Edward Alderton Theatre

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The Scottish Play
by Graham Holliday

Directed by Ross Holland

17-24 March 1990 (7 performances)

Michael, one of the better actors of The Shellfoot Thespians, has always had a dream of staging Macbeth. Having found an empty slot, he starts auditioning for Shakespeare's most cursed play...

Michael Mike Higginson
Sally Carol La Roche
Fiona Alison Armitt
Mary Kim Reece-Jones
Geraldine Maureen Hardwen
Frank Paul Lay
Eric Andy Hawkes
Alan Peter Gray
Barnaby Chris La Roche
Lynne Jean Sharp
Jackie Rosemarie Ryan
Les Dye David Hampton
Daisy Janet Hampton

Stage Manager Nicole Antras 
Assistant Stage Manager Vicky Findlay
Set Design Ross Holland
Set Construction Mark Charlwood, Chris La Roche, Ross Holland, Alison Armitt, Sally Glover, Nicole Antras
Costumes Jean Sharp, Maureen Hardwen
Properties Janet Hampton
Lighting  Tim Hewitt
Sound Alan Webster

Thanks are due to Fishers of Dartford for furniture.


Hubble Trouble

A theatre's attempt to stage a play about Shakespeare's Macbeth has been dogged by a catalogue of disasters. The Edward Alderton Theatre is currently showing The Scottish Play about one man's passion for Macbeth. But among actors, the Shakespearean tragedy is said to he plagued by a spell which brings bad luck. And the 11th commandment among actors is never to mention its name.

But the cast at the Edward Alderton theatre, Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, dismissed it as superstitious 'hocus-pocus'...and their six-week rehearsal schedule was hit by non-stop bad luck. Director Ross Holland said, "I thought it was all hocus-pocus, but not now."

The curse struck when:

  • HUBBLE...actor Dave Hampton fell, broke his ankle and appeared on stage with crutches
  • BUBBLE...leading man Mike Higginson fell ill with gastroenteritis
  • TOIL...stage manager Nicole Antras escaped unhurt when her car steering failed
  • TROUBLE...actress Carol La Roche fell through a stage platform
  • FIRE...Paul Lay - Macbeth - twisted his ankle
  • CAULDRON... actor Peter Gray missed Monday night's performance due to a stomach ulcer

Ross, who stood in for Peter, said: "I didn't believe in all this superstition so we didn't avoid the word Macbeth during our rehearsals. But I'll know better next time. A few days before we began rehearsals, I was in the bar at the theatre when someone said the word. Seconds later a cable snapped behind the stage. I should have realised then!"

London National Theatre experts confirmed the legend of the curse. "If you mention the 'M' word, you should leave the room, turn round three times then spit and knock for re-entry," they explained. "That way the curse is dispelled - mind you it would leave rehearsal rooms pretty empty if you were trying to stage the play without saying the name!" A member of the Guild of Little Theatres said: "The tradition stems from the 18th century when Macbeth would pack theatres. A theatre company doing badly financially might put on the play to save themselves. By implication therefore the mere mention of the name means you're down on your luck."

Carol Staples

Bexleyheath and Welling Mercury | 2 March 1990


Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Macbeth is generally considered an unlucky play to perform and all sorts of actors' superstitions relate to it. The Scottish Play at the Edward Alderton Theatre deals with one man's obsession with producing and directing an amateur production of Macbeth and the disasters, often hilarious, that result.

Michael, the would-be director, is played by the talented Mike Higginson and begins as an ordinary estate agent, if there is such a thing. Gradually, however, he is taken over, becoming a tyrant over his cast, unable to see his wife for the trees of Burnham Wood and more keen to build Macbeth's Dunsinane Castle than to sell semi-detached houses. Inevitably he loses his job, his wife and all his money but the show goes on.

The ragbag of actors Michael gathers round him for his disaster will be familiar to anyone who has tackled amateur dramatics. Barnaby, the nervous mummy's boy who longs to act almost as much as he is unable to, and Geraldine, the stalwart of twenty years, with the controlling committee and the local vicar in her pocket who can destroy any play she doesn't star in, are both horrifyingly real. Real too are the stage romances between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, played by Mike's best friend and Wife respectively. The temper tantrums, sudden walk-outs and awful walk-ons - all of acting life is here. The play, in a series of comic scenes tinged with dark moments, asks whether it was all worth it. Michael asks, when the curtain is finally to rise, how many of the packed house will appreciate the play and Alan, the laconic stagehand answers, "At a guess, none of them."

Not true the night I went!

Derek Staples

Bexleyheath and Welling Mercury | 2 March 1990

Curse proves too much for Scottish play

The curse of the Scottish Play made its traditional ruthless visitation, this time to the Edward Alderton Theatre for its current production. Written by Graham Holliday, it follows the efforts of an amateur dramatic group, the Shellfoot Thespians, to stage a production of Macbeth and is called (of course) The Scottish Play.

For the Thespians the curse of Macbeth strikes hard enough, but it struck the Edward Alderton too when David Hampton, one of the leading players, had a severe fall and was on crutches (which he used as effective props) for the performance. Director Ross Holland made intelligent use of lighting and contrasted acting areas in this first stage performance of a play written for radio. This original format, with its frequent short scenes in various locations and many telephone conversations, could not be entirely transcended.

One of the Thespians' leading players, an inefficient estate agent named Mike, attempts to break out of the Rookery Nook rut and produce a masterpiece of world drama. But his obsession with Macbeth is not entirely appreciated by his colleagues, who include his best friend Frank, a natural for Macbeth, his wife Lyn (Lady Macbeth) and the grand dame of the company, Geraldine, who, having been denied the Lady Macbeth role, tries to sabotage the enterprise.

The problem with this play is that the theme of Macbeth is never adequately mirrored in the Thespians' efforts to produce it. Despite his appalling difficulties, Mike's authority as director is never challenged and in a Shakespearean tragedy which does not feature adultery, the affair between Frank and Lyn, while adding some piquancy to the story, does not fit in with the situation. We are left merely with sympathy for Mike. There were some good comic moments in this efficient production but only a few of the 13-strong cast (another reason for the curse's visitation?) had opportunities to develop their characters. The Scottish Play continues at the Edward Alderton Theatre, Bexleyheath, until this Saturday.

George Baylis

Kentish Times | 22 March 1990




Ross Holland spitting


L-R: Paul Lay, Maureen Hardwen, Mike Higginson