Uncle Mick

by H Connolly

Wallingford Drama Festival – Thursday 14th June
Oxfordshire Drama Network Festival – Tuesday 19th June

A few days after his Mother’s funeral, Mick reluctantly agrees to look after his 15 year old niece for a week while her Mum goes on holiday.

The Cast

Mandy: Tracey Pearce
Mick: Pete Watt
Jo: Naomi Read
Mum: Helen Saxton
Sam: Phil Prior
Sam: H Connolly (on 23rd June)

Produced by H Connolly
Stage Manager: Nick Roberts
Lights/Sound: Paul Shave
Prompt: Brenda Prior

 Wallingford Drama Festival

And the winner is…

We’re pleased to announce that we won both the Best Overall Performance and The Punter’s Prize at this year’s festival. Pete Watt was also nominated for Best Actor, and we were nominated for the Susan North Memorial Trophy (for a Special Moment).

Below is an edited transcript of the adjudicator’s comments:

Setting

Very clever bookshelf and good music. Interesting light changes when Sam and Mum came on-  that all happened very well. Very clever car when Mandy made her devious exit worked extremely well!

Mandy in your very attractive top, you looked great. Sam in his very comfortable gear and slippers. Jo in lovely green sparkly top and matching sneakers when we first see her.

As the time lapses were created in the play and they went on to do all of these wonderful things in that week there was the odd change or take off of jumper or add another top, which created the time for us, and them Mum and Sam – time passes for them, so the make up when they came on as the old pair was all very believable and made it very convincing for us.

Acting

Mandy – very sexual, and she’s got a toy boy so shy shouldn’t she be?! There are various characteristics to this character as the play went on we could see deep down her love for Mick. It was such a clever move when she swaps places with her daughter Jo, I thought that worked extremely well.

It was lovely as Mick and Mandy were on the stage more and more the relationship became more relaxed and they were very happy with each other, and there was the odd bit of touching and the odd gesture that showed that you were comfortable in the room and comfortable with each other. It was a very truthful performance Tracey, and we sympathised with you, we really did, so well done.

Sam- well what can I say about you, you great bully?! My goodness me, a wife beater, that’s all he was! There was strong language and you spoke it as though you meant it, a very convincing actor Phil, I thought you played with passion and a lot of authority and I was waiting to see the physicality of what you would actually do when she jumped on your back and it all worked very well indeed.

Lovely work from you as Mum, very focused and an intense performance, and indeed you did have our sympathy.

Jo – a girl of today – great entrance that was great, body language and gestures so descriptive and you could see it was all there when we first met you so it was lovely to see how she grew and responded to Mick.   Good acting I felt here, showing reflections of the education that you’ve had and of course your family ties. Feelings for your grandmother were beautifully shared, bery believable and characterisation is putting together physical and mental qualities and you played with these with a great deal of emotional truth, a lovely performance I felt.

Mick – consistently demanding emotional and mental action for this character – you got it and you used it right from when you started using  your pauses. You had a relaxed manner on stage which was great. You had that wonderful turning point when Mick tells Jo that it was the best week he ever had, then he has that form to fill in for his teacher training.
A very heartfelt performance I thought, because you had the battering from your sister, then we had the glimpse of his wonderful mum and his rotten dad and the relationships with Jo. It was a very warm hearted and consistently convincing performance

Direction

One scene I felt melted into another through creative writing and thinking and awareness and the ensemble playing of the whole cast. Also of course the technical involvement which was very effective.

We were asked to accept the appearance of Sam and Mum, but in a very subtle way, very subtle good understanding of theatrical dynamics and pictures, created for us (remember poor old Mick with Mum on one side and Dad on the other, poor kid, they were tearing him apart) so that worked extremely well.

There were plenty of one liners in the text but the cast were very aware and they listened and responded with great spontaneity.

I would say it was a seamless production which was achieved tonight, through deliberate efforts of director cast and crew.

Oxfordshire Drama Network Festival

After a successful and well received performance on Tuesday, we were called back to perform at the Gala Evening on 23rd June, to be performed in front of local dignitaries and patron, Colin Dexter. Due to a prior commitment (no pun intended!) Phil Prior’s part was taken at short notice by H Connolly.

Our hard work paid off when we were awarded the Punters’ Prize (jointly with Kennington ADS).

Below is a transcript of the adjudicator Cherry Stephenson’s comments:

That was a really strong piece of theatre wasn’t it? I could tell how hard you had all worked with your director on this and there was a lot of time and thought gone in to this production.

A new play – certainly got all sorts of very good rhythms to it – it’s got everything hasn’t it? It’s got humour, it’s poignant and it’s fast moving and it’s very engaging. And of course I was looking for all those things and they were all brought out in the play.

I love the chairs! Tablecloth was just right. Very grand bookcase – was it too grand? But I saw the point, as this is a family where there has been education so it makes the point.

I felt that one of the problems was going to bother me was the fact that the play sometimes moves between the present time and this return of the parents which could be really tricky so I was looking to see how the director and the actors and the other people involved in design were going to do that. I also wondered were the sound effects going to work, and knew it required versatile actors because there is a violent scene in it and there is a lot of mood changing. It can be very static when you have two people on the stage together, you can get very bored seeing them profile to profile which you often see, and I thought is that going to be dealt with?

And there is a lot of background to get across because you are giving a lot of detail out, information and so I was a bit bothered, would that work?  I wanted to know if this would work as a play altogether, and I’ve already given it away really haven’t I?!

The setting was excellent, I thought the costume was very carefully thought through (note coordinated top and shoes – Mandy) did you notice when Mick and Jo are more in harmony together their colours harmonise?

Did you notice how the middle aged parents and the young parents are all grey? Lovely!

I thought this was a very carefully thought through production, everything was looked at in minute detail. Costume and props worked very well, thought out in great detail.

This was in the hands of a very confident and competent director. You certainly know what you are doing. Variety of moves – keeps you interested and matches the bubbly dialogue – very good, we saw you from all angles and coming and going in all sorts of different ways. The humour was beautifully pointed – that’s a united thing between director and actor. I heard every humorous line.

Mood swings were very effective, because if they hadn’t worked it would have been awful! Theatre is so close to working and not working all the time and I really felt you did make it work.

I thought that the violence showed, but perhaps would have been more tempered the first time, so the second time was really ‘going for the guts’.

A bit of DH Lawrence, the poor husband locked up because of his lack of education or ability to speak and the mother and son very articulate and the very capable daughter, and he is the odd one out. That was nice. The director and the actors also brought out the difference through accent.

Lot of good background done with the director, and research from the actors.

Mick – very good projection, even when he dropped his voice low down we heard the words, that was very good. I did think there were some delightful scenes between you and Jo, I thought it really came alive and you two worked beautifully together as a team and they listened to each other and responded.

Mandy – a lot of rapport – came in a bright beam of sunshine, confident authoritative, filled the stage and we very quickly knew who she was. I thought your loud top very much told your personality. You are who you say you are. This figure is very self-centred. Taxi going off was believable – if characters are believable we get drawn in and want to see what happens, so I thought that was very well played and you two did a very good job as a duo (Mandy and Mick; and all the ‘pairs’ did actually.

You were tender later on – that came through it had a realism to it that worked very well. Everyone was very articulate their voices carried well, your posture. Clothes were absolutely brilliant.

Jo was spot on, very varied had to go through a whole range of emotions (in fact everyone did one way or another) you had to be animated, fed up, difficult teenager and you captured all of those so I thought you were in fact the versatile teen that the author wanted.

Sam was a solid presence, a brooding presence in a way. You didn’t have much time to show that you were brooding but I thought that your ageing worked but you did look older. It is such a difficult thing to do and I accepted it, it worked very well.

In total I thought that the play worked very successfully, it had a great flow, strong direction, everyone was clear what their role was, what they were doing.

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