THREE sisters arrive at their remote childhood home on the eve of their mother’s funeral.This is the setting for Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water, which comes to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from Tuesday 21 May to Saturday 25 May.

Having grown apart, the siblings argue and joke as they sort through their mother’s belongings and gradually confide about the realities of their own adult lives. But it’s when they move on to childhood recollections that they discover they remember things differently, leading to a series of dramatic and devastating revelations.

Theatregoers should expect tears and laughter from a cast which includes Juliet Cowan (Cuckoo, EastEnders, Shameless), Nicholas Bailey (EastEnders) and Stewart Wright(People Like Us, Love and Marriage).

A GRIPPING drama, partly written especially for a Woking drama group by an EastEnders scriptwriter is coming to the Rhoda McGaw Theatre.

Burning the Witch has been adapted for the stage from acclaimed radio dramas, with a third act wrapping up the story.

Star Claire Racklyeft on the poster for Burning The Witch

The first act is based on This Repulsive Woman, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and written by Christopher Reason as a “rapid reaction play” inspired by the Shannon Matthews case in which a mother faked her daughter’s kidnap so she and her boyfriend could pocket the reward money.

The play features a character similar to Shannon’s mother Karen; a woman from a run-down estate who is vilified in the tabloid press for her crime.

The second, Every Child Matters, act looks at how social services deals with such cases and the mountain of similar events while being pushed and pulled by public opinion, the police and politicians.

Horsell Amateur Dramatic Society adapted both plays for drama festivals in Woking and Spelthorne, winning a host of awards.

Colin Orbaum, who directed both plays, persuaded Christopher, who has also written for Casualty, The Bill and Coronation Street as well as many radio plays, to write a third act, which ties up many of the loose ends from the other two.

The cast is led by Claire Racklyeft, who plays three characters; Debbie Hurst, the woman accused of exploiting her daughter for money; Joanne, the social worker on the case; and Patti, the social work manager.

Claire said she was looking forward to returning to the roles and also performing all three acts as a single play.

“This trilogy finally answers the questions and tells the story from each couple’s perspective forcing us to ask, ‘what is the truth and who is to blame’?”

Colin, who has worked hard over several years to bring the full play to the stage, said that This Repulsive Woman moved him and made a lasting impression.

“I especially appreciate the excellence of Christopher’s dialogue, which is witty and moving at the same time. It is a delight to work with. I also like the fact that he deals with themes of genuine social conscience.”

Burning the Witch will be performed at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking town centre from Thursday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £15 (concessions £13). Book at (no booking fee) or by calling 01483 808354.

For the full story get the 25 April edition of the News & Mail

THIRTY budding actors have enrolled for workshops run by the revived Woking Youth Theatre.

WYT has been relaunched by a group of former members, now well into their forties and fifties,  after closing more than 10 years ago.

The new class of the revived Woking Youth Theatre with Emma Hough, the workshop leader and Bruce Hazelton, the WYT chairman.

Bruce Hazelton, the group’s chairman, said the first workshop was a great success, with participants engaging in drama-based games and improvisation for nearly two hours.

Workshops are lead by Emma Hough who has a Masters Degree in musical theatre.

Catherine Lake, youngest daughter of WYT’s late founder David Hawksworth said she was delighted by the revived group.

“Woking Youth Theatre has started again! The room was buzzing with new faces,” Catherine said. “The workshop was just right and they all seemed to love it. Roll on next week.”

For the full story get the 28 March edition of the News & Mail

GET set for an evening of fun and laughter, as it’s panto time once again in Ripley – oh yes it is!

Ripley Pantomime is bringing Jack and the Beanstalk to the stage next week to support local charities. It’s the 44th year the group has staged an annual performance, stretching back to 1975 when the PTA of Ripley First School decided to put on a yearly pantomime the children could enjoy.

The Ripley cast from last year’s production of Aladdin

Since then, Ripley Pantomime has annually staged a show together with support from the parents, staff and students of what became Ripley C of E Primary School – but this year’s production is the first without helping hands from the school following its closure last year.

Despite losing the pool of pupils and staff who shared the stage and attended the performances, as well as their school support base who helped in the lead up to the shows, the group is adamant that they will keep performing and raising money for charity.

Money raised from this year’s rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk will be split between several charities including the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices, a postnatal support group in Guildford, the St Mary Magdalen Church and the village hall in Ripley.

Rehearsals have been building ahead of opening night next Wednesday, 20 March at the village hall. The show runs to 23 March, with an afternoon matinee on Saturday as well.

Tickets can be bought through Wills & Smerdon on 01483 224343 or booked online at Tickets start at £7 for adults, from £5 for concession and £20 for families.

For more on this story as well as our special picture feature, get the 14 March News & Mail