Category Archives: One Act

The Drama of Mann- A Word from our One Act Play Festival Adjudicator

The Drama of Mann

I cannot express how delighted I was to be approached to come to the island to adjudicate the One Act Festival and Young Actor of Mann. It was a new one to me, and I had not managed a visit to the island since sailing into Doolish harbour at midnight aboard our Sea Cadet Training Ship. We sailed out at about two the following afternoon, so my whole previous experience of the island was fourteen hours in Douglas, at least eight of which were spent asleep.

This time however more than made up for it. The whole of the community of the island has been so welcoming that one could easily be mistaken for an old friend returning to the island rather than a stranger. The welcome aside, the scenery and atmosphere of the island is magical, as many have remarked before, going back thousands of years. And the food! I am only too glad that the airlines don’t charge for that particular type of excess baggage one carries back around one’s waist!

As for the festivals themselves, what a treat to be able to observe and adjudicate them. The One Act Festival brought laughter and tears, often in the same production. I saw performers who ranged from fifteen to eighty-five and all stops in-between, and each and every one of them had something unique and valuable to contribute. The styles ranged from the stylised to naturalistic and touched on themes from an unexpected change late in life to Faustian pacts with the cult of celebrity and even a Roald Dahl-esque twist in the tail.

Then there was the Young Actor of Mann. All anyone will tell you about this competition is that it is a nigh on impossible job to judge as all the young actors are so talented, and they certainly wouldn’t like to do it.  As adjudicators we hear this often, but never before have I seen it so justified as here.  It is inspiring to see these young actors and actresses willing to get up and present themselves for their talent to be judged. In Wales we have the Eisteddfod culture, we encourage all our young people to get up and compete in these competitions of singing, recitation etc. It makes the experience normal. But I know only too well it doesn’t make it any easier. So to see these youngsters willing to step outside their comfort zone and do it without that cultural norm, well… I feel the dramatic future of the island will be in safe hands. And I can confirm that it is a nigh on impossible job as all the young actors are so talented and cannot wait to do it again!

Gura mie eu

Chris Baglin


Day One (Geordie accent) of the 2018 One Act Play Festival. And it opened well.

First up was Hog the Limelight’s production of Jilted Lovers Helpline by John Grim.  I’d like to congratulate Mary and Jasmine (Christine Edge and Tracey Jones) for putting me off helplines for life.  Though I did learn some rather original ways to deal with an errant spouse.  I was also amazed that the ladies were so unflappable, despite the emotional (and sometimes physical) carnage going on at the other end of the phone. If you can calmly eat a hobnob and listen to Grandma smacking her lipstick (but not for grandad), then you’re a stronger person than I’ll ever be.  The play went at a cracking pace and had some wonderfully dry lines.  The setting was the perfect office, swivel chairs, lots of laughter and Captain Hook using his prosthesis as a dough hook – an image that would never normally cross my mind.  It’s definitely part of the NHS Family care & Planning service, that the right hon Jeremy Hunt must never touch.

Heart in the Ground by Douglas Hill was the second play this evening entered by Rushen Players.  Sensitive lighting, effective costumes and evocative Irish music opened this piece, which was performed by Mollie Workman and Michael Williams.   It’s the story of Karen and Lee who are poor farmers from Derry. Somewhere in their very recent past, they lost their three-week-old Catherine to cot death.  Their lives are shredded by the loss, but also by the law that says their daughter must be buried on church land amongst stone and strangers, and not on their farm forever in their care.  The shadow of Karen’s brother looms but despite the vicious arguments and the subsequent revelations, Karen learns her strengths and Lee recognises the need to be kind.  The final scene with the tiny coffin was a tribute to the cast and technical team.  Their commitment to the subject and the understanding of the piece made it a pleasure, albeit a difficult, one to watch.

In contrast we finished the evening with CCTV by Derek Webb performed by the Service Players.  Alex, Jane and Richie (Freddie Hall, Kimberley Quine and Mark Tyley) are the frontline defence at the Oaks Shopping Centre (and I blame austerity).  In the event of a retail related catastrophe, (in this instance he was called Keith) attached to a child’s cap gun, they are what stand in the way of the Swat team that might have saved our lives.  This crack team made up of Sudoku Alex who struggles with a tie and has a spiritual link to Sid James, Richie who’s microphone voice really should clear every sensible person to a safe distance, and Jane who can’t leave her shopping even when she’s breaking up a fight.  It was just any old typical day, until Nigel Thijs as unskilled bank robber Keith, lost his ‘fick’ team of cohorts to one of the best Front of House announcements I’ve ever heard.  Between them they delivered some great one liners, and looked like they were enjoying every minute.  It was a lively and entertaining production, and a great finish to the night.

  • Helen Clarke

Fiona Helleur on the opportunity the One Act Play Festival gives young performers from the Youth Arts Centre

The MADF One Act Play Festival (OAPF) has been one of the highlights of our year for the past twenty plus years and it has always been a really enjoyable experience for our participating members. The Youth Arts Centre (YAC) is a place for young people to come and try everything without fear of failure and we encourage everyone between the ages of 8 – 19 to come along and join us in what we do, be it drama, musical theatre, music, arts, dance or whatever. Our inclusion in the OAPF has always been the bait to tempt young people who may never before have performed before an audience, let alone received critique for that performance. To take a deep breath, gird their loins, learn their lines and put themselves out there unadorned and open before their peers and also before an audience who has no interest in patronage, only in what is delivered.

Young people do not come to the YAC for glory and are not following an arts based syllabus or doing it for exams; they do it because they love the performing arts; they use their own time to find a play that appeals to them, learn to produce and direct, coax the best performances. They are usually a disparate group of young people who come ‘for a laugh’ and to be ‘with their mates’ then suddenly find themselves on stage, in front of that audience – and being judged. It’s quite a wake up call and for most of them, it could be the first time in their lives they get applause and receive positive comments about something they chose to do of their own volition and in their own free time.

Over the years we have presented musicals, Shakespeare, self penned and devised plays as well as published plays about confused identity, the death of a friend, forbidden love and AIDS. We have done comedies about a teenage night out and being a disgruntled superhero, as well as serious issue plays about being the only gay in town or transgender. We don’t shy away from matters that affect young people and in the process we hope to create some excellent theatre that will please the audience as well as the judges. We have had our times when a cast is so nervous they forget everything the second they walk on stage, when we have left costumes and scenery behind in error and the one where not only did the leading lady forget to turn up and had to be replaced by a script reading peer, but also a fellow cast member had to have insulin administered backstage. A night to remember.

Drama is now the only subject where young people have to learn by rote and repeat on demand before a critical audience. The pressure for these young people to succeed is immense but succeed they do thanks to the Festival that can see past the nerves and the braying bravado of a stroppy teenager to see the potential of every cast member who trembles his way through his lines, faltering then hopefully, suddenly and bravely finding their voice, a voice that will never leave them because they did it and did it well.

We have so many wonderful memories of the Oct Act Play Festival, the encouragement of the adult actors, the closeness of the cast when they realise that this is it – they are on stage and everyone is watching. The YAC can boast of its former members who made their debut at the One Act Festival of Plays who are now professional producers, directors, musicians, actors, singers and dancers who are appearing in films, on television and on stages all over the world. The backstage crew of sound and lighting engineers, stage managers, set designers and artists, and even a few barristers who learnt to speak up and out with us. These are people who are all making a living doing something they love and can all look back to this festival on the Isle of Man as the place where it all started.

  • Fiona Helleur, Head of Youth Arts
    Youth Arts Centre

Considerable talent and legendary Manx hospitality!

Manx hospitality is legendary and, let me tell you, this is no fallacy. I’ve visited the Isle of Man three times: once in the mid 80’s when I was appearing in a raucous Mike Harding comedy at The Gaiety Theatre, (which just happened to coincide with TT fortnight!); the second, when the group in which I was a member, Clavering Players an amateur drama group based in Essex, was chosen to take part in the British All Winners Festival in 2014, again at The Gaiety Theatre; and for the third time, last month, at the wonderful Erin Arts Centre in Port Erin.

I was in the fortunate position of accompanying to the festival, Jennifer Scott-Reid, the adjudicator of the Manx Amateur Drama Federation’s One Act Play Festival, and what a festival it was!

We were picked up from Ronaldsway Airport by the wonderful Michael and Karen Goodman, organisers of the festival and our hosts for our time on the island.

Our flight landed in darkness but this made it all the more exciting to discover where we were staying, and what the town was like, when we woke the next morning.

During our time on the island, we were treated to exploratory days out by new-found friends; drama enthusiasts, people with a passion for the arts, and theatre in particular. Thanks to Michael and Barry, Michael and Karen, who took us to the Calf of Man, Peel and many of the beautiful villages and towns; during which, we had fabulous lunches at The Creek Inn, Peel and Two-Six, Derbyhaven (twice!).  What better way to marvel at the beauty of the island; the coast with its stunning coves and strands; the countryside with the wild ruggedness of the winter’s flora, still beautiful.

Before the festival began, Jennifer and I were also treated to a tour of the Erin Arts Centre by none other than John Bethell MBE, the Founder and Director of this wonderful venue. A man of great charm and knowledge of the island and its history; a man who has renovated and developed the centre into the fabulous arts centre it is today.

The quality of the productions, the commitment of the actors both young and old (er), made for a thoroughly entertaining festival of drama. I was so impressed with the quality, not only of the adult groups but, of the youth groups who participated. Yes, these young actors are talented but my goodness, the ability and commitment and passion of those who teach them certainly made an incredible impression on us both.

We were thrilled to have a tour of the Manx National Youth Theatre’s home in Douglas. Fiona Helleur, the inspirational director, the person behind this wonderful art organisation, enthused us too as we saw rehearsal rooms, the theatre, the music studios, props and green rooms. The young actors here will go far and will be an asset to any theatre company in which they find themselves.

Ten plays were performed over the four days. We had new writing from amazing local playwrights such as Lisa Creighton. We had established plays performed with incredible energy and vivid imagination. I was honoured to be invited to the Young Actor of Mann competition on the Sunday where phenomenal young women and men showed the range of their considerable talent in both acting and singing.

It was indeed a wonderful time spent with people who were proud of their island and of the considerable talent which flourishes in this beautiful place.

Thank you, Michael and Karen, thank you to all the committee and friends we made, including Carol, Clare, Lindsay, Helen, Doc, Mike the photographer, Mike the Lighting and Sound, Susie and Ron and all the wonderful people too numerous to mention.

Reviews of the One Act Play Festival Closing Night

The evening opened with Is This Seat Taken by Sean Baker, performed by the Service Players. We’re in the bar of the Hideaway Hotel, Will (Neil Callin) arrives, spots lonely Laura (Helen McKenna) and makes his move. As Hawkeye Andy the barman watches from the bar (Howard Caine – in between reading his newspaper – it’s a quiet night) we discover a few interesting things. Will’s in lingerie and Laura’s in drugs, which might account for the double Bicardi’s she is not sure she likes. Worst of all – they’re married, and it’s 50 shades of roll play night (I think the safe word is ‘sorry’). Despite the rehearsals ‘if I come in again, maybe you could start the conversation?’ it doesn’t work and they row. Laura wants a baby but she’s unhappy with Will. Will went with a prostitute once and thinks missing the toilet bowl is creative(?) They row more! Will storms off and Laura turns to Andy for solace (and wine… then more wine). They barely have time for a worthy discussion on the Master and Margarita (Bulgarkov, not the cocktail), when Carrie (Beth Davies) stilleto’s in, brandishing a thong. Has Will thrown his off in despair? Are Andy & Laura having a fling? Carrie thinks so, but too late, Laura flees leaving Andy to perish. Except Carrie is Andy’s partner & they’re into roll play too. (By now my money’s on Andy & Will ending up in a clinch). Andy leaves Sassy Carrie in charge of the bar, Will gets drunker cos Carrie pours whiskey by the pint (that’s my kind of barmaid), but Andy’s bowtie is still twitching, he’s Den Watts to Carrie’s Ange and he wants a divorce. Fortunately Laura reappears and plays the prostitute especially for Will, which is ok cos she’s awfully good value. I’d like to finish with ‘and they lived happily ever after’ at this point but I’m not sure it’s in very good taste. A comedy of confusion, with four strong performances, spirited dialogue and excellent timing throughout. Great start to an entertaining evening.

Second up was The Book Club of Little Witterington by Joan Greening, performed by Hog The Limelight. The opening English country village music told us we were in a sitting room, not a lounge, and there is probably a body in the library. There’s also a vicar called Denis (unseen), and a husband called Jeremy also unseen (he’s apparently playing bowls, but I think he’ll be in his shed). Terminally nice Jenny (Jenny Kelly) the facilitator (like the Terminator but with cake) has opened her home to the charming ladies of the Little Witterington book club. They’ve been reading Pride and Prejudice, but I’m not sure which version because they didn’t get the irony. Belle (Maire Stevens) is unhappy because she can’t persuade the Denis the vicar that he might wear the frock, but she’s got the trousers. Hippie Ruth (Tracey Jones), sorry, happy Ruth was crocheting something square, because the whole makes up the one, but I think this one was more hole. Sarah (Christine Edge) is a resting actress but the wine glass from where I was sitting, looks like it’s half full of whiskey, so lets hope she’s not driving home (arrested actress..!). Into this warm friendly bosom of welcomeness comes Paula (Sinead Venus) the new money. She’s only got a 10 bed, 6 acre mansion, and when she’s not trying to work out what drugs Ruth is on (I reckon Ritalin), she’s so hungry she’s trying not to chew her own arm off. The cake is mere inches away but Paula just can’t persuade anyone to hand it out. Belle can smell chavness a mile off and snipes away at Paula till she realises there’s something to be gained, i.e. a mansion and 6 acres for the Church Fate, (if only we knew what the donkey got up to last year). This appeared to be a gentle village comedy but it actually had five strong, contrasting roles for women. We enjoyed meeting these clearly defined characters and there was some great comic timing and delivery, the cast were enjoying themselves too. What more could we ask for!

The last piece tonight was Last Train to Nibroc by Arlene Hutton performed by Rushen Players. This was a non competitive entry. May (Saoirse Coyle-Carroll) and Raleigh (Michael Williams) played out the first act of this play and left us all wanting to know how if finishes. It started well, a packed train to heading eastbound across America in the early years of the 2nd world war. Rayleigh didn’t get a seat for most of the way, he’s heading to New York after his discharge from the Army on Medical grounds. He spots an empty seat next to May, and her religious book, but it doesn’t put his off. She plans to be a missionary and is travelling home for Christmas. She also thinks he’s trying to steal her window seat. The window seat she fought for, so she tells him very clearly, he’s not having it. It’s lovely speech, he hasn’t asked her to move, but that doesn’t matter, May is not budging for nobody (or anybody), if anyone is going to drum their head into concussion snoozing up against the rattling window it’s going to be May. Raleigh then tells her that F Scott Fitzgerald and Nathaniel West are on the train. May knows they are both dead, so they can’t be, but turns out they’re in their coffins. Now there’s a chat up line! (Must admit, I’d have gone and looked). They discover they are from neighbouring towns and Raleigh wants to take May to the festival at Nibroc, but that’ too racy for May, she hasn’t been but she’s heard stories. May was played as a sweet, naïve, brave young lady, she’s planned her life as a missionary but the worlds opening up, and there might be more to it than she thought. Rayleigh is similar but with the experience of a young man who’s served in the American forces. He’sgoing to be a writer, and is full of confidence about his future. This young couple spoke for 20 minutes before even introducing themselves, that is the joy of the writing. The atmosphere was perfectly pitched, both actors delivered beautifully understated performances, and they looked and sounded authentic. The simple staging enhanced the whole thing, so roll on part 2! I’d love to see it.

  • Helen Clarke, MADF Treasurer

Reviews of the One Act Play Festival Second Youth Night

We opened tonight with a charming production of The Frog Prince by Malcolm Sircom, performed by the Manx National Youth Theatre Juniors. The age range of the cast was 6-10 years, and some of these very young performers were out on stage acting, waltzing and even singing solo’s. It was a joy to see a group so young join our festival, and hopefully they will continue to enjoy live theatre in years to come. They had a few stand in’s but it didn’t stop them and the teamwork from the cast was great. The script was sharp and witty, and put me right off their school staff room. We met Evil Queen Malicia (boo!) and the magic Mirror (Emma Williams) fairy tale meets the 21st century. Chumley the Butler (Angel-Sue Delaney) played with great energy, is sent on a mission to dispose of the pretty, talented Princess Aurora (Connie Graham). The capable Princess easily outwits the evil attempt on her life with the help of Denis the Dragon (Beth Aldridge), which was lucky because he’d forgotten where he’d hidden himself… we all know that feeling. I heard one of the best ever public service warnings from the narrator (Frances Loach). Quite right, a gentleman should never risk losing his teeth. This led us to Witch Toejam (Aryssa Fairburn) who sparred with her challenging cat Figaro (Libby Delaney), I wouldn’t trust their cooking. The Frog Prince (Daniel Lawrie) charmed the princess with his french accent (what is it about the French?) and everyone was supported by the very cute birds and butterflies, I loved the idea of the worm bombs! (Dylan Wilson, Max Covery, Rebecca Stevens, Ellie Clague, Lily Batty, Annie Teare, Mia Corrills, Faye Coll, Summer Friel, Kirsten Loach, Elitza Wordanovs. Great team effort from everyone, cast and crew, and I’ll do my best not to have any more flashbacks relating to the treacle torture.

Our second piece tonight was RIP Mr Shakespeare by Keith Hill & Bev Clark, performed by Broadway Youth Theatre. This opened with a rainbow of circus colour, the cast on stage effortlessly tripping out unrelated Shakespearean one liners with absolute confidence. They were clowns and clowning, convincingly sad and happy altogether. William Shakespeare is in a care home, and the anonymous servant is not happy to have remained nameless. She may have had some quality lines in many productions, but a name is everything. We are taken on a journey through twenty of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, and it would be impossible to name all the highlights, because this piece was a highlight in its entirety. The Tartan in the Scottish play, the auditioner searching for his inspiration. Will’s mum chatting with Ben Johnson’s mum, she had a moustache? (tho that could be accurate). Brummie Juliet with her clowning Romeo, Grange Hill (?), Pyramus & Thisbe – strictly no tongues – and the Witches pacing their cauldron. The night sky of stars and the moon, Ophelia’s funeral, Henry V and Mrs Macbeth all made an appearance, and eventually the Anonymous servant becomes Denis (her choice, what better name). Will Shakespeare breathes his last, I hope it wasn’t caused by the midsummer nightmare. The stage moved continuously with such pace and colour, and not just from the costumes. Tiny details of dressing and perfectly placed props made it flow from start to finish. Lines were delivered unfalteringly, and the confidence and teamwork made everything a joy to watch. All credit to director Carrie Hunt. I hope they enjoyed themselves, we all did! Congratulations to the company, Christian Cooper, Kirsty More, Jack Smollen, Laeth Quellin, Joseph Long, Matilda Whittle, Faye Pendlebury, Saoirse Coyle-Carroll, Sophie Elliott, Aalin Wilson and Feena Wilson.

  • Helen Clarke, MADF Treasurer

Reviews of the One Act Play Festival First Youth Night

First up tonight was the Manx National Youth Theatre performing The Snow Dragons by Lizzie Nunnery. The curtain opened with the spotlight on the trees (Leah Prow and Mary Teare) shrouded, ethereal and draped in Ivy. The stage was a wonderful mix of scaffolding, Fir trees, buckets, baskets, weapons, bins and bin lids. It looked like a children’s playground in the woods, and that’s exactly what it was. The actors clambered, scrambled and ran around every bit with confidence, energy and enthusiasm. Today we see fearless Raggi (Gracel Delos Santos) and her gang playing out their Snow dragon sagas, fighting with swords, spraying golden autumn leaves as dragon fire, and burning Ignoble to death (Joe Locke – he died well, he told us so). Then everything changes, and the children watch from the trees as their village is raided by the incoming occupation. As children though, they stay in the playground and just carry on, the Royals ran, but they are the last line of resistance surviving on stolen Nazi food. The contrasting characters are wonderful, defined, erratic and wise all at the same time. Viking Odd (Nathan Reynolds) found some unique (but not necessarily successful) hiding places. His big brother Harri (Alex Reynolds) has a very decisive right hook, and Snorri (Jaye Radcliffe) realises she has to leave her stories behind. Christi (Ryan Coates) climbed and mourned his lost grandfather, Marta (Abbie Williams) found her courage growing in unexpected ways and Sig (Scarlett Clague) watches and wonders if she’d ever see her brothers again. This was a wonderful piece of drama with a very moving tableaux ending. It made me think of the Syrian displaced children we read about today. I don’t know who survived the guns; we think (we hope) someone did. I don’t know who played the Nazis at the end, but well done to everyone, another remarkable ensemble production. To quote Raggi ‘we’re not done till we’re done for’ and this team are a long way from that.

Our second play was Dear Mother by Mark James. Where The Snow Dragons was busy and energised, this was the opposite, simple and dignified. Just three actors onstage, Mother (Georgie King) and son Thomas James Broke, who is seen in two stages of his life. Mother is reading letters from her son Thomas. We meet him first as an 11 year old, (Daniel Ansara) who was absolutely engaging, looking directly at the audience but apparently talking to us all individually. Watching young Thomas was his older self (Samuel Turk), now in uniform and persuaded to join up by a white feather in 1915 (he is only 18 years old). Thomas writes with such confidence about his part in the Great War machine, that we can feel his excitement. He’s training and growing and it’s thrilling but the truth of the Great War is never far off. Samuel delivers Thomas’ own vivid, shocking deterioration with great honesty. His Mother sits and listens, occasionally her hands shake, and we see a handkerchief, but where I’d be full of grief and rage, this Mother delivers the most powerful punch with silence and self-composure. The staging was minimal, and the music was emotive ending with the Last Post. As the poppies floated gently down onto the stage, I thought about the postscript from Thomas’s letter ‘Ps, I just want to come home’. A simple, effective, powerful production.

  • Helen Clarke, MADF Treasurer

Reviews of the One Act Play Festival Opening Night

Time for the Truth by Lisa Creighton is a two hander set on a station platform somewhere in the south of England. Two strangers are waiting for a train to Slough, and while Kit played by Lisa Creighton is waiting patiently, Martin (Tom Cain) would like to attract her attention. How else do you strike up conversation with a young woman travelling alone, but by mentioning they have met before… when she tried to kill him. Kit doesn’t remember (and if it were true – for legal reasons neither would I), but Martin is convinced and does his best to be convincing. He tells her about herself, she’s an animal lover and as we discover, a fearless brawler where our furry friends are concerned. Kit – unsurprisingly – thinks he might be a stalker and looks for the spy camera. Martin keeps trying, and then starts to explain. Turns out they usually meet a week on Friday (stay with me) because Martin does a nifty line in time travel (unless you’re a cat). He’s no Dr Who, the furthest back he’s been is 1942 when he introduced himself to his granddad on an allotment and was cagey about his Nirvana t shirt. We never hear exactly how he explains himself on the allotment, but we do learn Martin cannot recommend drunken time travel, I won’t tell you how it ends, you should have bought a ticket, but it was a simple and effective piece, with sparky dialogue and clearly defined characters. Very entertaining start to the evening.

Cafe Society by Colin Calvert was directed by Rachel Martin who played Pauline, a customer in the cafe. Luigi the waiter (Chris Caine with an interesting walk) is bemoaning the missing condiments and Pauline is still waiting for the moustachioed Bella (Are you drunk again?) to provide her Fruita de la mer pizza. We never meet Bella – I think that’s a pity, she sounds interesting, but we do meet Patrick played by Karl Bovenizer. He arrives, cool shoes and a smart suit. After some pleasant conversation, all very normal, and quite a lot of wine, Pauline and Patrick share the pizza. Unusually though their conversation quickly turns into a scene from Brief Encounter which is not something I’ve ever done over Fruita de la Mer. In this version Stan won Celia with a beautifully delivered ‘bugger Geoffrey’ and they grip passionately amongst the chequered table cloths. It all brought tears to Luigi’s eyes, tho that might have been Bella’s cooking. Of course there’s a twist, and it all comes down to a misplaced door. Patrick isn’t quite what he seems (apparently he’s short sighted too). Three interesting characters played very nicely by the cast. Some very sensitive moments contrasted well with the comedy. The setting was clearly an Italian cafe and the ending came as quite a surprise. Would love to know what Noel Coward thought of their version of Brief Encounter too!

We’re in another café for the third play which is Waiting by Lisa Creighton. Highly strung Andy (Robin Higgins) is supposed to be in the gym but he turns up for his filter coffee and is apparently waiting to meet someone. He’s nervous so wise waitress Joy (Rachael McWhinnie) suggests decaff. Andy has lots of letters from Jules, not Julie his wife, but flamboyant Jules, wearer of the scarlet scarf. He’s never met Jules before, but he thinks he’d like her, seeing as Julie has been a bit mopey recently, what with the miscarriage and being depressed and a bit boring. (Do you like the sound of this guy?). Fortunately neither did fate, because next customer is colleague Richard (Adam Braidwood) who wonders what Andy is doing over this side of town. Poor Andy, Richard keeps asking awkward questions. He thinks on his feet, no cos he’s house hunting, his elderly neighbours are driving him out with their gifts of trifle. Paula (Rachael Webb) comes in next, she’s young & pretty, well maybe not that young says Andy (I’m liking him more and more). Poor wise Joy struggles bravely with Andy’s ego, spotting a similarity with her ex no doubt. We do get a flash of Andy’s childhood which answers some questions, and some Kate Bush & turns out Paula is using peppermint tea to subvert her desires for Gothic romance, though it doesn’t extend to cockroaches. Just to make Andy’s day the monster in law arrives Mrs Baxter (Lindsay Quayle) and she’s class, a spikey mission shopper with no patience and probably a neat right hook. Better still she’s meeting Julie (the wife!) for lunch in the very same café. Does Andy realise what a moron he’s been? Did Mrs Baxter ever get to punch his lights out – we’ll never know, but wonder if we ever got to meet Jules – nice one Linds… Great ensemble effort, great timing, and plenty of energy.

Excellent selection of entries to open the first night of the MADF One Act Play Festival 2017!

  • Helen Clarke, MADF Treasurer

A Final Few Words from the One Act Play Adjudicator

Robert MeadowsIt was an absolute delight to return to the Isle of Man as the adjudicator for the 2016 One Act Play Festival this February. 

The event takes place in a first class setting, the Erin Arts Centre; the town is blessed to have such an excellent facility. What also impressed me was the enthusiasm of the groups, youth and adult, to bring to the stage a range of challenging and entertaining plays. There were five youth entries involving over thirty, talented young people. All those young performers were totally committed to their roles and fully understood how to bring to stage life complex ideas and sensitive issues. They used a range of performance styles and it was clear that the directors involved in shaping the work had brought the best out of those young performers from St Ninian’s School, Broadway Theatre Company, Stage One Drama and the Youth Arts Centre.  Sometimes young actors are not given sufficiently engaging material to work with; that is certainly not true of the Isle of Man.  I was able to see the width of the talent pool when judging the first round of The Young Actor of Man; trying to achieve the almost impossible in selecting eight finalists from a crop of 21 very fine performers.

The adult drama scene is also thriving. What a range of plays! Spoofs of ‘Strictly’, original dramas drawing on stories about the coming of Christianity, tales of injustice and broken hearts as well as reminiscences on age, the horror of war and the pain of separation: the full gamut was presented by talented directors, designers and actors.

It was also good to see full houses supporting the work of the local groups; all absorbed and engaged, keen to share their own views and opinions on what they had watched on the stage. I very much enjoyed sharing my thoughts about the productions with the audiences throughout the week.

Finally, it was a friendly festival. There was tremendous kindness and hospitality extended by all involved in running the event so efficiently. I very much enjoyed my visit. 

  • Robert Meadows, GoDA

The final night and awards for the One Act Festival!

Sadly it’s all over till next year!

Our Saturday Matinee featured two Youth plays: Mother’s Pride by Manx writer Chris Maybury, a play spotlighting the definition of ‘normal’ performed by St. Ninians High School and Eclipse by Youth Arts Centre, Douglas, a Simon Armitage play full of rhythm & poetry with a touch of mysticism.

The evening session opened with Arbory Players presenting James Franklin’s World Premiere The Coming of the Saints who chose to sit in a boat in the Irish Sea till washed ashore on Man. Our second play by Rushen Players I Dream Before I Take the Stand, a very powerful two hander with minimal set and strong characterisation, injected a serious note to the proceedings. Hog the Limelight’s Henna Night, rounding off an excellent evening’s entertainment, had both humour and pathos along with wet hair and ‘tea which cures all ills’.

Robert Meadows proved his weight in gold. He was constructive, illuminating, entertaining and positive at all times. He reinforced our belief that the talent on the Island is second to none and with a turnout of 14 plays he must be right.

You can see all the results here.

A big Thank You to John Bethel for the availability of such a wonderful venue for our Festival.

And Special mention to Mike Lean, without whose expertise, dedication and helpfulness our Festival could not happen. Mike was suffering throughout the Festival with a bad cough but Strepsils and a hot toddy (after each night) kept him going.

  • Susie Beswick, MADF One Act Play Festival Coordinator