Demon Days

And so the rehearsals begin…

…and I must say it was a great little session on Wednesday despite the rather cool temperature in the back room of the church hall. It’s great to be reminded of the reasons why we do this, after the lengthy festive hiatus, and ’twas a lot of fun working with Annie. K, Dot, the returning Bethany Reeve and newcomer Lucy Montague, putting the groundwork into some of the early scenes. After working on ‘Books’ and ‘Shkspear’, which demanded a slightly modified approach to direction, it was quite nice to get into some early character work and lay the foundations in fleshing out some of this gallery of grotesque characters. I am not going to speak at all too soon but we were back and it was good.

And with going back in mind it’s time to have another dabble in the archive, on this occasion reaching in to 2006 and David Hare’s ‘Racing Demon’. This was something of a departure from many of the plays that had been going on with The Matchbox at that time being a thought provoking, politically charged exploration of matters ecclesiastical. Directed by Tim, I remember vividly the abstract scaffolding on the main stage and the more naturalistic setting on floor level as John, Mike, Alan and myself donned our various cassocks and vicarly mantle to portray a broad variety of characters and issues. As well as Lewis, John, Terry Gauntlet and Tim himself in support, I well remember Dot as a haunted wife wandering Lady Macbeth like about the stage, Gill in a particularly obscene shade of pink towelling and Zoe boldly baring all, although with ultimate decorum beneath covers. Although not a play that has occupied the ‘memorable’ section of my mind, my reflections of it looking at the pictures above has rekindled a something of a respectable enthusiasm for our good works nearly eight years ago. It has, in fact, reminded me what an engaging and provocative play it actually was, the very thing that I enjoy and that we do so well. Although quite an understated piece and I do have a soft spot for it and my role of Donald ‘Streaky’ Bacon, a part slightly removed from the Brian Blessed School of Theatre.

But, look at the time. It’s now the weekend, so I will leave you to whatever entertainments you have in store and be back next week with fresh news from ‘The Government Inspector’ and a dip a little further back even than our flirt with the angels and demons of the clergy. Until then, all the very best and stay well,

M x


An Inspector Calls…


So, I am back online and we are back with our first production of 2014, a cracking translation of Nikolai Gogol’s ‘The Government Inspector’ which we will be bringing to ‘larger than life’ over the next couple of months for performance on March 20th-22nd, and not a moment too soon. , The continued frustration of ongoing injury has meant me missing out on a couple of interesting theatrical opportunities and so it is great to have chance to throw one’s energies into a new project and a mighty ambitious one at that. With a cast of over twenty, numerous comings and goings and some potential for elaborate costume and set, this is a world away from the minimalist adventures of ‘All the Great Books’, ‘The Compleat Works’ and ‘Talking Heads’, indeed it has potential to be positively epic! And very, very funny. The read-through at the weekend was testament to that, with many titters and laugh out loud moments around the table at David Harrower’s sparky, punchy and incisive adaptation of the original. I can assure you that this is not dry 19th century Russian literature but fresh, up to date, contemporary comedy filtered through the slapstick anarchy of ‘The Young Ones’ and ‘Bottom’, the surrealism of ‘The Mighty Boosh’, the social satire and biting acidity of ‘Blackadder’ with a touch of ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, Vic and Bob and Morecambe and Wise thrown in alongside a side-order of baroque pantomime. And if you have no idea what that actually amounts to then you really will have to see the play.

It has, of course, been a wrench diverting from the proposed ‘Accrington Pals’ project and it is my hope that we will still go ahead with that in some form, but the stars seem to have aligned to suggest that the time was better suited to undertake this Russian classic. And it is not difficult to see why this play has been revived so many times in recent years with such comic actors as Rik Mayall, Alistair McGowan, Julien Barrett (pictured above) powering through this comic masterpiece; and for those of a slightly earlier vintage, even Tony Hancock had a go at it. It is greater pleasure still that our version will be populated by Matchbox members old and new, young and…slightly not so young. It promises to be a barnstorming three nights, hilarious, entertaining and though provoking to boot. I hope therefore you will join us over the next few weeks and tune in to developments from rehearsals, insider tales and fresh insights as well as a return to nostalgia and a few extra trinkets and ruminations about this funny old world of amateur theatre. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Until next time
M x

On with the show!

Well, hello again. And a belated Happy New year to you all. I trust the Christmas season was suitably festive and provided some sort of opportunity to refresh for 2014 which is now well and truly upon us. January can of course be something of a gloomy month, particularly with the weather we’ve been having of late, but the Matchblog is back online and hopefully that will provide a moment or two of sunshine in amongst the drear. It’s certainly set to be a busy year; the archive is brimming with nostalgia and many a pic from productions past, a few interesting stories and articles lie in store as well as, of course, news of our next production. This latter has not been as smooth a process as I would have hoped but, fingers crossed, all will be revealed at the weekend.

So, hopefully I will see a few of you at the AGM on Sunday and many more of you as the year goes on but suffice to say, we’re back and busy. I hope you will take opportunity to look in from time to time, take care, be well and here’s to a fantastic year of theatre at St Francis.

M x