Tuesday, January 12, 2021

3rd February 2021: The Weir and Master Class

This month we will be reading two short plays. 

The Weir

By Conor McPherson

The play opens in a rural Irish pub with Brendan, the publican and Jack, a car mechanic and garage owner. These two begin to discuss their respective days and are soon joined by Jim. The three then discuss Valerie, a pretty young woman from Dublin who has just rented an old house in the area.

Finbar, a businessman, arrives with Valerie, and the play revolves around reminiscences and banter. After a few drinks, the group begin telling stories with a supernatural slant, related to their own experience or those of others in the area, and which arise out of the popular preoccupations of Irish folklore: ghosts, fairies and mysterious happenings.

After each man (except Brendan) has told a story, Valerie tells her own: the reason why she has left Dublin,  with a ghostly twist which echoes the earlier tales, and shocks the men. 


  • Jack, a mechanic and garage owner in his fifties.
  • Brendan, the owner of the pub in which the play is set. He is in his thirties.
  • Jim, Jack's assistant, in his forties.
  • Finbar Mack, a local businessman in his late forties.
  • Valerie, a Dublin woman in her thirties.

The Master Class

By Terrence McNally

The opera diva Maria Callas, a glamorous, commanding, larger-than-life, caustic, and surprisingly funny pedagogue is holding a singing master class. Alternately dismayed and impressed by the students who parade before her, she retreats into recollections about the glories of her own life and career. Included in her musings are her younger years as an ugly duckling, her fierce hatred of her rivals, the unforgiving press that savaged her early performances, her triumphs at La Scala, and her relationship with Aristotle Onassis. It culminates in a monologue about sacrifice taken in the name of art.

6th January 2021: Home, I'm Darling


Home,  I'm Darling  

By Laura Wade


Home, I’m Darling premiered at Theatr Clwyd in 2018, transferred to the Dorfman Theatre at the National for a sell out run in July of the same year, before transferring to the Duke of York Theatre West End in January 2019.  It won the Olivier for Best New Comedy in 2019.  Having said that, one Australian reviewer was definitely unimpressed (let's just hope she was having a bad day...)


The play tells the story of happily married couple Judy and Johnny, both fans of all things 1950s, attending rock and roll dance festivals with their friends and dressing in the fashions of the era. When Judy gets made redundant from her job in finance, she makes the decision to leave the pressures of modern life behind and become a stay at home housewife transporting herself and her home back to the 1950s. Whilst Johnny is supportive of this decision at the beginning, three years later financial pressure of being the only wage earner begins to have serious consequences on their marriage.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Pandemic Play Readings

We replaced our monthly meeting with a Zoom meeting.  I have now set up some two weekly Zoom play readings, during which we'll start off by working our way through Alan Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests.

I hope that you will enjoy them!

15 April: Table Manners

29 April:  Living Together

13 May:  Round & Round the Garden

27 May: Abigail's Party

10 June:  Deathtrap

24 June:  The Audience

8 July:  Rookery Nook

19 August: Three Short Plays from one-act-plays.com
- Chocolate Affair
- 10,000 Cigarettes
- The Angel Intrudes

2 September: Single Spies

7 October:  Plunder, Ben Travers

11 November: Murder at the Empress (https://proplay.ws/comedies/)

12 December:  A Only Fools and Horses script and a couple of silly short skits!

I'll email details to you as and when!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

1st April: Pack of Lies

Due to the lock down we will have a virtual meeting this month!

If you are seeing this and not a member of the group, please contact me and I will give you further information.

In the meantime, stay well all!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

4th March: Locke

Our play for March is in fact a film, and one you might not have ever heard of.  Although critically acclaimed and having a stellar cast (Tom Hardy in the main role and also featuring Olivia Coleman, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, Ben Daniels, Tom Holland and Bill Milner) it did not become a box office hit.
Fortunately Rina saw it and wants to share it with you!

Locke is a 2013 British–American film.
The evening before he must supervise a large concrete pour in Birmingham (the largest non-nuclear facility, non-military concrete pour in European history), construction foreman Ivan Locke learns receives a telephone call that will change his life.

One thing you need to know, and which is key to the film:  Because concrete cures (which is not the same as drying such as with paint) how it is handled after it is poured is just as important as how it is mixed.  (You thought I was joking about learning a lot about concrete didn't you!)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

5th February: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Once again you have refused to believe how easy the cakes I make for you are!  Well, here's the Mincemeat Cake recipe!  Bon Appetit!

Mincemeat Cake
Serves: 10 - Prep:10min  ›  Cook:2hr  

225g (8 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
140g (5 oz) butter, softened - this is important as you are going to mix by hand
140g (5 oz) dark soft brown sugar 
85g (3 oz) sultanas - or similar
450g (1 lb) mincemeat - with a good glug of brandy, or similar tipple, stirred in
2 eggs, beaten

1.    Preheat oven to 160 C / gas mark 3, grease and line a 20cm (8 in) round tin.
2.    Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
3.    Turn into prepared tin, bake for 1 and 3/4 hours. (Check with skewer/cocktail stick to ensure it comes away clean). Leave in tin for about 15 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

In February, we will be reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,  which, before being turned into a play, was a 1969 British film based on the novel by Muriel Spark, and starred Maggie Smith in the title role.

Jean Brodie is a teacher at Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1930s. Brodie is known for her tendency to stray from the school's curriculum, to romanticize fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco, and to believe herself to be in the prime of life. Brodie devotes her time and energy to her four special 12-year-old junior school girls, called the Brodie Set: Sandy, Monica, Jenny and Mary.


Jean Brodie:  "She thinks she is Providence, thought Sandy, she thinks she is the God of Calvin." In some ways she is: in her prime she draws her chosen few to herself, much as Calvinists understand God to draw the elect to their salvation. With regard to religion, Miss Brodie "was not in any doubt, she let everyone know she was in no doubt, that God was on her side whatever her course, and so she experienced no difficulty or sense of hypocrisy in worship while at the same time she went to bed with the singing master."

Sandy:  Of the set, "Miss Brodie fixed on Sandy," taking her as her special confidante. She is characterised as having "small, almost nonexistent, eyes" and a peering gaze. Miss Brodie repeatedly reminds Sandy that she has insight but no instinct. 

Jenny:  In contrast to Sandy, Jenny is an attractive blonde with (according to Miss Brodie) instinct but no insight. Though somewhat undeservedly, Jenny is "famous for sex", and the art teacher Mr. Lloyd asks her to model for his paintings.

Mary Macgregor:  Dim-witted and slow, Mary is Brodie's scapegoat. Mary meekly bears the blame for everything that goes wrong.

Supporting characters
  • Monica – one of the set; famous for mathematics and her anger
  • Teddy Lloyd – the art master
  • Gordon Lowther – the singing master
  • Miss Mackay – the headmistress

Intertextuality!  Other things to bear in mind - in brief!

La Traviata:  An opera about a courtisan that was considered morally corrupt when it was first produced in the mid 19th Century.

The Lady of Shalott:  A poem about the cursed effect that the glance of Sir Lancelot has on the Lady of Shalott, imprisoned on an island.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Pre-Raphaelite poet and artist, renown for his affairs with various models and the wives of fellow artists.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January: A taste of Honey

Hello Ladies

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020!  I hope you all had a very happy Festive Period and that this year will be good to you.  Personally I'm very happy to see the back of 2019!  THANK YOU for putting up with the cancellations and changes of plan.  

Part of the fall out of 2019 continues, in that I am organising regular trips to the UK to see my Mum, and this will unfortunately affect some of our dates.  I have not filled in the whole year, but here are the dates that I can do in 2020 so far ... unfortunately this does mean that it will not always be the first Wednesday of the month, and may still be subject to change - I hope that you can bear with me:

8th January
5th February
4th March
8th April ** 2nd Weds
6th May *
3rd June *

* Possibly might change

I am sorry about having to cancel December, and I am holding the missed play over until December 2020 as it is an ideal Christmas play.  

Therefore we are starting 2020 off with a play that I have 'oven ready' (groan ... and apologies) although it's not a bright and fun start to the year. However, it should be good.  We have read Shelagh Delaney before, The Memory of Water, which we greatly enjoyed.

A Taste of Honey is Shelagh Delaney's first play, written when she was 19. It was initially intended as a novel, but she turned it into a play because she hoped to revitalise British theatre and to address social issues that she felt were not being presented. 

The play was first produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and was premiered at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, a small fringe theatre in London, on 27 May 1958, and was adapted into a film in 1961 starring Rita Tusshingham and Dora Bryan.

A Taste of Honey is set in Salford in North West England in the 1950s. Jo, a seventeen-year-old working class girl, lives with her mother, Helen, who leaves Jo alone in their new flat after she begins a relationship with Peter, a rich lover who is younger than her. At the same time Jo begins a romantic relationship with Jimmy, a black sailor. 

  • Helen: A hardened, working class single mother and alcoholic.
  • Josephine:  Helen's teenage daughter, known as 'Jo', raised solely by Helen.
  • Peter: Helen's younger, wealthy boyfriend from London.
  • The Boy: Also known as Jimmy, a black sailor. 
  • Geoffrey: An art student in his early twenties who becomes Jo's roommate and friend.