By Lesley Eltringham

Ponteland Repertory Society’s first live performance after Covid restrictions were relaxed was truly ambitious: an outdoor production in Philip and Ruth Browell’s beautiful gardens in Bolam of excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays. Rehearsals done, lines learned, stage built, tickets sold and then it rained, no it poured! Undaunted, and with the kind permission of the Churchwardens the performers and audience moved indoors to the inspiring characterful church of St. Andrew’s and as always “The Rep” kept calm and carried on.

We watched wonderful performances from our cast. Lizzie Browell’s beautiful soprano voice soared through the old church singing Jacobean and Elizabethan song, also performing pieces from Titus Andronicus, As You Like it and Richard III. Our “Preppies”, with Carole Davies and Leo Emmerson, provided comedy as The Mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream much to the amusement of our audience. An excellent piece as Richard III from Jack Stuart was all dissembling and menace. Philip Browell humorously entertained us all with his Falstaff from The Merry Wives of Windsor and the Prologue from Romeo and Juliet.

Other characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream made an appearance including the multi-talented Hayley Grant as Helena and Peter Errington and Sarah Blythe as two very different but highly effective Pucks.

From the Tragedies Jonny Woollett and Jules Stevenson Warrender delved skilfully and with much drama into the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. After which Jonny and Jason Long gave a fierce portrayal of Macbeth and MacDuff from the Scottish play as a pair of gangsters.

Amber Covington’s haunting laughter, as she ran through the church as the crazed Ophelia from Hamlet, startled the audience at first, but earned her huge applause at the end for such an outstanding portrayal. Anna Wilson conveyed the emotion of a broken Juliet from Romeo and Juliet.

A further highlight, the three faces of Cleopatra was memorably played by Hayley Grant, Sarah Blythe and Amber Covington, with subtle skill and empathy, concluding their performance with the shared Sonnet 71.

Grateful thanks to everyone who gave of their time and energy, especially Ruth, Claire and Victoria on teas and cakes, Lesley on meeting and greeting with programmes and John, Philip, Ruth and Gav on stage creation duties (unfortunately consigned to be under a tarpaulin due to the heavy rain) to making this production such a success!

Ponteland Rep proving once again that they are alive and kicking!

Shakespeare In The Garden