And so the new year is firmly underway and work begins on our March production, The 39 Steps. More details on that very soon but as many of you know, last weekend saw a sizeable turnout for the AGM. Besides the usual agenda items very serious mention was made regarding the current need of a Stage Manager to assist in the running of shows. Although recent plays have managed effectively and imaginatively without this role being firmly filled, the time is approaching when producing plays with minimal or no sets becomes challenging. To this end if there is anyone reading, or you know anyone, who would be interested in getting a feel for the position, I would welcome their involvement in the forthcoming Steps. Please drop a line to the blog in the first instance and we can take it from there.

As is traditional, here is Annie’s speech as Chair:

always a very warm welcome to you all and thank you for coming along to support our 36th AGM.

2017 – Another year upon which to reflect – it has been interesting, at times testing and frustrating, but nevertheless it has also been successful and diverse.  In large part this is due to our lack of a regular Stage Manager and consistent back stage support.  This is not to suggest that everyone involved has done other than work extremely hard and been committed and loyal to each production.   But we shall talk more on this subject a little later.

Our first production for 2017 was The Farndale Farces, directed by Mike Savill.  These two farces had the advantage of providing opportunities for a large number of actors but, at least partly because of the need to manage with a minimal set – it was decided we would not enter the production into the BTG festival.   It was nevertheless enjoyed by our audiences, who always appreciate something funny on a chilly March evening!

After much discussion about the summer production Tim undertook to direct (with a little help from yours truly!) another evening of Talking Heads.  We had last done a trio of Alan Bennett monologues in 2013. This time we did two AB monologues, brilliantly performed by Dot Pullan and Helen Roffey – and, because AB’s monologues are nearly all for women and in the interest of maintaining a balanced evening! – Tim found Anorak of Fire by Stephen Dinsdale which was equally brilliantly performed by Zach Stiling.  Each performance was very well received, the audiences are always in awe of the actors’ ability to learn and perform for 35-40 and, in Zach’s case, 50 minutes.

And so to the December production ……..what could we possibly do that didn’t require a set!!!   Vicky and Pat read a number of plays and Vicky decided to go with Jumpy by April de Angelis.  This was a play that started life in the  Royal Court Theatre, a modern play with a modern take on various possible situations in “every day family life”!  We did sanitise the script for the benefit of the audience – and ourselves actually – and it lost nothing in the performance.   Although for some reason our audiences were smaller than usual, this play was much enjoyed by all who came – with some classic moments of comedy from everyone involved.  It was particularly good to have four of our younger actors performing.

As with The Railway Children in 2015, the movement of props was co-ordinated so that it became part of the action and this was also appreciated, commented on and applauded by the audience.

Our grateful thanks to Mike Sav, Tim and Vicky for keeping us going this year, with diverse productions and coping with everything involved with each production.  Each one is a huge commitment all involved – so my thanks and appreciation to all members for all they do front and back stage.

Thank you once again to Vicky for all her efforts, quite apart from directing!  Posters, handbills, programmes and tickets are very time consuming to design and produce.  Our thanks also to Gill Kehoe for continuing to organise refreshments for each performance, keeping stock and arranging the rota.  Gill has agreed to carry on for one more year, but will retire after this December’s production – so we need to find someone who is prepared to take over this responsibility and we also need more people who would be prepared to go on the list of helpers.  If there’s anyone here who would be interested or who knows someone that might be – please do let Gill know.

Thank you Sav for continuing to produce the Matchblog.  I hope  you all see and enjoy it.  Please look out for it, share with other Matchbox supporters and add your comments.  Feedback is always helpful and appreciated.

As always, many thanks to all committee members for the time and effort they put in during the year.  And lastly – our grateful thanks to the church for their patience and understanding in allowing us to borrow furniture of all descriptions and to store excess chairs and boxes in the Bernard Dent room.

Our March production has been decided and auditions are underway with a read through next week.   So we look forward to seeing you all again throughout the year and thank you for your ongoing support.  Please stay and enjoy the refreshments – we look forward to the chance to chat and catch up with you after the meeting.

AMN 7.1.18

I hope that your year has started safely and splendidly and that the January gloom hasn’t lingered too long. I will be back here in a week or so with an update or two and a return to the nostalgia bank and a few reflections on plays of yore. Have a great week, take care and see you soon,

M x


Happy New Year

A very Happy and Healthy New Year to all friends and members of the Matchbox Theatre; here’s hoping 2018 is another year of great theatre.

All the very best and see you soon

M x

Seasons Greetings

A Merry Christmas to Matchbox members, friends and audiences new and old. Wishing you all a splendidly healthy and hearty and fun filled festive period, from the Matchblog.

Loads of love

M x

Audition Announcement: March Play

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the March play of 2018 will be The 39 Steps. This adaptation of John Buchan’s novel and, more notably, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller has been a popular favourite in the West End for many years winning numerous awards including the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. It has long been a desire of mine to direct it but when the time came two years ago the rights were unavailable. In the interim the rights became available once again and both Bromley Little theatre and Theatre 62 have staged it.

Now it is the Matchbox’s turn.

In the tradition of ‘The Compleat Shakspear (abridged)’ and ‘All the Great Books’ this Matchbox Sized Shakespeare Company production will have 4 (possibly 5 actors) playing all 150 parts. As one would expect it will involve a lot of physical performance from all actors who are pretty much on stage all the time. Timing and speed will be essential as well as the ability to perform this spoof with the sincerity it needs to be truly funny. The cast is as follows:

Richard Hannay (male)– playing age 30ish, tall, dark and handsome, British orphan, involved in international espionage and intrigue

Pamela, Annabella, Margaret (female)– playing age 30s, played by same actress, love interest, secret agent, Scottish wife, also involved in espionage and intrigue.

Clowns (2 or 3 – any mixture of male or female, age is open): These actors play all other supporting characters. They include spies, commuters, madmen, vaudevillians, policemen, Scots, innkeepers, heavies. Must be fairly versatile with dialects and accents and be willing to be take on a lot of physicality.

Auditions will be held on Wednesday 3rd January with the intention of doing the read-through on Monday 8th January and beginning in earnest on Sunday 14th January. Performance dates are 15th-17th March. Rehearsals will be most Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

If you are interested in auditioning but unable to make that date then please let me know by email or on 07940495474 and I will arrange an alternative time. They will start at 8:00 at St. Francis Church Hall, Ravenswood Ave, West Wickham.

If you wish to get involved in a backstage capacity then please let me know as and when is convenient, there will be plenty to do.

Audition pieces will be available within the next week and will be sent out upon request. Please let me know if you would like to read the play and I will send a copy to you.

As always, if there are any problems,  queries or issues then please let me know and if you think there is anyone who would be interested in this and who is not on the mailing list above please forward accordingly.  I look forward to seeing many of you there and adding another hugely successful show to the Matchbox repertoire.

Best wishes

Mike x

THE MATCHBOX PANTOMIME 2017 (and an important request)


As the year begins to draw to a close, thoughts turn for many to the festive season and a chance hopefully for some rest and reflection. As always it is a quieter time in Matchbox Theatre land…

…Oh no it isn’t!

Oh yes it is!

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the closest  we will ever get to a pantomime. Though I personally would love to channel the inner dame – can’t you tell?

Nonetheless even with this being the case thoughts are turning to next year’s productions and a notice will be going out about auditions for the March play in the next few days. We also have the AGM to start the year on 7th January and we would be VERY grateful if as many people as possible could come to this meeting as there are some important matters to discuss regarding the future of the group; the more people who turn up, the more ideas and suggestions might be forthcoming regarding the issues currently being faced. We hope the promise of cheese and wine will be enough to entice.

So, though this isn’t quite the last post of the year, I do sincerely hope you are gearing up for a suitably restful/exciting/quiet/decadent/debauched (delete where applicable) festive season. Take care and will catch up soon and, remember…


Until next time,

M x


Life Begins at Fifty?

And so ‘Jumpy’, the 105th Matchbox Theatre production has come to an end. A departure in terms of tone and subject matter but undeniably a successful run that entertained, amused and provoked much thought throughout its three day run. Presented with minimal set, the piece flowed slickly through the crises of Hilary and the various characters with whom her mid-life intersects. Adultery, teen pregnancy, the waywardness of youth, feminism and belly dancing (obviously) were amongst the themes on show and there is no question that the audience enjoyed the strength of cast performance alongside the fluidity of the set transferring from bedroom to beach, coffee shop to cottage. Very much an ensemble piece, there was a great camaraderie within the company and crew, though there is no question that K’s dynamic, engaging, nuanced performance as Hilary was the glue that held the storytelling together – that, and her lightning fast skill at slipping in and out of different costumes for virtually every scene. This, along with beautifully apposite sound and unflashy but perfect lighting, ensured that this would be a soiree to remember. I have said before that Vicky Pearce brings a holistic vision to any plays that she directs and that was very much the case with ‘Jumpy’. Having worked on it from the very beginning the concept remained firm and, despite  challenges, remained so even if a short cut was prompted here or a rethink there.

So, another great show.

Nonetheless, to lour some clouds upon our house, it must be said that much of its success was ‘in spite of’ rather then ‘because’. These challenges thrown up are becoming increasingly problematic and this in turn throws up questions, questions that prompt some weighty discussion….

But that is for the near future! Suffice to say that the group’s reputation for quality and varied theatre remains safe, not because of my own subjective bias, but from the numerous positive comments and observations made by the exiting crowd across all three days. And, as is customary on such occasions there are many  memorable moments that made ‘Jumpy’ such a great night, some of which can be seen above.

M x

Leaping Back on the Bandwagon

Well, it’s not an unusual thing for me to apologise about being behind with bloggage but with a gap of nearly half a year…I have been remiss. Very remiss. So, much to catch up on then as you might well imagine.

Foremost is of course our upcoming December production, Jumpy, which goes up this Thursday (30th November). Indeed, I am writing these words as the technical rehearsal unfolds, the usual melee of pdychedelic light, random effects and the soundtrack of our lives!

The play is a bit of a departure for the group- keeping in with the recent trend of experimental, off beat and out of the ordinary choices of play, it provides something novel for cast and audiences. Debuting at the Duke of York in 2011 and written by April de Angelis, it enjoyed a great deal of popularity and critical success and is therefore a perfect choice for the Matchbox. Described as a tragedy played like a farce it takes at it’s heart the mid life crisis of Hilary and her struggles with a stale marriage, the threat of job loss and, not least, her 15 year old daughter Tilly’s provocative sexuality and utter contempt for her mother. Played by Tamsin Grieg originally, Hilary’s menopausal journey is a bittersweet series of encounters and misadventures that offers many instances of hilarity but also relatability.

The male mid life crisis is fertile territory for theatre, less so that of the woman’s equivalent and Jumpy therefore offers exciting challenge for the group. Directed by Vicky Pearce, well known for her creative staging, with K Isom as Hilary, this promises to be an excellent night of theatre. With a small but perfectly formed cast of young and old(er) it has unquestionably been rehearsed to a refined polish that brings out the very best of the humour, and the poignancy.

More mature in content than some recent fare it is nonetheless neither vulgar or crude and anyone over the age of 14 will be able to appreciate the various beats and moments at the heart of the play. It’s certainly a great one for the blog to return to after such a long hiatus, and we are looking forward to once again entertaining audiences with something a little different. Tickets are still available for this Thursday, Friday and Saturday so if you haven’t got hold of one yet, make sure you pick them up sooner rather than later.

So, hello again, thanks for having me back, sorry for the absence, it won’t happen again. Promise.

Until the next time.

M x