A Bunch of Amateurs – The Reject Theatre Company, Zinc Arts

The plot revolves around wash up Hollywood actor, Jefferson Steel who ends up mistakenly in the wrong Stratford thinking he will be performing the Bard’s work in Stratford St Avon with the RSC, rather than a small Suffolk village with the Stratford Players.

Leading this cast as the ‘has-been’ actor Jefferson is Barry Hester. Barry has fantastic stage presence and gives equal amounts of ego and pomposity. He delivers both excellent comedy timing, as well as great Shakespearean dialogue when required.

The set and use of the stage was great and with some great lighting and sound effects meaning we were transported to the various locations with ease.
The ‘amateur players’ are led by ex-professional actor and the group’s director Dorothy Nettle played by Sally Warrington. Sally was always in control and delivered a strong and constant performance throughout, however, on a few occasions her dialogue was a little too quiet to pick up what was being said.

Stephanie Yorke-Edwards as Mary was just delightful as the star-struck B&B owner and enthusiastic amateur player. She had a strong and convincing Suffolk accent and squeezed every possible nuance out of her slightly crazy character. Kevin Abrey was wonderful as the frightfully ‘over the top’ Nigel Dewbury who was not at all pleased at being usurped from the lead of King Lear by Jefferson. He gave a fabulous performance and was a joy to watch. Kevin Richards as the ravenous Denis, played every comic moment to perfection and had excellent mop action! – especially when real water from the theatrical sprinkler descended onto the stage – very impressive!

When Jefferson’s estranged daughter Jessica turns up, played by Phoebe Walsh full of teenage angst and attitude towards her father, we see a deeper side to many of the characters. Her portrayal was earthy and unpretentious, especially when compared against Karen Kelleher as the glamourous PR officer to the sponsor with her wonderfully nasally voice and stiletto heels who gave us yet another fabulous characterisation.

There were so many lovely touches in this performance and for anyone who has ever taken part in any form of local or amateur theatre I am sure they could recognise some of the scenarios. Huge congratulations to the cast for a great evening’s entertainment which was both humorous and poignant.