Bartholomew Players' last production, performed at Eynsham Village Hall from Wed 30th November to Sat 3rd December 2016, was Yes, Prime Minister by Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.
Pictures from the production can be seen in the Archives.
What the critics said:
Gillian Somerscales was cast as Jill Hacker only a fortnight before the curtain went up, because two previous candidates had unexpectedly dropped out ... And what a job she does – whirling about the stage, full of hubris that turns to panic as events take an increasingly farcical turn, thanks to a dignitary’s demand for an orgy at Chequers....t’s a relief at times to hear the soothing, if patently insincere, tones of Gareth Hammond as the scheming Sir Humphrey Appleby, all pomp and pinstripes as he reels off multi-caveated ripostes with aplomb – earning deserved applause for his verbal dexterity....Whether or not you saw the TV series, you’ll still be able to enjoy the intrigue and witty dialogue, which is sprinkled with more risqué lines than Auntie Beeb allowed on prime-time. ...The production values in this piece – Denise Santilli’s directorial debut – are typically robust and the performances charming. Ed Miller is delightful as Sir Humphrey’s earnest underling, Bernard Woolley – when I say he’s rubber-faced, that’s meant as a compliment....Kate O’Connor is compelling as the shrewd, glamorous Claire Sutton, Head of the Policy Unit at Number Ten, while Steve Ashcroft is a refreshingly worldly-wise foil to the haughty British PM in his role as the Ambassador of oil-rich Kumranistan.... Nick Smith is suave, but a little diffident as the badgered Director-General of the BBC – I fear the piercing gaze of steely interviewer Simone Chester (Liz Hutchinson) would leave him flustered.... Sara Miller is the voice of a BBC press officer who is given short thrift....It’s a must for satire fans and however jaded a political observer you are, you’re likely to be thunderstruck during the show. You’ve been warned...
Paul Stammers, Eynsham Online
*****************What a triumph! ... It was one of the best amateur productions I have seen. The set was very good and appropriate, The lighting and sound were very effective. ...Gareth Hammond (Sir Humphrey) was most convincing as the conniving civil servant. His meaningless diatribes were delivered with pin-point accuracy, leaving everyone knowing exactly what he meant, which was nothing at all....Ed Miller was very credible as the hapless Bernard, (Principal Private Secretary to the PM), a good foil to the brusque and efficient Sir Humphrey...What a stroke of genius to cast Gillian Somerscales as the Prime Minister. Not only did the casting reflect the current situation, but her interpretation of the role was incredible, given that she only took over the part three weeks before. She commanded the stage magnificently and her drunken scene was a sight to behold. She had great presence and comedy timing. Congratulations to her....Kate O’Connor (Claire Sutton- Policy Advisor) was confident and efficient in her role, a good support to the PM in time of crisis. The Kumranistan Ambassador (Steve Ashcroft) was very convincing and sustained his accent well, (wherever it was from). He looked the part and was very effective in his silk pyjamas and curly slippers. ...Nick Smith (Director of the BBC) looked suitably uncomfortable under the two-pronged attack from the PM and Sir Humphrey. ...Liz Hutchinson (BBC presenter) was terrifying and very Paxman-esque in her interrogation of the PM and tried, unsuccessfully, to cut her off at every turn....Given that this was Denise Santilli’s first foray into directing, it was not obvious. The direction was excellent and made good use of the stage. There were some very nice touches throughout....The standard of the Bartholomew Players has increased immeasurably over the years and this was reflected in this production. Well done to everyone involved.
Nigel James, Oxfordshire Drama Network
... the Bartholomew Players always present polished and entertaining productions. This was to be no exception. The high production values were evident as the opening music faded and the tabs opened to reveal a striking representation of the Prime Ministers study at Chequers. The set designed by Steve Ashcroft ...looked very realistic indeed. ... This was Denise Santilli’s first foray into the world of directing and...she did a first class job. The action was fast paced with cues being picked up rapidly and the movement of the actors around the stage looked realistic and natural. ... Trisha Leopold’s ... authentic looking props were all used to good effect by the cast...Lighting and sound by Chris Drummond and Steve Drummond were effective elements in the production. .. Make-up by Ellina Mikhailova and hairdressing by Sue Greenwood looked fine and were totally in keeping with the setting and style of the play. Judith Essery’s costumes were again very appropriate.... Steve Ashcroft’s programme design looked very good.
Gillian Somerscales was amazing as Prime Minister Jill Hacker.... She had an incredible amount of dialogue to learn and..was word perfect. Gillian perfectly captured the character of the PM and held the stage well. Her diction was good and she displayed excellent stage presence.... Gareth Hammond was suitably statesman-like as...Sir Humphrey Appleby. This talented actor can turn his hand to most characters and here was no exception. This was a believable and convincing performance.... Bernard Woolley, PPS to the Prime Minister was played effectively by Ed Miller – capturing the character of ‘Devil’s Advocate very well... Kate O’Connor was perfectly cast as the PM’s Special Policy Advisor... She commanded the stage and her diction and projection were both first class. She was suitably glamourous and the power dressing costume was just right. A very strong performance indeed from this versatile actress.... Steve Ashcroft gave a sterling performance as the Kumranistan Ambassador.... Congratulations on bringing this character to life.... Nick Smith was excellent as the Director General of the BBC, Jeremy Burnham. This was a relaxed performance and Nick used the stage well.... Liz Hutchinson’s cameo as the BBC television presenter Simone Chester...had really got the mannerisms and icy stare down to a ‘T’. Her steely stare and relentless ‘interrogation’ was very well captured. Congratulations on a very well-judged performance. Sara Miller as the voice of unseen BBC press officer Robin Simpson rounded off the well-chosen and talented cast.
Rob Bertwistle, National Operatic & Dramatic Association
Cast in order of appearance
| Sir Humphrey Appleby, Cabinet Secretary|| Gareth Hammond |
| Bernard Woolley, PPS to the Prime Minister|| Ed Miller|
|Jill Hacker, Prime Minister|| Gillian Somerscales|
|Claire Sutton, Special Policy Advisor||Kate O'Connor|
|Kumranistan Ambassador ||Steve Ashcroft |
|Jeremy Burnham, Director General of the BBC||Nick Smith|
|Robin Simpson, BBC press officer (voice only)||Sara Miller|
|Simone Chester, BBC presenter ||Liz Hutchinson |
| || |
| Directed by||Denise Santilli |