A Bunch of Amateurs
a comedy by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman.
In their introduction to this play Ian Hislop and Nick Newman describe it as ‘a love letter to amateur dramatics’ and so it is.
‘A Bunch of Amateurs’ started life as a film screenplay for a movie released in 2008 starring Burt Reynolds, Sir Derek Jacobi, Imelda Staunton and Samantha Bond. To quote Hislop and Newman again ‘The experience of writing the film was to have a direct impact on the writing of the subsequent play. Whereas the film was written from the imagination, the play was based far more on our experience of working with a bona fide Hollywood star. Like our hero the former Hollywood legend Jefferson Steel, Burt Reynolds was looking to reboot his career. Like Steel, Reynolds was surrounded by actors more versed in Shakespeare than he. Like Jefferson, Burt had a problem remembering some of his lines. The words “ I can do it with a look” saw a page of dialogue disappear on screen. So when the Watermill Theatre, Newbury finally commissioned us to write Amateurs for the stage in 2014, we knew we could make it much richer and more realistic.’
Keen to boost his flagging career, fading Hollywood action hero Jefferson Steel arrives in England to play King Lear in Stratford – only to find that this is not the birthplace of the Bard, but a sleepy Suffolk village. And instead of Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench, the cast are a bunch of amateurs trying to save their theatre from developers. Jefferson’s monstrous ego, vanity, and insecurity are tested to the limit by the enthusiastic am-dram thespians. As acting worlds collide and Jefferson’s career implodes, he discovers some truths about himself – along with his inner Lear!
Whatsonstage gave it 5 stars and described it a ‘terrific comedy packed with killer comic dialogue .. and plenty of twists and turns’. Just the show for carnival week in Hastings.
A Stables Theatre production directed by Chris Lacey.
Jefferson Steel – David Morley
Dorothy Nettle – Jenny Lloyd-Lyons
Nigel Dewsbury – Michael Wilson
Mary Plunkett – Sally Ann Lycett
Denis Dobbins – Mark Lee
Lauren Bell – Madeleine Lee
Jessica Steel – Katie Marks
Assistants to the Director/ Prompt /Off stage voices – Libby Annetts. Bez Cuss
Props Manager – Carrie Beeson