Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

fright poe

Stuart Wishart in Poe's Tell Tale Heart

Fright Night

The Nonentities


It seems both unfair and remarkable in the scale of things, that The Nonentities have such a talented and capable pool of actors to deliver their current short, summer season of plays.

While the pandemic has created huge problems for Theatre as whole, they have re-emerged with an engaging antidote to the social restrictions imposed upon us all, an antidote that presents the very best players of the company, with a solo spotlight in which to shine.

This week’s selection of three short plays, collectively called Fright Night, was compiled from the writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens.

The first was The Tell Tale Heart by Poe. A deranged man plots to kill his neighbour, but his ingenuity in concealing the deed is finally unravelled by his own broken mind. This dark gothic tale featured Stuart Wishart who relished the opportunity to hold centre stage and treat us to an exhibition of very convincing character acting.

Directed by Tori Wakeman, Mr Wishart mined every facet of this nervous character whilst recollecting his act of murder. The simple setting of a few props, stage risers and a black backdrop were the perfect atmosphere for this and the subsequent performances.


Patrick Bentley sitting in judgment in Trial for Murder

Next came Trial For Murder by Charles Dickens and featured Patrick Bentley. A prospective juror for a murder trial receives an apparition of the murdered man at his apartment. Later, and as the trial continues, he sees the apparition several times, believing him at times to be an actual person in the courtroom.

Mr Bentley was splendid in the role as the comfortable bachelor, Victorian gentlemen, retelling the tale one evening over of a glass of whiskey. Mr Bentley is often included in the company’s ensemble work, but the solo aspect of all of these monologue plays presents a great opportunity for an actor. It is still though a considerable undertaking, with each play lasting around 20 mins. Directed by Jen Ellington is was yet another skilful, chilling addition to the evening.

wishart cats

Stuart Wishart again as the drunk in Poe's classic The Black Cat

The Final piece was Poe’s The Black Cat, again with Stuart Wishart in the role and Tori Wakeman directing. A once amenable family man is driven to unspeakable acts of violence and cruelty while under the disease of achohol dependence.

Mr Wishart’s clipped and polished delivery of this brutal man, drew gasps from the audience as he calmly recalled his callous acts to the house cat. It was a credit to his performance that he achieved this via his precise timing and cool recollection of the deeds.

The format of these short plays and simple staging all add to a great deal of variety to an evening of theatre as it focusses purely on acting skill. Once the lockdown restrictions are fully lifted it is expected that The Nonentities will return once again to plays that engage the entire company as whole.

However, this short play format calls for the minimal of production expense, yet creates the maximum dramatic effect and possibly is a worthy regular addition to their programme.

Before the larger productions arrive, I would urge anyone to go see what the company can do with a little bit of staging and lot of individual talent.  To 10-07-21

Jeff Grant


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