The time draws closer. A week today the first night of ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’ would have been and gone. To give you another taste of what’s to be expected I’ll shortly be revealing the next thirty books.

BUT… before you get to that I thought it might be nice to share with you a few photos that I meant to post last year whilst we were doing ‘The Complete Works’ when our friend Jane Darnbrough at Reptile Events dropped us a line offering the services of a few of her virtuouso performers to play Cleopatra’s asp! Regrettably they were too big for the part and though, at one point, whilst considering offering them starring roles in The Garden of Eden scene from The Bible this year, it had to be deleted and so these serpentine stars were once again unable to join us. Who knows though, maybe we’ll do ‘The Great Movies’ sometime and look at ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, now there would be a scene!

I seem to have a problem remembering things at the moment – and thanks Vicky for solving last week’s maid mystery in ‘Night Must Fall’- so if you are reading this Jane perhaps you could drop a line and pass on the names for our possible stars of the future. But it is the present that occupies the mind and with technical and dress rehearsals imminent it’s all systems go. Thus here’s a taste of what else is to come next week. The remaining 29 await revelation which I may fling your way next week but in the meantime scan these greats and have a wonderful weekend.

The Aeneid
Anna Karenina
The Brothers Karamazov
The Count of Monte Cristo
Crime and Punishment
David Copperfield
Death in Venice
Diary of Anne Frank
The Divine Comedy
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Fifty Shades of Grey
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Gone With The Wind
The Grapes of Wrath
Great Expectations
Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Iliad
The Invisible Man
Of Mice and Men
Oliver Twist
On The Road
The Origin of Species
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Pride and Prejudice
Wuthering Heights

M x




Egads, one week from now we will be into the first dress rehearsal for ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’. Tickets have been selling well so now really is the time to order them if you haven’t already done so, sales invariably go up at this stage of the game and I would hate for you to be disappointed at what promises to be a hilarious night out. Details are available on our website:

In the meantime here is a taste of thirty of the texts to expect during the evening:

Alice in Wonderland
Animal Farm
Brave New World
The Canterbury Tales
A Christmas Carol
Don Quixote
The Great Gatsby
Green Eggs and Ham
Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s
Heart of Darkness
Hound of the Baskervilles
Huckleberry Finn
Little Women
Lord of the Flies
Moby Dick
The Odyssey
One Flew Over The Cuckooʼs Nest
Plato’s Republic
Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary
The Satanic Verses
A Tale of Two Cities
The Three Musketeers
Treasure Island
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Valley of the Dolls
War and Peace
The Wizard of Oz

I’ll share another thirty with you a litle later on in the week. And again, let me make it clear, NO prior knowledge of any of these books is required. It is our job to bestow that upon you, done in the inimitable style of The Matchbox Sized Shakespeare Company.

In other news, I continue to be befuddled with technology so STILL no new pics, just one of yours truly to act as a place holder and a reminder that this is an MSSC production and you know what that means…

Catch you later on in the week.


A Bad Workman

Technology can be a funny old thing, though sometimes it is simply a case of bringing the wrong tools for the job and thus the promised photos and trailer for the upcoming ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’ gets knocked a little further down the schedule. Oh for want of a cable with the right attachment.

Anyway, while waiting for that I spent a little time ferreting more deeply round the files for my next retrospective and have stumbled as far back as March 2005 and our production of Emlyn Williams ‘Night Must Fall’ directed by Pat Williams. Set in Essex, this was a classic mystery signposted with twists and turns and touches of tension culminating in an act of brutal murder by a young villain in the guise of loyal worker for the mistress of the house. In no particular order I remember suspended windows and maybe even a door, Alan Cumbers blondifying for his portrayal of Danny the antagonist, Joan in her wheelchair, Annie’s debut performance, my own plus fours and Gill’s delight at the romantic lead. But for me, as I reflect on it now, it was one of the small number of plays in the Matchbox canon that didn’t quite work. It is difficult to put a finger on it now all these years down the line. Maybe it was an underwhelming sense of menace, maybe it was the casting which didn’t necessarily play upon the strengths of the group or maybe it was just the play itself but, for me, it just didn’t click. That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time with it; it was a lot of fun and I recall fondly it being one of the first plays where I learnt my lines somewhat effortlessly and forewent The Hortensio Curve tm (as I have said before, I really must tell you about it sometime). And I am not the biggest fan of this kind of play as my opinions of last summer’s ‘Murder Deferred’ show. I know it was well received by many of our audience members, it’s just not up there with the classics in my opinion. It certainly doesn’t make it unworthy of a revisitation on these pages however and looking at the small collection of photos above did bring back some pleasant memories and also the greatest mystery in this piece: who the devil is the young lady playing the maid Dora? I can’t for the life of me remember. She appeared in but one of our productions as far as I recall but, bereft of a programme, I name her. There will be a prize for anyone who can furnish me with that answer.

And on that note I’m back off to find my dongle. Have a great weekend, take care and I’ll be back with lots of stuff on ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’ next week.

Ta ta
M x

Standing on the Soapbox


(Sorry, I thought this had been published yesterday. Don’t know what happened there.)

Although this blog is primarily for the purpose of celebrating the work of The Matchbox both past and present occasionally I think it important to open it up a bit to focus on broader issues of a dramatic nature. Many of us involved with the group are passionate about drama and realise its importance on so many levels. It is therefore disturbing to read of proposals to remove it from the curriculum at GCSE alongside a number of key and important subjects:

Now I know that I am a teacher, a teacher of Film and Media Studies at that, and so have a particular interest in this, and believe me the first draft of this was something of a polemic! Nonetheless perhaps those of you not in the profession are not aware of such worrying proposals thus I don’t feel bad in flagging them up. I will, however, save my spleen venting for my occasional outbursts on Facebook, the Matchblog is a happy place after all! Instead I will simply draw your attention to another blog which is focussed on just this matter and hope that maybe you might look in, perhaps follow, and even offer an opinion yourself.

Must get back to it but hope you are having a spiffing Wednesday. More from Matchbox front line tomorrow.

M x

A Monday Matter of Mumbling

The Great Gatsby

Finally back to work after a good two months of getting to grips with the ankle inury so that might lead to a slight curtailing of posts to the blog. That stated, with the countdown to ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’ well and truly on (tickets on sale now) you can be sure I’ll be tuning in as regularly as I can and will be publishing an update in the next few days. Also, I hope I’ll have more news regarding the casting for next year’s ‘Accrington Pals’ and, hopefully, another dip into the archive. In the meantime, having referenced Immogen Stubbs in the previous post I thought this little article from earlier in the year might prove an interesting read:

One thing I feel fairly certain of is that the mumbling actor is not a regular on our stage but maybe you might think otherwise!

Happy Monday and will catch you later.

M x

Band of Sisters

With the recent mood of rememberance it seems wholly appropriate for this week’s retrospective to look back at July 2012’s ‘We Happy Few’. In the absence of a Normanhurst Festival this year, this play, written by the celebrated actress Imogen Stubbs, provided a vehicle for our biennial focus on The Bard following a group of female actors touring Shakespeare plays round the United Kingdom during World War II, based on the real-life touring group, the Osiris Players. As with the best of the Matchbox work it was at times uproariously funny tempered with some moments of high emotion and pathos. Like ‘The Merry Regiment’ previously( this was a great outing for the ladies of the group and provided roles across the age range with strong performances all round. That is not to say the men were left out, as you can tell from the photos, and I personally much enjoyed my mayoral cameo. Although thinking about it now, it strikes me that this was the last scripted role I actually played on the Matchbox stage; perhaps it is time to rectify that.

However, that aside, this was very much a play about sisterhood and feminine camaraderie and director Mike Downing managed to achieve a great balance in mood and characterisation, in particular in the debut of Amber Napthine and a barnstorming performance from Annie Norris as Hettie, leader of the troupe. She will probably tell me to excise this but as it was also Annie’s last performance at St. Francis’s I make an open suggestion that once our journeys as director/producer have run their course we return to that church hall floor together sometime next year!

Anyway, not only was this a splendidly acted piece but also imaginatively staged with the actors oftentimes hiding behind a wall of costumes and stage paraphernalia before emerging to various scenes, and above all this a screen upon which various multi-media offerings played. A wonderful combination of traditional and experimental, bitter and sweet, it was another successful production and one certainly worthy of remembering at this particular time. Thus, as always, I hope you enjoy the selection of photos and it provides a memory or two of your own and will see you next time.


M x



Just a warm thank you to all who attended yesterday’s auditions for ‘The Accrington Pals’. It was great to see a variety of faces – some old, some new -and it is refreshing to look forward to a project where we will be able to bring some fresh blood to the St Francis stage. Both myself and Annie, who will again be producing, were much impressed by the talent on show and will be having some interesting and, no doubt, difficult discussions over the next few days. There are still folk to be seen who weren’t able to attend yesterday but hopefully before the week is out we will be able to make some sort of casting announcement. On this day of all days of the year it seems appropriate to consider the rationale behind taking on such a play and I feel certain it will be a truly memorable experience when it goes up next March.

I will leave it there but keep an eye out for another dip into our archive in the next couple of days as well as a big update on our forthcoming production ‘All the Great Books (abridged)’.

In the meantime, take care, and the very best of wishes.

M x