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Dennis Potter double bill by Frome Drama Club

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Frome Drama Club are nothing if not up to a challenge! But little did they know the challenges that doing two plays in one night would bring – but they think they are meeting them all and you should get your tickets for what will prove to be a brilliant theatrical experience.

Dennis Potter (May 17, 1935 – June 7, 1994) was a controversial English dramatist who is best known for several widely- acclaimed television dramas which mixed fantasy and reality and incorporated elements of popular culture. Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective are two of his most famous works.

Frome Drama Club (FDC) will tackle two of his short plays. Both will be directed by John Palmer who may be new to FDC but is very well known and respected as a South West director of huge experience and diversity. 

 Blue Remembered Hills is set in the Forest of Dean in the summer of 1943. Adult actors play seven-year-old children, and we see their aggressions, fears, and rivalries as a microcosm of adult interaction, whilst questioning any preconceptions we might have about the innocence of childhood. 

John has an impressive rehearsal schedule alternating from one play to the other, and he is very pleased with his cast and how rehearsals are going. For Blue Remembered Hills he has some familiar faces; Alan Burgess plays Donald Duck the poor bullied boy, Sue Ross and Suzy Howlett are having fun as the little girls pushing their pram everywhere. The other boys are played by Giles de Rivaz (Not About Heroes)  Simon Joyce, Richard Moore and new-comer Gerrard Crawshaw.

Brimstone and Treacle is, as John tells us, Dennis Potter’s favourite play, and challenges us on many fronts. It is a cautionary, Mephistophelean drama commissioned by the BBC in 1974 only to be mothballed for some 13 years as it was considered too controversial for viewers of the time.  

A mysterious young man named Martin ingratiates himself with an older couple, Tom and Amy Bates, who are full time carers for their adult daughter, Pattie. Tom is played by another new-comer Julian Thomas, his wife Amy is played by Polly Lamb (Ariel In The Tempest) and FDC regular Django Lewis-Clark is taking on the challenge of the devilish Martin. The challenge of the difficult role of their very disabled daughter Amy is met with much skill by Georgie Littlewood. John says. “This play has some very thought provoking themes, not just sexual, but about faith, racism and life in general, and I promise they will all be handled sensitively.”

The set, of course, must work for both Blue Remembered Hills and Brimstone and Treacle; for the first half of the evening it will be the Forest of Dean, with a barn and lots of trees to climb, and then miraculously during the interval it will turn into a mid-70s’ semi-detached house. There is a secret, and may be a surprise, on how this is pulled off. Come and see how they do it!

For an evening of excellent acting, innovative direction and brilliant effects – don’t miss this production.

The Dennis Potter Double Bill is at the Merlin Theatre 4th – 6th April . Tickets £10/8 from box office on 01373 465949.


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