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2015 presents:
Website Updated 24/03/15
This is a not-for-profit UK theatre-going group for our friends and colleagues and their own extended group of friends. It costs nothing to join us but must be by personal introduction from another member of the group. We provide tickets at group discounts (and coach transport from Southend, if required) for London theatres. We do not sell tickets to the public.
Welcome to our Theatre Group website - we hope you will find all the information you need.  
Organisers: Fredo & Mike - E-mail: or 
On this page -  click heading to jump to section or scroll down page  
>Latest Offers: It's time to make a booking -  
Ah, Wilderness! + Kinky Boots + Temple + The Mentalists  
Details of all Available Bookings are shown on the Current Bookings page - 
click HERE or on the individual ads above.  Extra Discounts for our Donmar Friends
>Next Theatre Visits:
31 March 
at the  
Mike's mini-group: no coach 
Press Night performance 
No reviews yet, 
except much praise from Stratford!
1 April 
at the  
Royal Opera House 
Covent Garden
The drama goes like wildfire, with Christine Rice’s voraciously voluptuous Jenny and Kurt Streit’s sweetly sacrificial Jimmy sung and acted with compelling authority. The chorus are on brilliant form, the dancers are directed with sly wit, and in the pit Mark Wigglesworth brings out all the shifting moods and colours of the score. An uneven work, and an uneven show, but with plenty of things to enjoy.
at the Arts Theatre 
Evening Standard 
A bitingly witty, splendidly written 100-minute attack on long-simmering family tensions. It's a visceral thrill to watch Daphna and Liam tear into each other, sometimes physically, over their respective lifestyle choices and a guilty pleasure to witness tuneless Melody’s doomed attempts at peace-making. Bad Jews equals good news.
8 May 
at theTrafalgar Studio 2 
The Father (is) now triumphantly revived at Trafalgar Studios. Abbey Wright’s crisp, clear production could hardly feel more contemporary. Laurie Slade’s hyper-modern adaptation is a gift...and the strongest possible case for The Father’s return to the repertoire.
Updated 24/03/15 -   
What we see without the Group:  click HERE or on the ads below
>News and Information: Please scroll down the page    
Closer than ever 
  When Josie Rourke welcomed us to the Director's Forum performance of Closer, she pointed out that the play hadn't been seen in London for 18 years. It was a play that she, as a young woman growing up in Manchester, hadn't seen on stage, yet like The Weir and My Night With Reg, it belongs with what she thinks of as a late twentieth-century canon. She was delighted to present it in the uniquely intimate setting of the Donmar, with a cast that included her mother's favourite, Rufus Sewell. 
 The play has stood the test of time, and still has the power to shock. And for a play that is often criticised for its hard-edged cynicism, in this interpretation it comes across as a heart-breaking observation of the destructive force of emotional and sexual jealousy on relationships. Line by line, writer Patrick Marber places his characters in opposition to each other: "Isn't love enough?" wails one. Apparently not; and given the prominence of one character's occupation as an obituary writer and the memorial of Postman's Park (created to commemorate those who sacrificed their own lives to save others - click HERE and see pictures), death casts a shadow over their untidy entanglements.
 In the discussion after the show, director David Leveaux said that although the play hadn't been revived in London for many years, it had been in the ether in many different productions in the UK and Europe. Patrick Marber had felt he wanted to produce a new work before a major new production of this play (and his latest play The Red Lion will be presented at the National this spring). He had approached David about 4 years ago and asked him to direct Closer  when it was revived - and now feels like the right time.  
  Nancy Carroll admitted that the play seems bleak, and that Patrick says that this was how he felt about relationships when he wrote the play. He directed the first production himself, and emphasised the humour and pace to balance the bleakness. However, he feels more positive now, and trusts the play to speak for itself. He also trusts the director and actors, and was willing to make minor adjustments to the text where it might have dated. Rufus Sewell said Marber told them to ignore his punctuation, and to say the lines in their own way.  
  Rufus pointed out that the play shows us the start of relationships ("when they're driven by lust," interjected Rachel Redford) and the end, when a destructive element has entered. We aren't shown the happy bit in the middle. It's about people who fall into relationships and get bruised in the process, Nancy added, emphasising that it was not a hopeless play. David agreed: above all, it is not a cynical play - it never suggests that love is not real, but it grapples with the messiness of love. 
  The enigma in the play is Alice, given a pitch-perfect performance by Rachel Redford. In many ways, Alice is the motor of the play, taking control in the crucial scene at the start of Act Two; she is also the character who most openly confronts the consequences of infidelity. Rachel had asked Patrick about Alice's background, and he replied: "I don't know. Just play what's on the page."  
  Earlier this week we heard Russell Tovey say that CLOSER was the best play he had ever read, and indeed it is more tightly woven than one might realise on a first viewing. It packs a punch, not because the dialogue is explicit (which it is, very) but because Patrick Marber presents his characters at their most duplicitous, their most manipulative and their most vulnerable. As David Levaux summed it up, it is hard-edged, liked a diamond. And like a diamond, it is many faceted.  
  And, added Mrs Rourke's favourite actor, it's fun to play.  
Fredo   19/03/15
The Actors’ Centre in Covent Garden exists to support actors throughout their career, and to help them to hone their craft. In order to raise money, they have a series of interviews, Off the Record, with established actors, and on Monday Mike and I went to the Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to hear Paul Clayton interview Russell Tovey.
  Russell took charge as soon as he arrived, greeting the audience and appearing to be totally at ease. He was in fact an interviewer’s dream-subject: friendly, articulate and generous with his information. 
  Paul began with his standard question: Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted to be an actor? 
  Russell was able to pin-point this exactly. He’d been involved in drama and gymnastics at school in Billericay (Essex features prominently in his life), aged 10, and one day an actor from Grange Hill had visited the class. Young Russell had his photograph taken with his hero, and then during the Easter holidays, he’d watched Dead Poets’ Society, The Goonies, Home Alone and Stand By Me. He realised that this was what he wanted to do with his life, be an actor, and continued with his drama class.  
  He auditioned for the television series Mud and got the part, appearing with the young Russell Brand. Although this was a great experience, it was difficult for him to fit in at school when he came back, until his class-mates found out that he could be “a bit naughty and cheeky.” 
  Russell eventually went to Barking College to do the Drama course, but... 
continued HERE 
Nominations for the final Theatre Awards of the season were announced today. I refer, of course, to the Olivier award nominations, and it's rewarding for us that so many of the productions we have taken you to see are award-winning possibilities. Each category has about five nominations but we shall have to wait until the awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on Sunday 12 April to find out who the winners are. In the meantime, ask yourself who you think deserves to walk off with the statuettes.
This week we are taking you to Beautiful and that has eight nominations in various categories, but is narrowly beaten by Memphis with nine. Our personal favourite production, A View From The Bridge, has seven nominations including Best Play Revival, Best Actor (Mark Strong) and Best Director (Ivo Van Hove). The Crucible is not forgotten, with a Best Actor nomination (Richard Armitage). And Penelope Wilton gets a Best Actress nomination for her role in Taken At Midnight. King Charles III and Sunny Afternoon are well represented with four nominations each. We are happy that the Donmar has picked up nominations for My Night With Reg and City of Angels, including a Best Director one for Josie Rourke.  Some of you will be pleased that Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies has been remembered, and perhaps we can all agree with Kevin Spacey being given a Special Award for all he has done for the Old Vic during his long period as Artistic Director which ends this year. Have any nominations been overlooked which you would like to have seen on the list? You can check the full list by clicking HERE
Mike   09/03/15 
Click on the Cat to read Libby's reviews
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Ask us about Theatre Tokens: 
They make ideal gifts for theatre-going friends. They are available in denominations of Ł20, Ł10 and Ł5 and can be used to buy theatre tickets at all West End theatres and the half-price tkts booth in Leicester Square. You can buy them from us and we accept them too. 
Click on the ear (left) to read about Hearing Devices now available in many theatres. They may be of help to YOU.
Palace Theatre: 4.40  Chalkwell Schools: 4.45  Elms: 4.50 
Thames  Drive: 4.55   Hadleigh: 5.00  Tarpots: 5.15   Five Bells: 5.20 
All shows are evening performances unless matinee times are given (see below) - 
29/04/15 Americal Buffalo - this is a 2.30pm matinee.  
Please note coach departure times - 
Palace Theatre: 11.30am;  Chalkwell Schools: 11.35;  Elms: 11.40; 
Thames  Drive: 11.45;  Hadleigh: 11.50;  Tarpots: 11.55;   Five Bells: 12.00 
12/07/15 The Beaux' Stratagem - this is a 2.30pm matinee.  
Please note coach departure times - 
Palace Theatre: 11.30am  Chalkwell Schools: 11.35;  Elms: 11.40; 
Thames  Drive: 11.45;   Hadleigh: 11.50;  Tarpots: 11.55;   Five Bells: 12.00 
19/07/15 and 26/07/15 The Car Man - this is a 2.30pm matinee.  
Please note coach departure times - 
Palace Theatre: 11.30am  Chalkwell Schools: 11.35;  Elms: 11.40; 
Thames  Drive: 11.45;   Hadleigh: 11.50;  Tarpots: 11.55;   Five Bells: 12.00 
Buy theatre tickets in advance and the curtain rises on countless pleasures, but wait for other options and the curtain falls on opportunity.  
Old West End Proverb