a production lined up for The Lion & The Unicorn in Kentish Town from 7th Feb-26th Feb 2012. The parts include the following:

Fyodor: A consumptive, hyper-sensitive and very deluded writer in his twenties;

Alexei: A larger-than-life, mercurial revolutionary (also in his twenties);

Alosha: A naive young man from the country, who comes to Petrograd to seek his fortune;

Vladamir: A sinister secret service agent (in his early fifties ).

Come along on Monday at 7.45 to see what the good people of Kentish Town have in store for them.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Spring Chix Confidential & Don't Call Me Gran

Two weeks after Brokeback Britain went down a storm, Player-Playwrights bring you another show that got cancelled from this year's Camden Fringe. Let me quote the press release:

The Spring Chix - Julia Collier and Clare Jones - have been flying around the comedy circuit in London and Margate and are now returning to their Camden Fringe nest for the third year running with an absolutely fab new sketch show.
'Chix Confidential' exposes the dark (overweight) underbelly of rampant youthfulness. Sexy cougars and puerile pussies purr their way into - and out of - cosmetically enhanced loveliness.
Their comic sketches and new 'dance' routines are not to be missed. Unless Clare dislocates a hip at her new Zumba classes or Julia falls off her bike again - but then for her it's just an achievement to be back in the saddle.
The Chix write and perform their own take on life, with additional writing by journalist Lyndsey Jones and cartoonist Judith Walker.
Julia and Clare have been writing and performing sketch comedy since 2005 and starred in The Seven Ages of Woman at the Camden Fringe last year and Super Birds Are Go! in 2009. The comedy duo have backgrounds in acting and dance: a young Clare danced on BBC tv's 'Come Dancing' before ballroom became cool. More recently, the Chix perfomed their sketches in revue at one of the oldest theatres in Britain, the Margate Theatre Royal, to local acclaim: 'I nearly wet my knickers'and 'I laughed and then cried'.

Then, after a short break, we will have a thirty minute radio pilot, Don't Call Me Gran by Ian Davidson and Peter Vincent. Aside from writing legendary TV comedy Sorry! they are the brains behind the current radio 4 smash When The Dog Dies which also stars Ronnie Corbett. So there must be a pretty good chance that this will also end up on the radio. Come along to P-P at 7.45 on Monday 7th of November to find out what all the fuss will be about.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

"Quietly entertaining, brilliantly original"

There is one week left to see Player-Playwrights first production - Country Life at the Old Red Lion. If you're poor, come on Thursday for Pay What You Can Night. If you're rich, you're welcome any time!


Less than two years ago both Napoleon Ryan and Sherrill Turner went to Hollywood. This is one of the many things they've been up to.

The Maids

It seems like only yesterday when I was writing about a production of the Maids starring a P-P member. Now along comes another one. This time it's Philippa Tatham at the Tower Theatre and it runs from November 15th to the 19th.

Friday, 28 October 2011


Monday 31st October brings us the AGM. There will be a fair amount to discuss: new committee members, new Programme Secretary, Player-Playwrights' first ever production, maybe even a new venue. Come along at 7.45. It's free!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Brokeback Britain

Two P-P shows got cancelled at this year's Camden Fringe. One for personal reasons, the other, because of the looters. Both are now a part of the Autumn Programme and the first, Brokeback Britain, is coming this Monday, October 24th to the Phoenix. Here's how the press release read back in August:

"Brokeback Britain is a satirical sketch show taking a skewed look at the Wild West State of UK 2011. Starring a government no one voted for, where all the banks have been robbed by the bankers and even the snake oil salesmen have been cut. Is Coalition Britain coalescing or falling apart? Are we turning into a cowboy country or the land of the free? Is Ed Milliband going to get an adenoidectomy? The show is a series of sketches about life under Dave and Nick. It's not merely political.

We'll look at how life is being lived in the Tenties. Is Western Civilisation having its last gasp? Will the cuts destroy us? Or the binge drinking? Or will the asteroid sneak in first? The tone is satire but the vehicle will be humour.

Brokeback Britain brings together a team of some of London's finest comedy writers and professional actors. It is produced by Eamon McDonnell and Tony Kirwood. Eamon has written two plays for the Camden Fringe: the sell-out 'Safe House' 2009 and 'Tell It Like It Is' 2010. Tony produced Sketchaholics at Westminster Reference Library last year. He has written for many UK and European sketch shows."

Has it changed? How has it changed? Last time, it would have cost you 9 pounds to see it. On Monday, it's just two. Be there.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Getting an Audience on the Fringe

Monday 17th brings us a night of conversation. First up, Greg Tallent, who runs the London Fringe, will come and discuss the vexed issue of getting an audience. As someone whose own plays opens the next night, I shall be following this with keen interest. It's all very well begging friends and family, and sending press releases to all those websites and newspapers you've never heard of. But then what? Greg has confounded his critics when he set this up three years ago, and should be well worth listening to.

After that, there will be a discussion of what we all felt about this year's Camden Fringe: the highs and lows, trials and tribulations. Two of our plays have transferred, and one is getting published by Samuel French. Two got cancelled, one for private reasons, one because of looting.

Find out about all this and more, on Monday, 7.45 at the Phoenix.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Best of the Boroughs

Eamon McDonnell's ceaseless production continues. He's been the script adviser/editor for Eastern Edge Film Fund, which is an umbrella film fund for the three boroughs of Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest, and at the recent Film London Bobs [Best of Boroughs] their three films were shortlisted for the 2011 Award ceremony held at Bafta on 7 September. Indeed, the Jury was so impressed by the quality of films entered that they added two further Highly Commended prizes for this year! And Eastern Edge Film Fund swept all four awards - Jury Prize, two HCs and the Audience award.
The films are also showing on Monday 24 October at the London Film Festival under the title London's Calling. However, they've now sold out, which at least means there is no dilemma for P-P members.

So, Hats off to Eamon!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Those of us who suffered the benefit of a classical education might recall the town of the title. All those wars with the Romans, stealing booty and the like. How many Punic wars were there, anyway? Well, October 10ths offering is not a prototype for a Toga saga, it's a contemporary urban drama. As Chris Thompson, its new-to-us writer explains:

"Who do you blame when no-one is guilty?

The Institutionalised take on the institution in this play about guilt, blame and the power of the human touch".

Return of Country Life

Considering we had two of the P-P shows cancelled at this year's Camden Fringe, we've got a pretty good track record for those that actually made it to the stage. Pandora's Boxes made it to the Rosemary Branch, and my very own Country Life is now getting a transfer to the Old Red Lion in Islington. It's a three week run, from October 18th to November 5th ( that's right, it ends on Bonfire Night. There's an irony ).

Same cast, same play, different set. See you there, I hope!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Getting It Off My Chest

Fresh from her triumphant role in Jan Harris's The fan and the STAR and the Star and the FAN at Rada, Janice Day now writes and plays a one hander based on her own memoir about surviving breast cancer.... I'm sure it's funnier than it sounds!

Anyway, it's on October 3rd at the Phoenix. If I were crass I could make puns about Phoenix from that flames, but I'm not that sort of person.

Sweatbox - the Production

Lexy Howe's fine one act play which got a reading back in February last year is at last inching its way to its first production. All she needs is cash. Three thousand pounds to be precise. If you fancy being an angel, here's the place. Better than investing in gold, anyway.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Just One Day

September 26 brings us one of the highlights of the term, a brand new full length stage play by Mary Conway, entitled Just One Day. Let Mary explain:

"The play is set in the kitchen/living room of a converted warehouse near the river in South London. It is late spring.

Inside the building, a disparate group of inhabitants struggle to survive in a hostile world. They have little or nothing in common but somehow conspire to form a kind of symbiosis that allows them steadfastly and determinedly to stay afloat.

Meanwhile in the street outside, a disparate horde of displaced individuals combine to wreak havoc and vent their anger on the world at large.

Into this world of misfits, comes Owen – fresh from greener pastures. Or is he? And what does a charismatic mate like Aston have to answer for? Also, what does a life size statue of Jesus have to do with a prostitute and the overfull rubbish bin?

The plays shows us the detail of just five people’s lives, in all their comedy and pathos, as – like thousands out there – they battle with the vagaries of circumstance, and shoulder the realities of dispossession".

7.45 at the Phoenix.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Another Triple Bill

Always the way. You wait a long time for a triple bill, then along come two, one week after the last lot. Last week they came from a diverse set of sources, but this Monday they are all written by Louise Larchbourne, who has rejoined us recently after many a years absence. Let Louise explain:

"These scripts, one for TV and the other two for radio, emerged from a course I took in order to develop confidence in plotting and making people up. I took to it; of the three, Terence Gets it Out is a comedy with strong hints of the ridiculous – neatly reflecting my impression of life so far, and inspired by an Ayckbourn piece which puts it squarely in an English tradition.
Of the two radio playlets, one is a version of the other, taken to an extreme via the MO of Greek tragedy (more or less); it was written at high speed and with glee. I hope you enjoy them.

I’m developing a couple more as I type".

'Nuff said. Monday at 7.45 at the Phoenix.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Whatever Happened to Napoleon?

A year and a half ago Napoleon left us for the promised land, seeking fame and fortune in Hollywood. Looks like he found it. Here he is, playing an evil British aristocrat oppressing the poor American colonists in a drama set in New Hampshire in 1770.

Won't be long before he's in Lethal Weapon 8, I'm sure.

Our Youngest Member

Monday, 12 September 2011

Scripts wanted

I just got this email, and think it will be on interest to all our theatre writers:

Lion Tamers Theatre Company Call For Scripts


Lion Tamers Theatre Company are looking for talented writers to submit their work for consideration for our first tour, planned for next autumn.
The tour will begin with a run at the Edinburgh Fringe next year followed by a tour of the North West in the autumn of 2012.
This is an amazing opportunity for emerging writers as well as established ones as the company is looking to develop in the area of new writing.
Although we are a new company we are hoping to offer reasonable fees to the successfull applicant as we discuss the project, however the major benefit is to raise the profile of the successfull applicant.
Although rehearsals and casting would be based in Manchester we are more than willing to accept work by writers countrywide.
To apply for this exciting opportunity please attach some samples of your work or else a complete script as the major factor in our decision will of course be the quality of the text.

The Brief

Although there is never a set criteria for play submissions we are looking favourably on plays which meets the following criteria.

 Small cast size
 Full length though capable of reducing to possibly 80 mins length in order to be edited for Edinburgh Fringe.
 Suitable for a broad general audience encompassing a broad variety of tastes.


Please send all submissions and samples of work to the following e-mail address.
For any information do not hesitate to call on 07767886145

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Triple Bill

September 12 at the Phoenix brings us a diverse selection. First up is the return of Jethro Dykes. He gave us some poems last term all concerning the wacky world of acting. Among the appreciation were a few brickbats saying they didn't rhyme enough. Has Jethro changed his ways? Find out on Monday, at 7.45.

After that comes a fifteen minute monologue from Nick Myles, entitled Friends Like Steve. Nick also debuted this year, with the full length stage play Anna's Eyes. This monologue, "the story of Lee, an ordinary bloke whose chance encounter with an old friend has unexpected consequences" is about to get a full performance at the Fifteen Festival at the Space later this month, and is being held out of competition ( as they say at Cannes ). That is to say, rather as with Jethro's pieces, the discussion will be informal, and without marking sheets.

Then, to round things off, we have Debbie Maya's first play for us. I say first, but she has won the competition this year already, so she is no novice to writing. Her piece, The Foot of the Bed, concerns "Delia, who is dying in hospital. At the foot of her bed are her deceased grandparents Bert and Reen who are waiting for her to pass over and take her soul on its journey..."

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Once upon a time it was Kiss and Tell. But five years on, it's been rewritten, revamped and now it makes its debut, tonight at 7.30 at the White Bear, for one week only. It stars our very own Teak Show thesps Johnny Hansler and Jacqui Stirling, and is written by our very own Ritchie Smith.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Venetian Blinds

Hello, hello, we're back again! There's a whole new programme, published in the usual space, and the first piece is a stage play originally scheduled for July. It's called Venetian Blinds, and is by Peter McKelvey. Here's the blurb, as written by his own good self:


7.45 at the Phoenix.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Return of Pandora's Boxes

You can't keep a good play down. Barely has the dust settled on the production at the Etcetera when it rises once again from the grave like another sequel in the Friday the Thirteenth series. Put a stake through the play's heart, freeze him in ice - still he comes back.

There have been one or two cast changes - our very own Victoria Johnston takes one of the female leads, and if they had an up to date photo, would be seen here. But otherwise it's the same play. Same director, same script, and same writer. It's a three week run too, so now you have no excuse.

August 30th till September 17th, at the much more use friendly times of 7.30 Tuesday to Friday, 7 on Saturday, and 6 on Sunday.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Country Life

So here we go. The carnage of the last few days may have put a spoke in some of the Fringe, but there aren't too many shops in Malet Street, which means Player-Playwrights debut production, Country Life, is going ahead. It features Marji Campi, Chris Bearne, and David Forest as the three oldsters fighting it out in Devon. Here's Marji:

And here's Chris:

I'd now show one with David in, but I simply can't find one on youtube. I bet he's in there somewhere, though. Anyway, he's good.

They all are. Good director, good set, good venue. The script isn't so bad, either, though maybe I'm biased. It runs from Monday 15th to Saturday 20th. Do come along. Ten quid for normals, seven for students. Not bad for a full length play. If we break even, then maybe P-P will do this again. If not, well I hope at least some of you come and visit me in my debtor's prison.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Pandora's Boxes and other Goodies

The Camden Fringe is up and running now. Love and Other Games may have ended, but this week there are three openings. the fan & THE STAR & the star & THE FAN, which I mentioned last week, opens at 7 tonight at Rada. Before then, though, is the stage version of Pandora's Boxes, by Denise O'Leary. Last time around it was a radio play. It narrowly missed being put on radio four, instead settling for the unusual surrounds of Resonance FM. Now it's back with the same director, Dimitry Devdariani, but a whole new cast. And it's on at the Etcetera. Four thirty in the afternoon, but we all need an excuse to take the afternoon off, don't we?
Then, for two nights only, comes Eamon McDonnell, in tandem with Tony Kirwood, making his third appearance in three years. This time it's a satirical take on contemporary mores. i.e. a series of sketches. Brokeback Britain starts on Tuesday 9th, again at the Etcetera. Peter Thompson is intending to see all three shows in the same day. Why don't you join him?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

the fan and THE STAR and the star and THE FAN

Some of us with good memories will remember the Fan, by erstwhile Playwright of the Year Jan Harris, which got a reading and further exposure at our showcase, back in the midst of time. Now it's back, in a new production, with a bigger, grander name that reflects it's bigger, grander themes. It stars two Player-Playwright alumni, Janice Day, the celebrated ukeleli-ist, and A.N. Other. ( i.e. I don't know who ) as a Polish taxi driver. Joining them in Jenny Logan, also known as, the Shake and Vac lady.

Here's a teaser.

It starts August 8 and runs to the 13th, 7pm every night at RADA's John Gielgud theatre, Malet Street London WC1E 7JN Box Office 020 79084800. Or, you can book tickets here.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Love and Other Games - the production - UPDATED

The Camden Fringe is almost upon us, and Lisa Fulthorpe's Love and Other Games had a trial run at the Phoenix Artist Club earlier this month. In case you don't remember its very successful reading in April in the very same venue, here's a reminder. They are:

"Four bite-sized comedies about contemporary relationships. A chance encounter, a suburban party, a family meal and a one-night stand are the arenas for these two-handers exploring the games lovers play.

Brutally funny and true to life they’re by award-winning Smack The Pony writer Lisa Fulthorpe. Follow Love and Other Games on facebook or Twitter us @otherlovegames"

I went to see it, and enjoyed it a lot. I can't go next week, because I'm rehearsing Country Life, but that's no excuse for you. So, go along to what happens to be the opening production of this year's Camden Fringe, at the Etcetera Arms. It's Monday 1 to Thursday 4th, starting at 4.30 p.m. So leave work early!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Up In Court - the results

For those who couldn't be there, and for those who did and would like to recapture that glorious, if sweltering, evening, here, is a report on what happened, written by Peter Thompson. You'll see it in the next programme, but they won't be published till August, by which time it might become a distant memory. Anyway...

Six authors were UP IN COURT on 27 June for a variety of misdemeanours. THE PARADISE ISLANDS by Peter Vincent should be mentioned first because it was the only drama set in a recognisable court of law: a civil claim brought against Phil Philmar for serial plagiarism, mostly from TS Eliot. Regrettably it over-ran. This may have been due to the time spent on unavailing efforts to call McCavity to give evidence and on the defendant’s protracted death-bed scene which included floating down a brook, being bitten by an asp and ending with a whimper.

The other play to be disqualified for excessive length was RATTUS NORVEGICUS by Kevin Connor, in which Chris Prior played a Yorkshire rat-catcher (in dialect) and his lady barrister, Fiona McKinnon, tried to find excuses for his frightening Lady Titbury to death by invading her bedroom dressed as a giant rat.

Of the rest, Debbie Maya’s REDEMPTION DAY came fourth with 130 points. It was a trial-in-heaven case in which Giles Armstrong gave a terrifying performance as an unrepentant Adolf Hitler. Bill Gordon’s A SQUEAK IN THE NIGHT made third place. There was an exciting moment when Mrs Hudson (Eilzabeth Yuill, of course) knocked out Inspector Lestrade with a rolling pin, followed by an even more exciting one when the Hound of the Baskervilles (PV’s finest role) bounded in and slobbered all over Sherlock Philmar until dispatched with Watson’s service revolver and 172 points.

In second place we had Giles Armstrong back in form with OFF WITH HER HEAD, a bizarre application to the Chancery Court for the Duchy of Clarence, by the very eloquent Hannah Mercer, for the sealing of an ancient writ of damnosa aeternam that would allow her to be beheaded with a samurai sword. You may wonder, as did our golden oldies Colin Pinney and Richards Evans, how such things could be: but if you had been in the audience you would have understood the necessities of the plot and approved the award of 173 points.

Way out in front, with 190 points, was CROWN VERSUS CROWN by Carrie Eden. This proved to be a re-run of a sub plot of Midsummer Night’s Dream, a custody dispute over the child of, as it turned out, the two advocates Karl Niklas and Sakuntala Ramanee. The latter had the compelling lines “No advocate am I, but like sweet Portia, Am no better than I oughter”! Judge Colin Pinney rounded off the proceedings by bidding us “And so all to your bowers fly; Go forth, my lieges, multiply”. And so we did.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Up In Court

Monday 27th June brings us the final date of the summer programme, though of course there's still two meetings of the Conway-Mayhew Collaboration to come, as well as numerous appearances in Camden and elsewhere during August. Being the final night, it's also Competition Time, and this term's theme, Up in Court, seems to have proved more taxing than usual. Perhaps that's because the requirement that each playlet has to be set in a courtroom has restricted the imagination of our trusty writers. There's less wiggle room than before, when we allowed the writers to use the title simply as a basis for whatever he or she fancies. At any rate, there are fewer entries than usual, but that has its virtues. With only six entries, maybe there won't be so much head-scratching among the voters as we all try and remember what on earth that second play was all about, and did we really enjoy it.

So, come along on Monday at 7.45 and find out if quality really is better than quantity.

Collaboration Delayed

Owing to a variety of circumstances, the first meeting of the long-heralded Collaborative Project by Roger and Mary has had to be postponed. Instead of taking place this Friday, 24th June, it will meet on Monday July 11th, with a follow-up on the following Monday, 18th. Both will start at the slightlier earlier for us time of 6.30 p.m. And as Roger so helpfully points out in the comments, they are at our old home of the Green Man pub in Great Portland Street, not at the Phoenix.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Time Traveller's Mother & Balls

Another Monday and another double bill. Starting the evening is another one act play by the ever prolific, and busy, Eddie Coleman. When he isn't writing plays he's helping direct other people's, which is why we haven't seen him in the Phoenix of late. However, you can't keep a good man down, and that's why he's back on the 20th with the Time Traveller's Mother. I read it back in November, and can't remember a thing about - except that I really liked it. That's commendation enough, no?

Then, for the main event, we have the first episode of a sitcom by new writer Chris Miller. It was originally entitled Sexism in the City, which tells you quite a lot. Lads on the pull, in other words. But it's now been retitled and rewritten to within an inch of its life. Will it work? Can it make that fabled 8.30 BBC1 slot on a Friday evening now that My Family is being consigned to the ash-heap of history ( ITV 3, UKGOLD, Dave, and a DVD remainder store near you )?

Come along on Monday and find out.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Collaborative Project

Over the last few weeks Mary Conway and Roger Mayhew have been getting feedback on their idea of a collaborative project which would enable writers and actors from the group to work together on a devised play or plays over a period of nine months to a year. The aims of the project would be:

1. To extend opportunities for working together and social interaction beyond Monday nights
2. To entice our playwrights into a collaborative process which mirrors real life play production
3. To work creatively with our actors to develop and produce a play
4. To enable our playwrights to enhance their skills and experience through facilitated sessions in theme, characterisation and structure
5. To enable our actors to enhance their skills and experience through research, improvisation and play development
6. To develop a piece of theatre that showcases a range of skills from Player Playwrights and demonstrates to the wider world our commitment to new writing

Any productions arising from this process would be credited to Player Playwrights but would identify all those who had contributed.

The project will fall into eight stages of development:

Stage One
A facilitated session or sessions with interested playwrights to develop a theme or themes for a showcase play or plays.
Expected outcome: Synopsis or series of ideas for a play or plays; establishment of sub groups for Stage 2
Timing: One or more sessions over an agreed period, beginning summer 2011.

Stage Two
Sub groups meeting to develop the structure of a play or plays with accompanying ideas, potential script samples and character descriptions.
Timing: September-October 2011

Stage Three
Sub group meetings to prepare briefings based on the agreed theme(s) and characters for use in development sessions with actors.
Timing: October 2011

Stage Four
A series of research and improvisation sessions with actors to build the characters and dramatic conflict of the play.
Timing: Agreed number of sessions October 2011-January 2012

Stage Five
Production of a written draft script/scripts based on the actors’ improvisation .
Timing: End February 2012

Stage Six
Intensive script work with the team of playwrights to arrive at the final script or scripts.
Timing: March 2012

Stage Seven
Reading(s) at Player Playwrights.
Timing: May 2012

Stage Eight
Review of progress with PP Committee to identify future potential for the play or plays and to consider possible production.
Timing: June 2012

This project would extend and diversify the work of Player Playwrights and could offer some interesting development sessions for actors and playwrights alike. At any stage of the process, we would review progress and adapt as necessary.

And it's happening. Taking the bull by the horns, the first meeting will be on

Friday 24th June
Phoenix Artists’ Club
1 Phoenix Street, Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DT


Please bring a pen and notepad.

If you would like to talk to either Roger or Mary, you can contact them on:

rogermayhewplays at yahoo dot co dot uk
mary dot conway3 at btopenworld dot com

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Change of Programme

Unfortunately, owing to a scheduling clash, the summer programme has had to be changed, with the whole of the July being cancelled. Its two scheduled readings will now take place in the autumn. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Hong Kong ( Via Earls Court )

June 13th brings us a double bill. First up are a few poem written by debutant Jethro Dykes. Then, there's a one act play by Kevin Connor with the curiously titled whimsical drama Hong Kong ( Via Earls Court ). This is Kevin's second appearance wtih P-P. Last October he amused us with the eccentric, and ribald The Patient. Will It live up to the promise we have come to expect from those difficult second plays? Will it even surpass all expectations? Come along on Monday and find out.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Funny As Hell

After the week off we are back with a vengeance in the shape of Funny As Hell, the screen version of Goodbye: The Afterlife of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, which received its world premiere some, three, four, five (?) years ago at P-P and has since toured the world and elsewhere. Written by Johnny Hansler and Clive Greenwood, and starring the very same, it's a wild and zany comedy set in hell, with Mr. Cook having just died, and finding himself in company of his former sparring partner. Think Jean-Paul Sartre meets Beyond the Fringe.

I saw it in its first P-P incarnation, then went along to see it performed at Leicester Square Theatre, so it'll be intriguing to see how it's changed. It's certainly a snappier title. Is it a snappier script? Come along on Monday 6th June, and find out.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Turbo Tina - the website

Just because he's getting married on Saturday doesn't mean it's all confetti and canapes for Tim Gambrell. Far from it, in collaboration with partner ( a different one from the one he's marrying ) Andrew Hyde he's been busy setting up a website dedicated to what some of us regard as his finest moment - the sci-fi radio sitcom Turbo Tina. There's a brand new episode, and a pdf of the whole series pitch. Why have they set it up? Because they want feedback before they hit the industry with it. So, go listen, have a chortle, then gather your thoughts into a coherent whole, and give them your advice.

Not a bad way of spending a wet bank holiday.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Face It

So there's no show on Monday 30th May as it's yet another bank holiday, but just because there isn't a reading, it doesn't mean that the good people at P-P aren't working. Sam South finally gets to see the film she wrote fifteen years ago, Tim Gambrell celebrates his forthcoming nuptuals with another sketch performance for Rhubba, and Clive Greenwood gets to act in J.B. Priestley's The Linden Tree.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

"Writing to the Moment" & N10

On Monday 23 May we have a double bill. The first is a talk, and it promises to be one of our best yet. It's going to be given by Steve Waters, and is entitled “Writing to the Moment”. As well as lecturing students on the degree course at Birmingham University, Steve actually writes real, produced plays which have been performed at a variety of theatres including the Crucible in Sheffield, Hampstead, the Donmar Warehouse, and West Yorkshire Playhouse. His latest, Little Platoons, opened at the Bush last year, and got this glowing encomium by none other than Francis Beckett, who wrote last week's play, American Go Home. Small world, eh?
And that's just the start of the evening. After that we get the long-awaited P-P debut by our very own Publicity Secretary Ninaz Khodaiji. It's called N10, and is a sitcom set among the dubious weirdoes who live in that part of North London.

7.45 at the Phoenix.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

American Go Home

It's been a while since Francis Beckett graced us with his presence. But now he's back with another one act play currently called American Go Home. I don't know what it's about, but given Francis' track record, I'm thinking political satire. One thing I do know is that he isn't too crazy about the title. So come along on Monday 16th May and hit him with your best shot.
7.45 at the Phoenix Arts Club.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Colouring Book

It seems like only yesterday ( actually, it was six weeks ) since Sandy Nicholson brought us Word of Mouth. Well now he's back with The Colouring Book. As his website so helpfully explains:

It's a one act play in which:

"Four women are involved in a psychological experiment, in which they are each told the same story, and then given half an hour to talk to one another before they must repeat it back to the experimenter, wherein it will be examined for the differences between their versions".

You can even read a sample. But I'm not going to as I want to come to it fresh-faced. See you on Monday 9th May at 7.45.

Summer Programme

Is up in the usual spot. The usual mixed bag of goodies to keep us warm during the summer.

Friday, 29 April 2011

A Guy at Work Story

Some of you may be taking the day off to watch something on the telly. But for others, the work continues, and for Eddie Coleman, it's just another day at the office as he puts on yet another play, hot on the heals of his P-P reading for Barbara Finds Happiness. It's called A Guy at Work Story, and is on at the Red Lion Theatre in Islington, for three performances only, once on Friday May 6th and twice on Saturday May 7th. Be there!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Wedding Fever

With Easter so late this year, it's been one of the longest terms on record, but finally, on Monday April 18th we end with our traditional competition, and being all topical and up to date our theme is Wedding Fever, as the nation gears up to celebrate a moment that will unite the races and classes as we all share in their happy day.
Yes, Ed Miliband is doing the decent thing at last. Ten scripts, but there can only be one winner. Who will it be? Come along to the Phoenix at 7.45 to find out.
In the mean time, here's footage from an earlier time. Happy days indeed.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Love and Other Games

Members who printed out the programme when it was first published may have been expecting a play by Francis Beckett. Hold your horses. The great man has been busy with one thing and another so we're keeping it for next term. However, in its place comes a portmanteau of comedy plays entitled Love And Other Games by P-P legend Lisa Fulthorpe. I say legend not only because I have never met her, but because she is also a member of longer standing than I, and she's written an episode of Doctors and contributed sketches to Smack the Pony which I used to like, back in the day.

Let Lisa explain:

"Relationships promise much, but rarely deliver. You might crave a moment of bliss or a lifetime’s worth, but how often does it work out like that? They often feel like a game: with two (or more) players and rules that constantly change.
I’ve written these plays, all comedies, some light, some darker, with the idea that relationships are secret deals between two people right from the start, with neither side really knowing what the other one wants.
They explore what happens if that deal gets broken and how characters behave next: Back-down? Compromise? Forgive? Lie? Betray? Avenge. . .?
Central to this is that all the characters have something at stake: their future happiness, their security, freedom, sanity; their finances, their families, their senses of self, their need not be alone in the world. Some have a lot more at stake than others.
The characters inhabit familiar worlds (the one night stand, the dirty weekend, the sub-urban party, chance encounters, domestic bliss. . .) and they are at different stages in life (from young to old). They are, for the most part, heterosexual, but they don’t have to be".

Is your appetite well and truly whetted? Then come along on Monday 11th April.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Man by the Lake & A Bed Made for Love

Spring in the air, there's magic everywhere, when you're young and in love. And there's plenty of magic and love at Player-Playwrights on April 4th, with a double bill by Maryse Addison. Maryse may be yet another writer making her debut with us, but by industry standards she's a grizzled veteran. A TV director and producer from way back, who has written about such varied subjects as polar bears and Nazis, she's now gracing us with a double bill of radio plays. Man by the Lake is a very atmospheric tale of spooky goings-on when a woman starts to have visions of a man... by a lake.

And a Bed Made for Love is a lighter, romanticish comedy about a couple on honeymoon. I'm afraid to warn you that there's even a dash of sex involved. But we like that, especially on radio. They clock in at thirty minutes and twenty minutes respectively, so there's plenty of time for the readings, the discussion, and then a cup of cocoa at home where we can all calm down at home watching Paxman on Newsnight.

Competition Closed

Just for the record, in case you are scribbling away, we already have ten entries for the Wedding Fever competition. So, keep it for next time. Or, if you've already finished it but not sent it in and don't think it can be rewritten for our inevitable Olympic Fever contest for the next summer, we may have it done out of competition early next term, if I'm feeling generous. But this has proved to be a popular theme - everybody loves a wedding, don't they?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Some of the more educated among you may have heard of Macbeth, often referred to by theatrical folk as The Scottish Play. Well now we have what will no doubt go down in history as The African Play, as our very own Eamon McDonnell has taken Shakespeare's tragedy, cut out the boring bits, and moved the action to the Ancient African civilization that was the Benin Empire - "giving this famous tale an original and engaging twist". ( well that's what he thinks ) "This production delivers, both visually and culturally, a very exciting performance, fusing the original violent tale with a new setting and context - bringing the vibrancy of Africa to the stage".

It's playing at the Greenwich Playhouse and runs for almost four weeks. First night is Tuesday April 7th, and continues till May 1st.

Be there.

After After the Accident

For that matter we haven't seen much of Julian Armitstead lately, what with him writing international award-winning plays that get onto Radio four and all. Indeed, that isn't all. After the Accident is touring this spring, c/o REM Projects, and has even got some dosh from the Arts Council England. It's having a preview at the Oxford North Wall Friday and Saturday April 1-2, and thereafter at the Bristol Tobacco Factory for two weeks. London audiences will be able to catch up with it at the Soho Theatre Upstairs from June 6th-19th. And if you don't get to see it, you can always order a copy from Methuen.

The Sea Lovers

Gambo's back! We may not have seen too much of the great man lately, but to compensate we can always listen to him. Here he is, acting in another Rhubba Radio sketch. Left click to listen or right click to download.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Doorway & Word of Mouth

Monday March 28 brings us a double bill of debuts. First up is a short ten minute play by previous P-P Actress of the Year Nicola Hollinshead, entitled Doorway. It's a two-hander, and will also feature a pair of newbie thespians, Eileen Pollock and Max Warrick. After a brief and hopefully lively discussion, we'll then turn to the evening's main entertainment, Sandy Nicholson's Word of Mouth.

What's it about? Well, according to Sandy's rather impressive website, it's "A one hour drama following the work and personal lives of a group of people who work to put on a nightly radio comedy hour, exploring their relationships with each other, and with their profession. We follow the presenters, writers, producers and the tech team, as they try to work under pressure, keep their personal lives together, and deal with what comes from being only fractionally famous".

I haven't read it myself, but it came with a very favourable mentor's report, from someone who is often hard to please. So that's a commendation!

7.45, at the Phoenix Arts Club.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


One of our most prolific writers, Roger Mayhew, makes a welcome return with Memorabilia, a stage play about the aftermath of a death in the family. Roger tackled the same issue in The Mourning After a few years ago. Let's see how different this variation on a theme is. The play takes place over three time periods 1981, 1995 and 2011, and the cast contains Clive Greenwood, Lynne O’Sullivan, and both making their P-P debuts, Eleanor Lamb, and a man who joins that select few who have twice played Bond villains, David de Keyser. Let's hope he gets the opportunity to sit down and stroke a nice and cuddly white cat on his lap, while plotting world domination.

Come along on Monday 21st March at 7.45 to find out.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Houseparty of the Dead 6

People often come up to me and ask me: who exactly was that gorgeous, sexy creature who starred in that play of yours from last year, Siren? I tell them, Glenn Speers. They then say, no the other one, to which I respond: Paula Gilbert. Now for those who haven't seen her performing lately, here she is, acting her socks and much else off as a lesbian pursued by hungry zombies, in the short horror movie Houseparty of the Dead 6. Don't worry, you don't have to watch all the predecessors in this illustrious series, they're self-contained. She filmed this the week Siren ended. If you watch it closely, you can even see some of the same costumes.

Houseparty of the Dead 6 from eds209 on Vimeo.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


There are many works of art that have a letter as the title. For starters, there's the Booker-Prize winning novel G, by John Berger. In the sordid world of rock and roll the letter L has been used for albums by both the art school rockers Godley and Creme and the king of glissando Steve Hillage. ( If you like that sort of thing you should buy them, they're both terrific ). And in the field of motion pictures there is M by Fritz Lang, Z by Costa Gavras, and O, the Othello reworking starring Martin Sheen and Julia Stiles.

Will Giles Armstrong's D join this illustrious elite of artistic excellence? I don't see why not. I haven't read it, and have absolutely no idea what it's about. All I do know is it's a fifty minute stage piece, and that Giles has got to be just about our keenest critic. Have we ever had a piece without Giles raising his hand to comment afterwards? Now's the time for all our embittered writers with long memories to get their revenge.

What higher recommendation do you need?

Monday 14th of March, 7.45 at the Phoenix.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sheep and Goats

Monday March 7th brings us a new play by a new writer, Michael O'Brien. Michael is currently working in Spain, but is making a special trip to oversee this reading. Because of the travel arrangements it's been trickier than usual getting this piece together, but I like to think it's worth it. It's a fifty minute satire on religious cults, has a big cast, and presents Silas Hawkins with a challenging lead role as Anton the man in search for meaning.

Come along at 7.45 and enjoy. Warning, it does contain copious amounts of swearing, but I like to think it's essential rather than gratuitous.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Michelle Flower and Dreadfeathers Farm

Monday 28th February brings us one of the highlights of the year. First is Michelle Flower, one of the brains behind the Camden Fringe, who is coming to give us a talk in which all your questions about this most magnificent edifice get answered. Come along, be inspired, and put your own play on this August. It's that simple!

Then, comes a tv sitcom pilot co-written by Peter Vincent and Dana Morgan entitled Dreadfeathers Farm. If you know who Peter is then he needs no introduction. If you don't, then you should. You'll almost certainly have laughed at something he's written, unless you're very young, in which case you should be in bed, or you've never owned a tv, in which case you have come to the wrong place. Check this lot out. And Dana? She's relatively new to this writing game. But if she's good enough for Peter, she's good enough for the rest of us.

Come along on Monday. First for wisdom, then for laughter.

The Burning Times

I mentioned it a fortnight ago, but a debut radio play by one of our members is always worth another plug. The writer is Helena Thompson, and her play The Burning Times is on Radio 4 on Friday at 2.15. Give it a listen.