Medstead Players - Appletastic - November 2018

Written by Colin Barrow
Directed by Nita Simpson


Full house for 'Appletastic'in Medstead

Not many Comedy Mystery plays will keep you enthralled till the very end in such an entertaining way. 'Appletastic', was performed in the wonderful village hall at Medstead, on Friday and Saturday nights 23rd and 24th November, by the very versatile Medstead Players. We went on the last night, Saturday, and were not disappointed. The Play was originally written by Colin Barrow many years ago, and this production was Directed by Nita Simpson.

The story unfolds in a house that Roger and Rose Dunstable have bought and renovated recently. It transpires that Roger used to live in the house at the age of around seven, when a few family members disappeared. It soon becomes clear that the sight of a rosy red apple tree in the garden, stirs some memories in Roger's mind. Engaging Miss Percy and the butch Miss Pilsworth to work on the neglected back garden, and the subsequent arrival of their son and daughter in law, Matt and Lucy Dunstable, who are enthusiastic to find out more of the family history, the plot thickens. A human skeleton is found in the garden! The story unfolds with the introduction of Inspector Thompson, a forensic anthropologist Dr Palmer, and the very interesting and rather crazy Professor Mary Southwood. After many twists and turns, all is finally revealed.

Peter Cox in his role as Roger made interesting body movements, gestures and total absorption in his role made him engaging and interesting to watch. Sharon Blackshaw as Rose, along with Kathy Gunning as Georgia Pilsworth, Sue Millet as Emma Percy, all did exceptionally well and were totally believable as their characters. Simon and Sophie Buckingham in their debut roles as Matt and Lucy were convincing in their roles. Nicola Young as the obsessive fun loving professor seemed to be totally 'off the wall' which proved to be in character. Patrick Burridge as the Doctor and Clive Winchester as the Inspector, made their characters appear Natural and believable.

The minimalistic set and props established the correct mood for the play and added to the development of the characters. Once or twice the positioning of the actors made for awkward moments, but added to the comedy element of the production. The lighting and sound production contributed significantly to the overall performance. The evening was a huge success, with a very varied age group audience, and was sold out both nights. A very enjoyable evening.
[Gary Ellis]

Medstead Village Hall was full to overflowing on both nights of this production of Appletastic by Colin Barrow. The cast members obviously relished the characters they portrayed.

Peter Cox as Roger bumbled about, clumsy but loveable and Sharon Blackshaw as Rose coped well with her husband in a patient but exasperated manner, as only a longstanding wife would do.

The lady gardeners were great fun, Kathy Gunning 'bigging' herself up physically to appear very butch and tough as 'George', while Sue Millett as Emma adopted the softly, softly approach, which disclosed much of the hidden information about Roger and his past.

Simon and Sophie Buckingham slotted in well as Matt and Lucy, appropriately enough as they are husband and wife in real life! Nicola Young as the flamboyantly dressed man eating academic Professor Southwood, made a play for the Inspector Thompson, played by Clive Winchester, who didn't seem the slightest bit inclined to rebut her advances. Patrick Burrage took the part of Doctor Palmer the forensic anthropologist in a convincingly professional manner.

Everyone in the cast took their parts very well. A great deal of hard work had obviously been needed, as there were a lot of lines to learn. The ever changing backdrop and special effects including realistic thunder and lightning, bonfire smoke and chainsaws in the garden added to the overall professionalism of this production. I'm sure the Director, Nita Simpson and everyone else involved in staging the production must have been very pleased with the outcome and the audiences on both nights went home having enjoyed some excellent entertainment.
[Pam Kercher]


Well! well,! well,! should I say Appletastic or "appetitestic". Another fabulous performance by the Medstead Players, performing to full houses both nights.

The Dunstable family must have been proud to have such fond memories re-enacted in the centre of their sitting room and back garden, who wouldn't? The audience sat in suspense, animation, laughter and pure puzzlement as the clues were unravelled. At one stage, it seemed to be an attempt by a gin-totting cast to improvise a story. However, as the plot thickened, the talented cast revealed what fun a simple photo, an apple tree and a nursery rhyme could evoke in a twist to a fifty year old mystery.

Peter Cox, as Roger Dunstable made the audience roar with laughter telling us of the wasps that visited to feed on his apples and plums beside their outside privy, always catching him with his trousers around his ankles. Sharon Blackshaw did exceptionally well as his long suffering wife Rose, who seemed to take everything in her stride, as well as having to put up with a clumsy coward of a husband, who cannot even put up a picture on the wall. Simon and Sophie Buckingham in their debut for the Players, convincingly fulfilled the roles of son Matt - jovial but witty, and daughter in law Lucy, who clearly demonstrated how to keep the situation real, by just being normal.

Kathy Gunning (Georgia) excelled in the role of the butch and outrageous gardener, with good nasal skills especially in lifts! She was ably partnered by Sue Millet (Emma) as her meeker civil and work partner. Nicola Young (Professor Southwood) a vegetarian who eats meat because she boldly tells us 'the animals eat grass', sparked a debate in the audience during the scene changing breaks. Clive Winchester (Inspector Thompson) and Patrick Burridge (Doctor Palmer) both gave unquestionable performances in their supporting roles.

The set, lighting and sound, together with the realistic outside backdrops added to the overall effect. Finally but most importantly, hats off to Director, Nita Simpson for bringing it all together.

A very professional and entertaining performance all round, which left us wanting more - yes please.
[Jenny Overy]

Roger Dunstable - Peter Cox
Rose Dunstable - Sharon Blackshaw
Georgia Pilsworth - Kathy Gunning
Emma Percy - Sue Millet
Matt Dunstable - Simon Buckingham
Lucy Dunstable - Sophie Buckingham
Professor Mary Southwood - Nicola Young
Inspector Thompson - Clive Winchester
Doctor Palmer - Patrick Burridge

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