Totton Preview Show

Written by Bench Theatre Members

Saturday 19th March 2011

Directed by Members of Bench Theatre

The first round of the All England Theatre Festival (Western Area, Southern Division) is usually held at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton. Bench Theatre first entered the festival competition in 2006 and has been a regular contributor ever since. In 2011, we have entered a record three new plays ALL written by current or past members of the company.

To mark this special occasion (and with the kind permission of the authors) Bench Theatre present a special preview show at The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre in Havant, featuring all three of our 2011 Totton Drama Festival competition entries. All Members and Backbenchers are invited to this special event. Friends can also be invited as long as they are accompanied by a paid up Member or Backbencher.

AuthorsBench Theatre Members

Lucy Flannery

Lucy has lived in Havant for over 30 years, and although she only joined the Bench in 2008, she has been coming to productions since the 1980s. The first Bench Production she saw was 'Hedda Gabler'. A keen theatre goer, she also frequently attends Chichester Festival Theatre and Spring productions whenever she can.

She has been a professional writer for over 20 years and has been published in a number of humorous magazines, including Punch. Her film and TV credits include episodes of 'Close to Home', 'The Two of Us', 'The Story of Tracy Beaker', and the 1994 film 'A Business Affair', (starring Christopher Walken, Jonathan Price and Sheila Hancock). Her work broadcast on Radio 4 includes the 1995 comedy series 'Any Other Business' (which starred John Duttine) and the series 'Rent' (which starred Patrick Barlow and Barbara Flynn) which won the 1993 Writers' Guild Award for Best Radio Comedy and ran for 4 series, from 1993 to 1998. 'Computer Dating' is her first play performed by Bench Theatre.

Jacquie Penrose (b 1950)

Jacquie Penrose is a writer and playwright and (with Bench Theatre) an amateur actor and director. She started writing in the 1980s and to date has written 14 plays, plus some novels and shorter works. At least 7 of her plays have been performed by Bench Theatre: 'Cross Your Heart', 'A Perfect Gentle Knight', 'Time and Tide' (trilogy), 'Renaissance', 'And God Created Michelangelo', 'Dreams of a Hero', 'The Party Guest'. She has also had a number of pieces performed as rehearsed readings by professional (Equity) actors in London, and she wrote and devised 'All About Us' a community play commissioned by Havant Borough Council (about the borough and its inhabitants) in 1990.

Jacquie has been awarded a substantial Arts Council Bursary for her writing, and in 2010, was awarded Best Director, and Best Original Play at the Totton round of the All-England Theatre Festival for 'The Party Guest'. Among several acting roles, she played Olga in Chekhov's 'Three Sisters' for which she received an excellent review however, she usually prefers to be more involved backstage. Since she joined Bench Theatre in 1976 she has directed countless productions, the first of which was 'Private Lives' in 1978. She remembers most fondly her work with the lighting design for the production of Ibsen's 'Ghosts' (a play she also directed) in 1991. Jacquie also spent several years as Editor of the Bench newsletter, 'Bench Press'; at least 5 years working on the Bench Executive Committee and 3 years as Committee Chair. She currently lives in Havant with her husband David.

Mark Wakeman (b 1972)

Mark Wakeman is an amateur author, playwright, actor and and director. He started writing short stories at the age of 8 and, spurred on by positive comments from a teacher, was inspired to write many more. It wasn't until he went to university, however, that his writing achieved wider recognition when two of his situation comedy scripts (co-written with Neil Kendall) - 'The Quiet Life' and 'Helpline' were performed by the University of North London Theatre Society. The success of these two works led to a full-length thriller, 'Undue Aggravation', being taken to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1995. Following university, he directed his own comedy 'Terror at Blagg Castle', which was produced by Goggles Theatre Company at Portsmouth Arts Centre in 1996, and Bench Theatre has produced several of his his one-act plays; 'The Unusual Suspects', 'Ice Station Zeros', 'Father for Justice', 'Lonesome Pine', 'Unworkable', 'The Big Freeze', 'Stand and Delivery' and 'The Girl in the Corner' for various 'Supernova' festivals of new writing since 2003.

His novels (as yet unpublished) include works in the detective, comedy, thriller, fantasy and sci-fi genres and he hopes to one day see one of his screenplays for sit-coms, TV detectives or sci-fi/action-spy thrillers accepted by the BBC. As an actor, Mark Wakeman has been performing since he was at school. The first of many acting roles with Bench Theatre was Dr John Jobling in 'Martin Chuzzlewit' in 1990 and he frequently receives excellent reviews. He directed several one-act plays at University of North London Theatre Society and his first directing role with Bench Theatre was 'The Office Party' by John Godber in 1998. As a member of the Soop Theatre Company, he has performed improvisational comedy in their 'Dude, Where's My Script?' shows since 2008.

Wakeman won Best Original Play for 'Stand and Delivery' (2007) and The Madge and Stanley Williams trophy for Best Script for 'Father for Justice' (2009) both in the All-England Drama Festival. Since he joined Bench Theatre in 1990, he has been a member of both the Bench Committee and Artistic Panel, and was Editor of Bench Press for a number of years. Mark Wakeman currently has four cats and lives in Havant.

Mike Hickman

Mike was a member of Bench Theatre Company from 1997 to 2001 and formed this writing partnership with Mark Wakeman through a shared love of Laurel and Hardy. His first acting role with Bench Theatre was as Mr Gardner, in Simon Gray's 'Butley'. To date this is the only play he has written which Bench Theatre has performed.

PlayTotton Preview Show

Computer Dating

Six strangers, three couples, ninety seconds to find true love. The play is a funny and poignant insight in to what some people go through to find the partner of their dreams. This play was first performed by Bench Theatre in 2010 as part of the Supernova 5 festival of new writing.

How to Visit Pompeii with a General Plan and Three Itineraries

The title of this play was taken from a 1982 locally produced guide to the excavated site of Pompeii, by Piemme & Enrika D'Orta. The scene is Pompeii, on a hot day in August. In this comedy, Elspeth and Corinne are on a package holiday. The play was originally written in the early 1980s and first performed by Bench Theatre in 1987 as part of a touring trilogy of plays, all written by Jacquie, under the banner 'Time and Tide'.

Aunt Elspeth and her niece Corinne have reluctantly agreed to share a holiday after the break-up of Elspeth's marriage. Neither of them really want to be there on the holiday, but are doing their best to make the best of things. It's Tuesday, so it's Pompeii - and for Elspeth and Corinne - their feet ache, it's hot and they're beginning to think that all this history and culture isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. The main problem it seems, is the effect that all of it has on the feet.

Lonesome Pine

Stanley Jefferson was a music hall comedian who went to America to try and get his big break in the movies. Eventually ending up working for Hal Roach he became an accomplished writer, producer and director of short silent films, a 'Gag Man' with an instinctive genius for comedy who while appearing in a number of films, somehow never ignited the imagination of the US in the same way that his old friend Charles Chaplin did. He was on the verge of quitting performing to concentrate on writing when an accident brought him into a film with 'Babe' Hardy. When the two of them were on screen together, the public DID look and the public DID laugh and Jefferson became Laurel while 'Babe' became Oliver and a comedy legend was born.

The fictitious location of this play (The Lonesome Pine Ski Lodge) was chosen by the authors following reports of Laurel's dying words "I'd rather be skiing" - even though he had never been able to ski. The premise of Laurel's fantasies were taken from the fact that for many years after the death of Hardy, he continued to write scripts for the two of them - scripts that he must have known would never be performed. This play was first performed by Bench Theatre in 2005 as part of the Supernova3 festival of new writing.

The Bench Production

Totton Preview Show image

These plays were staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977, to a specially invited audience of members, family and friends. All three plays were staged again the following week as part of the First Round of the All England Theatre Festival at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Totton, where they won multiple awards.

Computer Dating

First ManAndrew Caple
First WomanSharman Callam
Second ManThomas Hall
Second WomanMegan Green
Third ManRichard Le Moignan
Third WomanFern Bicheno
DirectorCallum West

How to Visit Pompeii...

ElspethDi Wallsgrove
CorinneRosie Carter
DirectorJacquie Penrose
Totton Preview Show image

Lonesome Pine

McCarey/DoctorMelanie Cole
Guiseppe/RolfThomas Hall
OllieMark Wakeman
StanleyPete Woodward
Nurse/FlorenceBeth Evans
MaisieClaire Lyne
DirectorRoger Wallsgrove


Stage Managers
Julie Wood
Sally Hartley
Lighting Operation Robin Hall
Programme and
Melanie Cole
Set Design Kevin West
Poster and Flier Design Dan Finch

Production Photographs

Computer Dating

How To Visit Pompeii...

Lonesome Pine