2024 Festival Results

The Full Length Plays awards:

The F.M. Cubbon Trophy – Best Play: The Father performed by White Cobra

The Dick Craine Cup – 1st Runner Up: Lilies of the Land performed by White Cobra

The Vanda Lambert Award – Best Female Performance: Victoria Miles as Margie in Lilies on the Land

Victoria Miles as Margie in Lilies on the Land
Kate Bilingham as Anne in The Father
Kim Arkle as Laura in The Father

The S. E. Benn Award – Best Male Performance: Ian Spiby as Andre in The Father

Ian Spiby as Andre in The Father
Richard Jordan as Pierre in The Father
Joseph Maclean as O’Brien in 1984

The Raven Players Award – Best Producer/Director: Martin Borley-Cox for The Father

The Jackie Banner Award for Comedy: Lilies on the Land performed by White Cobra

The Michael J. Lees Award for Drama: The Father performed by White Cobra

Youth Awards:

Cyril Spencer Trophy – Best Play – Youth (Under 20) Category:
Viral performed by Platform Theatre School

John Bowring Trophy – Best Director in Youth Festival: Leandra Lawler for Viral

Olga Gray Award – Best Youth Actress: Eve Puzzar for Viral
Mia Quine for Two
Eve PuzzarSeren KirkpatrickScarlet Brophy for Viral

One Act Adult Plays Awards:

Northern Arts Rose Bowl –  Best Festival Play:
Victoria Station performed by Parodos Theatre Company

Service Players Trophy – Best Play Runner Up:
Dumb Waiter performed by Service Players

Caine Family Trophy – Best Director: Sharon Walker for Dumb Waiter

Jean C Webb Award – Best Actress: Jude Dicken for Two
Danny Berry for Escaped Alone
Jude Dicken for Two

Mark Clift Trophy – Best Actor: Geoff Pugh for Victoria Station
Geoff Pugh and Lorcan O’Mahony for Victoria Station
Jack Verity
 for Two
Tom Cain and Toby Smith for Babysitting Calvin

Nadine Talbot Award – Best Dramatic Moment:
Victoria Station – “I have a POB”
Cat phobia speech in Escaped Alone
Cracking the bottle in Two
The instructions during the Dumb Waiter

Daphne Clark Memorial Trophy – Best Comedic Moment in Festival:
The can of beer moment from Babysitting Calvin
Fred &Alice and Mrs Eiger from Two
Bob and the mirror from Babysitting Calvin
The suit jacket from Babysitting Calvin
The can of beer moment from Babysitting Calvin

Festival Awards:

Sure Mobile Award – Best use of Sound & Lighting in Festival: 1984
The Father

The David Sugden Memorial Trophy for Set Conception, Design and Construction: Dumb Waiter
The Father
Lilies on the Land
Dumb Waiter

The J & B Green Award for Costume and Makeup: Lilies on the Land
Lilies on the Land
Babysitting Calvin
Dumb Waiter

The Olga Gray Adjudicator’s Award – Outstanding Contribution:
The slapstick double act Bob and Calvin – Babysitting Calvin

Reviews of the sixth and final night of the festival

Last night we enjoyed the final two one act plays:

Babysitting Calvin by John H. Newmeir performed by Service Players

After several plays with dystopian aoutlook, this was a real comedic relief.
Slapstick all the way. Lots of laughs and action.
Poor Mum having to suffer her questioning mother and take care of Calvin!
She deserved a night on the tiles.
Womanising Bob was a real character to despise,
first coming on to Donna then trying it on with Laura.
But at least Calvin ran rings round him.
The ‘lovely’, manipulative baby Calvin got his comeuppance in the end
by uttering his first words, but I think Bob got off lightly with only a soiled suit.
Thank you Service Players for many laughs.

The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter performed by Service Players

Our final play continuing the theme of ‘it doesn’t have meaning’.
With good contrasts between the two assassins this dark comedy played along
with twists and turns which made no sense, except what we, the audience, imagined.
Were they really top flight assassins or just incompetent bunglers?
How could anyone read the IOM Courier Classified ads for so long?
Does anyone tie their shoe laces so meticulously?
For professionals, they appeared not to understand how to dress with their
shoulder holsters and would they ever have been able to deploy their guns from
said holsters in the heat of the moment?
We will never know.
A great end to the Festival, well done Service Players.

Reviews of the fifth night of the festival

Last night we enjoyed the third of our Full Length Plays, 1984 by George Orwell performed by Wellington Theatre Company

O’Brien seemed to get great pleasure inflicting punishment on Winston,
I hope Winston got his revenge after in the Green Room with a few pints!
Another dystopian play in our week of theatre.
Orwell published the novel 35 years before 1984 and here we are 40 years after.
It makes you shiver looking at todays world of dictators and alternative truth.
Where will we be in another 35 or 40 years?
A thrilling interpretation of 1984 which kept us engaged
despite everyone knowing the plot.
Thank you Wellington for a great piece of Theatre.

– Ron Beswick

First play (One Act, Adult, Comedy/Drama, Isle of Man):

Service Players present
Babysitting Calvin by John H. Newmeir

Calvin, a ten-month old baby (acted by an adult),
can still remember his previous life when he was happily married to Laura,
despite the constant attentions of his womanising friend, Bob.
Calvin will lose his blissful memories when he reaches his
first birthday – or speaks – so he determines nothing will make him talk!

Followed by (One Act, Adult, Comedy of Menace, Isle of Man):

Service Players present
The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter

The Dumb Waiter revolves around two would-be assassins waiting to learn
what their next assignment will be.
These men, Ben and Gus, are polar opposites:
Ben takes orders as they come without question,
while Gus nervously awaits new assignments by peppering Ben with myriad questions.
The final showdown occurs not between the two assassins and their victim,
but between Ben and Gus themselves.

Reviews of the fourth night of the festival

Last night we enjoyed another two one act plays:

Two by Jim Cartwright performed by Rushen Players

We were introduced to the comic bickering between man & wife, Landlord & Landlady of our northern pub. Along the way came interesting pub characters and a hint of ‘something afoot’.
We have all met theses people in pubs, the lonely old man, the other woman, and the ‘strange couples’. Their backstories, partially revealed and individually expanded by each and every audience member.

Just as in The Father on Monday, the skeleton in the cupboard, the death of a child, is revealed and the world comes crashing down. Is this the end of the relationship? Perhaps, in the final scene we see a glimmer of hope of reconciliation.
Entertaining, comedy and tragedy, It’s why we go to live theatre. Thank you Rushen Players.

Viral by Maria McConville performed by Platform Theatre School

We witnessed a young ‘cast of thousands’ expertly introduce us to the dynamic and scary world of young people’s social media.

As Chris said in an aside, “I’ve never been so gad to be old”. Was this a foretaste of Caryl Churchill’s dystopian world coming to reality? There were some despicable characters portrayed by these lovely youngsters along with others with compassion and high morals who could see the damage being caused. I think there is hope for us in the future with young people like this!

The Greek chorus was wonderfully effective
and frightening at the same time.  Thank you Platform Theatre School for a dramatic piece of theatre.

– Ron Beswick

Tonight we have Wellington Theatre Company presenting 1984 by George Orwell

Winston Smith is in prison, found guilty of Thoughtcrimes against Big Brother.

As part of his reconstruction, he must re-enact key moments from his past life, with the help of other thought criminals, so that everyone can learn from his mistakes. Including his biggest mistake of all: falling in love with Julia.
Constructed almost entirely from dialogue taken from the original novel this bold and powerful dramatisation restores the blazing heart of Orwell’s work: a doomed love story, with the lovers at its centre.

This is a terrific and terrifying play about what could happen, or is it happening now! Considering it was written 75 years ago it makes events that are happening today stunning and scary.

NB The subject matter of this play could be upsetting

“Stories are alive”

Thanks to the Friends of Manx Drama who organised a lovely Easter moon Festival lunch at The Empress yesterday. Lots of theatre related conversations were had and our Adjudicator Chris Baglin regaled us with some wonderful history around storytelling and some of his favourite tales – “Stories are alive” was the takeaway and they truly were yesterday.

– Vanessa Montgomery Williams


Review of the third night of the festival

Last night we enjoyed the second of our Full Length Plays, The Father by Florian Zeller performed by White Cobra.

Well this one made us think! Close to the bone as they say. Chris made the comment that the subject of Dementia is “A conversation we all need to have with ourselves.”

Following on from Caryl Churchill and Harold Pinter. It makes no sense! Both to the afflicted and their families. Logic goes out of the door! The elements sympathetically portrayed in the play: time shifts, false memories, abuse (real or imagined), forgetfulness, misplacing and hiding of possessions, fear and eventual obliteration of the person we know and love. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, there was humour and compassion.

A brave choice professionally executed by White Cobra. Thank you for a taste of theatre to mirror life!

– Ron Beswick

Tonight we have our next two One Act plays:

Rushen Players present Two by Jim Cartwright
A real time, one scene snapshot of life in a local pub one weekend evening. The action revolves around the landlord and landlady, who run the pub,and different pairs of people who are customers. It moves back and forth, spotlighting the different relationships,
coming back to the landlord and landlady each time. Most of the characters are portrayed by the two actors on stage.


Platform Theatre School present Viral by Maria McConville
In this ensemble-driven drama featuring an all-female cast, five high school girls recount a cruel locker room bullying incident that is initially cloaked in secrecy, but ultimately goes viral online. What happens next forces the students to question their respective roles in the events that unfolded in that fateful day.

Review of the second night of the festival

Last night we enjoyed the first of our Full Length Plays, Lilies on the Land by Lion’s Part performed by White Cobra.

We went from English tea in the garden on Saturday to full blown life on the farm.
I hope they didn’t use Victoria Station’s cab company to get to Sussex or maybe it was the Driver who dumped their cases in the mud? This was a beautiful series of scenes in the lives of the Land Army Girls presenting the fun, fear and hopes of these famous but often forgotten young girls.

We laughed at the detailed description of the hardships of no flush toilets, the sh*** of the farmyards and the creation of new life on the farm. We moved to the music in the Saturday Night dances, felt sadness for the fleeting relationships with the nearby aircrew. Lovely singing and those boxes moved deftly like a 3D game of Tetris.

Thank you White Cobra for an entertaining and
thought provoking evening.

– Ron Beswick

Tonight White Cobra presents The Father by Florian Zeller.

Seen through the eyes of a man with dementia,
The Father exposes the emotional toll it has on him and his family. Moving and at times heart-breaking, Andre’s story will be recognised by all too many families. Blistering honest but ultimately uplifting, it’s a story of our times.
Recently an Oscar and BAFTA winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman,
this production includes the founders and stalwarts of White Cobra and original music by Martin Heath.

NB. The subject matter of this play could be upsetting

Reviews of the first night of the festival

Last night we enjoyed two one act plays.

Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill performed by Rushen Players.

Terrible rage, terrible rage, terrible rage, terrible rage! These four ladies had a few problems didn’t they!

We opened to a pleasant garden scene with 4 chairs and three ladies entering, plus a tea service on the table. Pleasant ladies’ chat we thought. Mrs. Jeffries enters stage left, obviously not invited but sort of welcomed. The ‘chat’ evolved into some disturbing stuff and these 3 ladies certainly had problems. Psychological issues, was it murder or self defence and a cat psychosis? Would you want these guys as neighbours? Then there was Mrs. Jeffries with her apocalyptic view of a catastrophic world. Where will it end? Well certainly without any drop of tea!

Typical Caryl Churchill, Chris Baglin explained, you’re not supposed to ‘understand’ the script,
make of it what you will.

A great piece of theatre to open our Festival, thank you Rushen Players.

Victoria Station by Harold Pinter performed by Parodos Theatre Company.

How about Mr. Pinter’s friendly, customer service focussed cab company? What a spooky pair they were. I felt sorry for the poor guy left at Victoria Station. Did he ever get to see his grandmother? He should have booked an Uber.

Great characterisation of the Controller and Driver. You could feel the Controller’s frustration building and building. The spaced out attitude of the Driver was comic in the beginning, but what really happens to the POB female asleep on the back seat? Is it love or something sinister, we will never know. And that’s exactly what Mr. Pinter planned. It’s all in YOUR mind.

A gripping presentation and food for thought,
well done Parodos Theatre.

– Ron Beswick

See you all tonight for White Cobra’s Lilies on the Land by Lion’s Part.

Lilies of the Land is an extraordinary piece of theatre telling the story of Britain’s Women’s Land Army of World War Two. Based on hundreds of actual letters from original Land Girls, the play focuses on four very different women who all come together during Britain’s darkest hour determined to ‘do their bit’ for King and Country.

Lloyds Bank are backing young entrants in Drama competition

Manx Amateur Drama Federation (MADF) are delighted to announce Lloyds Bank as the sponsors for our Young Actor of Mann. This competition has been running for over twenty five years and is now a biennial event open to island young people between the ages of 13  to 19. See the Young Actor of Mann page for more details with entries closing on January 13. The competition will take place at Ballakermeen High School’s Studio Theatre on Saturday 30 March. The adjudicator will be Chris Baglin an experienced member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators (GoDA).

Matt Beresford Island Director (IOM) Head of Operations & Community Bank said he was delighted Lloyds Bank were sponsoring the Manx Amateur Drama Federation Young Actor of Mann award in 2024. The award is a real celebration of the islands emerging talent and we’re proud to play our part in supporting this brilliant initiative.

Chair of MADF Sharon Walker said this most prestigious event for young people was a marvellous opportunity to compete and possibly win the prize, which is a week at a Drama school in the UK. The partnership with Lloyds Bank is very exciting and helps our commitment to nurturing young talent on the island. Many of the past winners and participants of this competition have gone on to successful professional careers and have returned to become leading actors in our own theatre world on the island.

  • Michael Lees

Another opening another show or shows?

Well the Manx Amateur Drama Federation (MADF) has started preparations for their festivals in 2024 and 2025!

The invitations to teams from the Island, British Isles and Ireland have gone out. Our first competition will be the The Young Actor of Mann (now biennial). This will be Saturday 30th March at Ballakermeen Studio, further information can be found on the event page. Entrants must be Isle of Man residents. Closing date for entries Saturday 13th Jan 2024.

The Easter Festival (which now incorporates the One Act and Full Length Play Festivals) has teams coming from the Island and British Isles. It commences on Saturday 30th March, running for 7 days from 7.30pm each evening at the Gaiety Theatre and runs until Friday 5th April. The deadline for entries is 1st December 2023. The Empress Hotel will be MADF Headquarters and green room each evening.

We’re pleased to announce the adjudicator for all events will be Chris Baglin GoDA (Guild of Drama Adjudicators). Chris is well known to audiences on the island having previously adjudicated the One Act Play Festival.

Social events will include a Coffee morning on Friday 1st March at Peel Centenary Centre, more details from the Friends of MADF later. The traditional Easter Monday lunch will be Monday 1st April at the Empress Hotel.

We are now eagerly awaiting the entries for all our festivals and will announce the entrants in January 2024.

Some advance news for our 2025 Easter festival which will be our 75th Anniversary is the ever popular Robert Meadows GoDA has accepted our invitation and the Gaiety Theatre has been booked from Saturday 19th April  through to Friday 25th.  We are in the process of planning our special anniversary year and more details  will be released in the New Year.

We are very grateful to the IOM Arts Council for their continued support and would welcome other sponsors for any of our events. If you know of any who might be interested please let me know at michaellees@manx.net.

Michael J Lees MADF President and PR Officer