Working with A Bunch of Amateurs

A COMIC play co-written by Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You team captain, Ian Hislop, comes to the stage in Woking this month.

A Bunch of Amateurs, written by Hislop and Nick Newman, will be performed by the Horsell Amateur Dramatic Society (HADS) at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, the group’s first live stage performance since 2019 because of pandemic restrictions.

IN CHARACTER – Left to right: Jenny Swift, Alan Arlington, Karina Oakley, Paulette Gardner, Phill Snell and Alex Gold

The play was turned into a film in 2008 starring Burt Reynolds in the lead role as fading Hollywood action hero Jefferson Steele, who is sent by his agent to England to star in King Lear in Stratford in the hopes of boosting his flagging career.

To his dismay, Steele finds that the Shakespeare tragedy is not being performed by some of Britain’s finest actors in the home of the Bard, but by an amateur theatre group in the sleepy village of Stratford St. Mary in Suffolk.

The theatre group hope that the former Hollywood star will help to save their theatre from developers. However, when he finds himself in a world of zero budgets, dodgy sets and even dodgier acting things are doomed not to work out as planned.

The play is being directed by Anne Leggett, who said: “After months of no theatre during lockdowns, HADS decided that their audience needs to be entertained with a really funny comedy.”

The key role of the fish-out-of-water Steele will be played by Martin Gardner, who said: “The pace of the play is frenetic, and we have a lot of props and costume changes to keep track of, so it is quite a challenge. I’m very much looking forward to performing this very funny play.”

A Bunch of Amateurs will be performed from 11 to 13 November.

Tickets can be bought by visiting www.atgtickets.com/venues/rhoda-mcgaw-theatre-woking/ or by calling 0333 009 6690.

* HADS’ Jenny Strawson was named best actress at the Spelthorne and Runnymede Drama Festival awards in October for her role in the gripping drama Equal Terms. Claire Racklyeft was shortlisted for best actress and Colin Orbaum shortlisted for best director. The play came third at the recent Woking Drama Festival, with Jenny, Claire and Colin all shortlisted for awards.

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