The Regina Monologues
and The Dock Brief,
The Warninglid Players,
Seaforth Hall, Warninglid, Friday, May 10
The Warninglid Players celebrated their 30th anniversary with an intelligent double-bill of one-act plays.
The first play, The Regina Monologues by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer, offered a moving comedy about the six wives of Henry VIII.
However, instead of playing like a standard historical drama, the production brought the story and characters into the modern world – a risky move that really paid off.
Throughout the play, the audience learned about Henry’s marriages from the perspective of his six wives, portrayed as a diverse selection of 21st century women.
Annie (Anne Boleyn played by Lauren Simpson) was portrayed as a devious seductress who steals Henry away from the neurotic Cathy (Katherine of Aragon, played by Lorraine Jordan) who she considers to be old and pathetic.
It would have been easy to dislike Annie but Lauren Simpson’s performance allowed the audience to sympathise with her as she gradually lost control of her emotions, her husband and her life.
Alex Mowforth played Jane (Seymour), and brought to life an idealistic young woman whose physical and mental health deteriorated tragically.
Melissa Graham played Anna (Anne of Cleves) and created a sparky version of Henry’s fourth wife who got in contact with him via a dating website.
Juliet Garland was also strong as Henry’s final wife Katherine (Parr), playing the character as a sly and self-assured gold digger.
She got a chuckle from the audience for her sheer audacity as she raised a wine glass after winning everything.
However, Rebecca Bond gave the most striking performance as Katie (Katherine Howard) – an initially cocky girl whose naive dreams of bling and status were crushed by the reality of her overweight husband. Her descriptions of abuse by Henry were painful to hear and hammered home the fact that the real Katherine’s life was cut short when she was still a teenager.
After this cerebral offering, it was a wise move to give the audience something lighter for the second half of the evening.
The Dock Brief, a comedy by John Mortimer, got a wonderful response from the audience.
Full of witty observations about life and legal matters this satire of the British courts offered two great performances.
Douglass Wragg was amusing as Morgenhall, a barrister who comes up with brilliant schemes but can’t deliver the goods, and Jon Hunt was likeable as uneducated bird fancier Fowle, who won over the audience despite his early admission of killing his wife.
Overall, this was a highly entertaining night celebrating 30 years of amateur dramatics from The Warninglid Players.
Let’s hope we see at least 30 more.
Review by Lawrence Smith