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The Play with Speeches at Jack Studio Theatre

The Play with Speeches by James Woolf was first seen at the Hen and Chickens Theatre earlier this year and has now transferred to the Jack Studio Theatre, a welcoming, comfortable, venue two minutes walk from Crofton Park station. It is an unusual piece as it takes place on audition night for Anthony’s new play, one which he has ‘collated’ rather than ‘written’, using speeches from other (imaginary) authors’ plays to create a story. For some reason a paying audience has been invited to the auditions, only one actor has been invited to audition for each role, and Anthony has asked his former partner to direct the play.
The Play with Speeches at Jack Studio Theatre
Anthony (Matthew Parker) is given most to do, and Parker is excellent in making him an obnoxious bore with “delusions of grandeur” as the script says. In fact, the audience very quickly found this character tiresome and the stifled groans every time he started to speak were evident! If only he would just “shut up”! Parker uses his eyes to great effect and is very believable in this awful role – we all know people like Anthony!

Penny (Gillian King), his former partner is not as strongly written, and is a much more sympathetic character – why on earth she ever agreed to direct a play by Anthony, let alone have a relationship with him, is impossible to understand!

Peter J-Jones is Nick, the put-upon person in charge of getting through these auditions as quickly as possible. You will have to be quick to catch his portrayal though, as he is only in the show until 15 October – as are many of the rest of the cast!

The auditionees are all excellent, mostly young actors at the start of their careers, but are hampered by the fact that they are underused: mostly just one 3-minute speech each! David Whitney uses a very believable south Wales accent in Ralph’s speech, Elliot Goodhill is amusing as Dinesh, Anna Blackburn a competent Elaine, Magnus Gordon talking as quickly as humanly possible auditioning for the Doctor, Isabelle Lee, being greedy and auditioning for two roles, Joseph Aylward as an ineffectual Police Officer, Ursula Campbell as Belinda, Molly Wheaton as an attractive Ariel, Harrison Trott the epitome of a stereotyped hospital cleaner, Julie Foy as Martha and Carmen Rodriguez as a barrister, clearly no longer on strike.

Rather dim lighting is by Han Sayles and Katherine Reilly is credited as the director of this unusual piece of theatre.

3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

Penny and Anthony were once an item, but things went pear-shaped a year ago and they separated. Now Penny has been chosen to direct Anthony’s play and there’s a theatre full of actors waiting to audition. Tonight. As in, right now.

Penny is ill-prepared, Anthony is wounded and the actors arrive with enough emotional baggage to fill the dressing room. What could possibly go wrong?

The Play with Speeches
produced by Olive and Stavros

Creative Team:
Written by James Woolf
Directed by Katherine Reilly
Lighting technician Han Sayles
Production Support Tomas Leslie

Chris Agha, Joseph Aylward, Anna Blackburn, Ursula Campbell, Julie Foy, Elliot Goodhill, Magnus Gordon, Tom Hodgson, Lewis Jenkins, Peter J-Jones, Gillian King, Izabelle Lee, Ingrid Marsh, Matthew Parker, Carmen Rodriguez, Harrison Trott, Molly Wheaton, David Whitney, Darcy Willison

Tuesday 11 – Saturday 22 October 2022


  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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