Raising money for charity through theatre

Past Productions

Year Show
2017 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2016 Amadeus
2015 Henry IV Part 1
2014 The Merchant of Venice
2013 As You Like It
2012 Twelfth Night
2011 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2010 Much Ado About Nothing
2009 Much Ado About Nothing

Reviews and More Information

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2017

THE marketing tag “Have you seen my Bottom?” set the fun-filled tone of the Garden Players’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

All that familiar confusion of who loves whom and of Puck dropping love-juice on the wrong eyelids took a refreshingly entertaining turn with this production — and the audience loved it.

Staged in the tranquil gardens of Stubbings House near Maidenhead, this was a superb production.

Director John Timewell extracted every ounce of fun and double entendre from this well-known and much produced Shakespearean script.

Much of the humour lay in the body language of the cast and involved the audience to the full, as a production in Shakespeare’s time would have done.

Particular mentions must go to Gráinne Harling for her queenly yet lusty portrayal of Titania. We truly believed her to be besotted by Bottom in his ass’s head, so convincing was her ear-stroking seduction technique. And to Ryan Witney for his performance as Bottom, ably supported by the rest of his fellow players as they rehearse their play for the Duke’s nuptials.

The scene with tall Wall and short Bottom trying to peek through Wall to communicate with his hysterically funny lover, Thisbe (Graham Weeks), was particularly entertaining — again, largely due to the direction and actions of the cast.

This cast with their able director certainly maximised the script’s fun factor in every way possible — body language, timing, and communication with the audience.

Katie Welland as Helena came into her own as the complications of the play progressed. At first she is somewhat overshadowed by the doubly-loved Hermia but, as the plot thickens, Helena shines through and it is she who sets the pace — especially in the catfight between the two young women as the two lovers, Lysander (Harry Petrie) and Demetrius (Alfie Hurst) do their best to keep the sparring girls apart in yet another show of excellent direction and acting.

This was my first encounter with the Garden Players and if this is the standard of their productions I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Nor am I alone. As we left the gardens of Stubbings, several others in the audience were already planning to book for next year’s picnic production.

It was particularly pleasing to see so many young people — roughly 11-plus to young teens — in the audience.

They all seemed to laugh in the right places, so this highly accessible and enjoyable production of may well have sprinkled some of Shakespeare’s fairy dust on their young eyelids, too.

– Bridget Fraser, The Henley Standard

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Amadeus, 2016

A joint production with Fourways Drama Group and The Garden Players at Lancaster Arts Centre

The simple set was cleverly devised and I loved the chandeliers which depicted the era perfectly. The use of projected pictures is a device which expresses changes of scene with the minimum of fuss. Using the cast to change chair tables and the like does not detract from the action and Jim Peach and Godfrey Smith on Props are to be commended. I especially liked the cakes and almost came onto the stage to sample one! Stage Manager Jane Clark also ensured that all the changes ran smoothly.

Just a few minor comments. In the first half the musical excerpts were too abruptly switched off and a slight fade would only have taken seconds, however this was rectified in the second half and the use of Mozart’s amazing music soared through the auditorium, Steve Curtis is to be complimented on his expertise. Gill Bates and Jim Peach did an excellent job on lighting and projection which was smooth and efficient.

Steve McAdam stepping in at the last minute to play Salieri was superb, it is not an easy task to change from Director to actor but he was amazing and one would not have known he had not rehearsed the part from the beginning (although I always enjoy seeing Jeff Baynham in action).

Joshua Ford took on quite a task in his challenging role and although I felt from my research that writer David Cairns argued against Shaffer’s depiction of ‘Mozart’s two contradictory beings, sublime artist and fool’ it was not evident in this production of Mozart’s rather childish actions and his depiction of Mozart as an idiot rather than a silly youngster who had not yet grown up rather dominated his performance. However Joshua he was a fine actor and his demeanour is rather down to the way he was directed.

Emma Graveling made a delightful Constanze she was sweet and charming although some of the dialogue was not of the era but that is down to the playwright.

Debbie Keenan and Graham Weeks were both excellent in their roles and I especially liked Graham’s interpretation.

Rhydian always gives a fine performance and David Wright, Jim Cornwell, Adam Besley and Richard Higham all offered the gravitas required for their roles although I felt at times they were almost too indulgent of Mozart’s behaviour and only showed their disapproval on occasion.

Pippa Dadd made a very glamorous Katherina Cavalieri and the other members of the cast complimented the performance.

Costumes were lovely, some of the wigs looked good but some looked rather sad, I am not sure whether they belong to the group or are hired in.

This is not a play I particularly like and would not have chosen under normal circumstances but I can appreciate how well it was done and this is the second time I have seen it performed by amateurs (who incidentally are more professional than some of the so called professional plays I have seen) Both were very different but both were interesting in their interpretations.

— Rita Carpenter

Your production was very impressive, with excellent costumes, wigs, make-up, lighting and sound. I attend a lot of theatre, including many amateur shows, and I must say the quality of your primary actors was outstanding.

It must have been very difficult for everyone to adjust to working without Jeff Baynham at such short notice, and you all did an incredible job. The show was seamless, and no one could have known that you had just stepped into the role.

This must have been particularly difficult for Joshua Ford who played so many of his scenes directly opposite you, but he was quite incredible. What a very talented young man, one certainly to watch out for in the future.

I also particularly liked Emma Graveling in the role of Constanze Mozart, and Pippa Dadd who played Katherina Cavalieri.

It’s a shame we don’t publish reviews, but as I write so far ahead of publication it would be a long time before it appeared in print, and we feel previews are much more important because they actually help you to sell your tickets.

The charity you were supporting, the Child Bereavement Trust, is one particularly close to my heart, and it was good to see it so well represented.

If I may add a personal observation, with amateur theatre productions always take place in a wide variety of places including many church or village halls with hard chairs, which can affect one’s enjoyment of the performance, and I have endured many uncomfortable evenings. I had hoped that the Lancaster Arts Centre would provide a more comfortable experience, but I am sorry to say that although the building is most impressive to look at, the seating has not been well designed or thought out. The seats are very hard, very narrow and with little to no room for legs. This is merely an observation, and I know how difficult it can be for amateur productions to find premises, but I would not be keen to return to this centre.

Your production was very impressive, with excellent costumes, wigs, make-up, lighting and sound. I attend a lot of theatre, including many amateur shows, and I must say the quality of your primary actors was outstanding.

It must have been very difficult for everyone to adjust to working without Jeff Baynham at such short notice, and you all did an incredible job. The show was seamless, and no one could have known that you had just stepped into the role.

This must have been particularly difficult for Joshua Ford who played so many of his scenes directly opposite you, but he was quite incredible. What a very talented young man, one certainly to watch out for in the future.

I also particularly liked Emma Graveling in the role of Constanze Mozart, and Pippa Dadd who played Katherina Cavalieri.

The charity you were supporting, the Child Bereavement Trust, is one particularly close to my heart, and it was good to see it so well represented.

If I may add a personal observation, with amateur theatre productions always take place in a wide variety of places including many church or village halls with hard chairs, which can affect one’s enjoyment of the performance, and I have endured many uncomfortable evenings. I had hoped that the Lancaster Arts Centre would provide a more comfortable experience, but I am sorry to say that although the building is most impressive to look at, the seating has not been well designed or thought out. The seats are very hard, very narrow and with little to no room for legs. This is merely an observation, and I know how difficult it can be for amateur productions to find premises, but I would not be keen to return to this centre.

— Heather Jan Brunt, Bucks Herald

We enjoyed the play last night and so did Sylvia Wimpenny who came with us. Well done for your excellent direction and special congratulations for reading the part of Salieri. It worked well despite having the book in your hand – in fact it seemed appropriate to have the book while you were telling the story.
It was a good cast who served you very well but special mentions should go to ‘Mozart’ , those controlling the lights and sound and to the costume department.
Many thanks to all.

— Tony & Ann Fox

Well done! The whole thing was absolutely wonderful and you did a really good job.
I’m glad I came! Congratulations

— Lynne Gailey

You should be immensely proud of a fantastic personal performance in what must have felt like a near disaster. The whole cast were wonderful and contributed to a most enjoyable show. I felt that you reading did not affect the enjoyment as it looked like you were reading your own recordings of the historic events leading up to the play.
I really hope that the rest of the week goes well

— Colin Moir

That was a great rescue act you performed last night. We thoroughly enjoyed the play.
It’s inspired us to renew our acquaintance with the film.

— Peter & Alison Bromley

Great show last night. You were fantastic. It must have been one helluva day. The whole audience loved it and we certainly did. All the best with the next three shows.

— Tony Woolcott

We want to congratulate you on your heroic performance last night!
We thoroughly enjoyed the production and your major narrative part, as delivered,
was suberb. We hope you are recovering from the shock of having to step in at
such short notice, but it did not detract from the overall effect.

— Dick & Mary Van Wely

Desiree and I enjoyed very much last evening’s performance and congratulate you in the circumstances not only for your direction but also for your participation as Salieri.
We appreciate that the circumstances were particularly trying for you but you carried it off most professionally!

— David Jackson

Congratulations on a masterful performance this evening, the whole production was excellent, but standing in at the 11th hour was a tour de force, well done.
We are away until Monday and I believe you are off to Portugal on Tuesday. Have a well earned rest.

— Judy Lucas

Dear Debs and Graham,
Absolutely well done. You were both brilliant and as for your Director having to take Salieri on at the last moment well I am amazed that he did so well.

— David & Rosemary Burfitt

June and I were at Amadeus last night and just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed it. The main point of the mail is to say that we thought you did a remarkable job in the most difficult circumstances, having to take over the lead when the other guy pulled out.
I was trying to get my head round what I would have done in the same circumstances. Anyway, you should be extremely proud of yourself, not just for carrying on but for doing such a great job.

— Paul & June Baldock

Well, well, done. Given the circumstances I thought you did a wonderful job of standing in for the Lead Role, especially as it must have had 50 percent of the lines.

In fact, the nature of the part lended itself to you actually reading, so it didn’t really detract from the story. Concerning the Play in general, I think it was far more enjoyable than Shakespeare, an interesting period and a good story. You were actually very well suited to the part.

— Keith Bradford

Thank you for the show last night, it was fab! It must have been such a blow to lose Salieri, but you all did a great job, and hats off to the Director for stepping in – not easy! Mozart was sublime.
Really enjoyable

— David Alderton

Well done yesterday evening, Steve. Particularly well done for taking on the taxing role of Salieri at the last moment. I felt that you covered extremely well that you were having to read the whole part. I was also particularly impressed with your Mozart.
It was a most enjoyable evening. Congratulations!

— John Timewell

Just to say how much I enjoyed Amadeus yesterday evening!

Steve, you did an admirable job of stepping into the role of Salieri at short notice.

Always a super story in any format, but this one was very enjoyable.

Hope you raised good money for this very worthy cause.

— Antonia Mortlock

Many congratulations on a stunning performance last night. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You have my profound admiration for stepping in at the last minute and doing such a splendid job.

— Archie Wilson

Rose and I enjoyed another excellent performance of Amadeus. Well done to you all especially you having to read the script throughout. It didn’t spoil the performance …well done you.

— Janette Crouch

Brilliant performance tonight Steve under very difficult circumstances. Very well done, what a trouper you are.

— Jill and Chris Simpson

Hi Steve. Just a short note to say that we very much enjoyed Amadeus yesterday. You did so well standing in as Salieri – what a nightmare for you all to have to deal with! Anyway, it didn’t detract from our evening.

— Nige and Karen Young

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Henry IV Part 1, 2015

Fantastic Falstaff lights up summer Shakespeare ——– The location is stunning and I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity to enjoy an evening at Stubbings if they can.

— Henley Standard

Just to say thanks so much for a great evening last night! The cast were all excellent. I have never seen this play before and thought it was very very well done! The setting is of course lovely as well!
Our friends really enjoyed it to and asked me to let you know what a fabulous evening they had.
Break a leg for the rest of the week and please congratulate the whole cast and crew – costumes too and horses of course!

— Claire & Paul Mitterhuber

I thought it was wonderful and all the principals were outstanding. It was also a very high quality production and I thought Stubbings was a delightful venue.

— Mrs L. Gailey

Really enjoyed the setting and the acting last evening.

— Sue Lynch

Congratulations to all on a splendid production last night – I particularly enjoyed the second half as the lighting took effect – very atmospheric.

— Patrick Gazard

Fantastic night, thoroughly enjoyed it, well done all who took part and made it such an entertaining evening

— Jenny Breedon

Just to say we really enjoyed the play, what a lovely setting.

— Liz Dale

Well done. I know how much hard work & organisation goes into producing a production. I thought there were some v v good performances. I loved the horses& I thought the money on costumes was well spent, you all looked really good.

— Carolyn Kendall

We all enjoyed your high quality performance and are looking forward to MSMD next year.

— Colin Moir

Thank you for inviting us to join you. It was once again an amazing performance and a lovely evening.

— Lisa Hunter

We all had a fabulous evening at Stubbing with the Garden Players. All my party agreed another fabulous performance. Please convey our congratulations to the performers…excellent.

— Janette Crouch

We all really enjoyed the production – well done. Altogether a great evening.

— David Heeley

Henry IV was excellent.

— Tony Woolcott


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The Merchant of Venice, 2014

“William Shakespeare’s tale of justice and retribution was brought to life outdoors in the grounds of the Grade II Listed manor house near Maidenhead, on a warm summer’s evening that had an apt Mediterranean feel to it.
It’s clear there are a number of talented actors among the Garden Players and seeking out one of their shows will provide a fine way to spend an evening.”

— Andy Carswell, Bucks Free Press

“David Bukht put in a powerful performance as Shylock, complemented by an energised ensemble, giving an appreciative audience and myself, the result we wanted.”

— Terry Adlam, Maidenhead Advertiser

“It was very, very good and even better than Much Ado About Nothing in Bath in 2010. I really liked the modern setting set in the fascist period in Italy. Very well done!”

— Colin Clarkson Short, Bath – Deloitte (Sponsor of The Garden Players)

“It was a beautiful and very well put on production with an excellent courtroom scene. Portia was particularly good as was the Prince of Aragon. The setting and weather were lovely and a full house – you must be delighted!”

— Keith Bradford, Penn

“Well done, I enjoyed the play very much. It was a great cast.”

— Chris Wells, Maidenhead

“Just wanted to say what a fabulous production The Merchant of Venice was which we saw on Saturday. Everyone helped to make it a very memorable production.”

— Jackie Thornton, Maidenhead

“The opening performance I attended was wonderful and the atmosphere was so relaxed which made for a really enjoyable evening for everyone that attended.”

— Emma Riley, High Wycombe

“Stubbings is a beautiful venue and when the sun was out, it set a perfect atmosphere for this year’s performance.”

— Ann Chalmers CEO, Child Bereavement UK

“Fantastic – very well done. The set up with the stage and the seating worked very well – it was just like being in a theatre on a lovely summer’s evening.”

— Tony Woolcott, Penn

“I really enjoyed it – there were some great performances and I loved the gardens.”

— Carolyn Kendall, Chairman Fourways Theatre Group

“The overall standard was commendably high, and the audience enjoyment great. The music was wholly in period and excellently performed. In all, a splendid production which we thoroughly enjoyed and Stubbings is a most delightful setting.”

— Norman & Jennie Cooper, The Wirral

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As You Like It, 2013

“A great performance which we all enjoyed. Thank you very much.”

— George Cross, London, Chairman, Stanton Chase

“Thanks for a really superb evening of enjoyment of the play and conviviality at Stubbings House. We all found the friendly atmosphere of everyone involved to be exceptional. The performance was superb in all aspects in a fantastic setting. It was also very beneficial to have raised funds for SportsAble, Child Bereavement and Rotary charities.”

— Mike Phillips, Rotary Club of Reading Maiden Erlegh

“Renate and I just wanted to say a big thank you for inviting us to the play last night, it was for both of us a unique experience (both our school day Shakespeare memories are somewhat faded) and we really enjoyed a wonderful evening in such pleasant surroundings with great weather for a change. Amazing acting talent on display —- the performers were exceptional.”

— Rod & Renate Clare, Virginia Water

“We were really transfixed – I had forgotten how many of the lines I was able to recognise – what a talented cast !”

— Neil & Lisa Mathews, Maidenhead

“Thank you on behalf of myself and my friends, for a fabulous Shakespeare performance last night. The weather was perfect and the sun even shone while we were eating our picnic. It really was a lovely evening out.”

— Shirley Steele, Beaconsfield

“We had a fantastic time and the play was wonderful. The venue was a natural stage for the play – it was lovely.”

— Steph Sears, High Wycombe

“We really enjoyed it last week and didn’t you have good weather. The production was great fun, we all had a fantastic evening.”

— Carolyn Kendall, Chairman Fourways Theatre Group, High Wycombe

“I Thought the play was excellent last night.”

— Keith Bradford, Penn

“The natural lighting provided by the setting sun provided a magical backdrop to the enchanting forest scenes, and you are swept up in the romance of the story.”

— Gemma Davidson, Beaconsfield

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Twelfth Night, 2012

Our sold-out production of Twelfth Night directed by Archie Wilson has raised £8,340 for The Child Bereavement Charity. This brings our total raised for charity since 2008 to over £36,000.
If you would like to order a DVD of Twelfth Night, filmed on the Friday performance, please contact our film man, Bob Simpson, directly on 01628 692 226 or email him: bobsimpsonmaidenhead@btinternet.com

Critical acclaim for The Garden Players’ Twelfth Night

“THE Garden Players reignited my love for William Shakespeare”

“It was a real pleasure to see one of Shakespeare’s best plays performed by such a competent cast.”
“All the cast were excellent” “Gerard Nolan as the slightly effeminate Sir Andrew Aguecheek was extremely funny…Sir Toby played by Rob Aldington was also line perfect and together they made a brilliant duo, add to this the talented Jan Edwards as Maria and you have the perfect mix”
“Graham Weeks was superb as the pompous Malvolio”
“An excellent production in every sense – the play made me want to rush home and read more of Shakespeare’s plays as the cast made his work so accessible”

“STARTING in 2008 the Garden Players’ productions have become a much anticipated annual event in the area, so it was with great excitement that I looked forward to their latest performance”
“While the setting was stunning, and a star in itself, the cast really shone.”
“Comedic jewels were Gerard Nolan’s Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the overly effeminate knight, and Graham Weeks as the pompous Malvolio.”
“Brimming with jokes, songs and twists, this tale of mistaken identity was deftly delivered by the amateur group. Bring on next year.”

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A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, 2011

The Garden Players completed their successful run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Lou Millward at Storrington Garden, Beaconsfield in June 2011 raising more than £9,000 for The Child Bereavement Charity.

Audience praise for The Garden Players’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“We thoroughly enjoyed A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Saturday. There were some very fine actors and we would ask you to pass on our appreciation of the performance to all. The garden setting with the backdrop of the lit woods was truly magical and made a fine performance into something that was quite memorable.”

— Penny & Michael Eaton, Beaconsfield

“The best production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream I have ever seen. There was not a weak link in the cast.”

— Mo Kyte, Beaconsfield

“I’ve been meaning all week to tell you how very much we enjoyed the play. It was so well directed and all the actors very professional. Everyone in the Saturday night audience enjoyed it enormously. We were lucky to have a lovely warm evening.
Fantastic! We’ll come again next year!

— Rosemary Piggot, Marlow

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MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, 2009 AND 2010

“I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing. The performance was every bit as good as the performance of Romeo and Juliet I saw the previous week at Hall Barn, but I could hear the words much better and the whole performance was more fun, especially the comedy scenes in which Beatrice and Benedict were eavesdropping. I thought these were most imaginatively directed. Congratulations on such a successful production!”

— Arnold Page, High Wycombe

“I would like to congratulate you on a splendid performance of Much Ado about Nothing on Thursday. The acting and production were both of very high standard. The setting in your garden was delightful.”

— Joe Taylor, Totteridge, London

“It was very enjoyable and the quality of production and acting were very good. Setting it in a garden was also an inspirational idea because it created an intimacy that you rarely get in a theatre and never get outdoors. Simply brilliant and hats off to you for a great performance!”

— Mike Power, Ascot

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