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The Nightingales starring Ruth Jones
December 3rd - December 8th
PRIOR TO WEST END
Jenny Topper and Theatre Royal Bath Productions present
RUTH JONES in
A comedy by William Gaminara
Directed by Chris Luscombe
One of the UK’s best-loved stars, Ruth Jones, makes her highly anticipated return to the stage in this witty, thought-provoking and bittersweet new play by William Gaminara.
Under the watchful eye of Steven, their choirmaster, Connie, Ben, Diane and Bruno gather every week in the village hall to practise their accomplished acapella singing. They are a motley crew, but whatever their differences, whatever the problems they may have at home, all are happily bound together in their shared love of music. Until one day Maggie knocks on the door. . . Soon she is urging them to enter Talentfest, a potentially life-changing route to Britain’s Got Talent. In the weeks that follow, loyalties will be tested, tempers will fray and lives will indeed be changed – but not in the way that any of them had quite anticipated.
The part of Maggie provides a compelling role for Ruth Jones, best known as the co-writer of the award-winning BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey, in which she starred as Nessa. Other acting credits include Jimmy McGovern’s The Street, Little Britain, Saxondale, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Little Dorrit and Hattie Jacques in Hattie. Her most recent comedy series, Stella, ran for six series on Sky Television. Her debut novel, Never Greener, is a Sunday Times number one bestseller.
William Gaminara is an actor and writer, best known for playing Leo Dalton in Silent Witness from 2002 – 2013 and Dr Richard Locke in The Archers. His plays include According to Hoyle and The Three Lions. Writing for TV includes This Life and The Lakes.
Christopher Luscombe’s productions include Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night for The RSC, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Nell Gwynn for Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End, Enjoy, When We Are Married and The Madness of George III. He is an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
★★★★ “Ruth Jones hits a high note in this stirring drama … The performances, directed by Christopher Luscombe amid a nicely detailed, fittingly draughty-looking church-hall set by Jonathan Fensom, are all first-rate” Daily Telegraph
★★★★ “Ruth Jones is on song in this catty choir drama … the strength of its six actors combined with the spark and pace of Gaminara’s script. The dramatic moments are charged, the comedy tickles, the intrigue is sustained and there is a solid entertainment value to it all” Guardian
“William Gaminara’s watchable new comedy … plenty of smiles, a few guffaws and even the occasional sniffle. An agreeable, well-acted evening” Daily Mail
★★★★ “This immaculate production is a treat” Stage Talk Magazine
“Destined to go straight to the top of the Best New Plays of 2018 tree” The Bath Magazine
“Ruth Jones is tantalising as Maggie” Bristol Post
Production photographs by Geraint Lewis
Ticket price includes a £1 contribution to our heritage fund.
Ruth Jones Shines as she portrays Maggie in This Slick and well Balanced Production Written by William Gaminara it had everything from Comedy ,Drama , intrigue and in someways sadness Plus a very strong story Line. An extremely entertaining evening a Production that cannot be missed
Choice Radio Worcester
It may be 12 years since Ruth Jones - star and co-creator/writer of Gavin & Stacey and Stella - was last on stage but her return to treading the boards is a corker.
Set in a village's community hall (shared with the scouts amongst others), "The Nightingales" by William Gaminara (writer of BBC's The Lakes and best known as Professor Dalton in Silent Witness) starts, unusually, with all 6 of the cast members on stage, 5 of them huddled around a piano and another, Maggie, about to tell the story of how she came to be in the small village and subsequently part of this group of acapella singers.
Head, in terms of being choir leader at least, is Steven (Steven Pacey), overseeing the small group consisting of his younger wife Diane (Mary Stockley), husband and wife Connie and Ben (Sarah Earnshaw and Philip McGinley) and local teacher Bruno (Stefan Adegbola).None of the characters seem particularly happy with their lot but singing, at least at the beginning, brings them together. Bruno, for example, recalls being the subject of a helicopter police hunt when once out jogging, raising the suspicions of the locals simply because he was black…
Five becomes six as Welsh newcomer Maggie manages to inveigle herself into the group through a series of circumstances and truths/lies (we are never quite sure which), and participation in a national "Talentfest" competition brings considerable conflict and disruption to the group. As such, Maggie generates feelings of sympathy and loathing in equal measures throughout the play, even in the dénouement at the end.
This is a very bittersweet comedy, bringing together themes of infidelity, deceit, race, stereotypes, problematic marriages, lust - just the sort of things which go on, often in unspoken terms, in small villages. As the deception appears to unravel, the second half in particular is much more bitter than sweet but it is not until the end that the audiences can finally differentiate fact from fiction. Or can we?
It's not clear whether the play was written with Ruth Jones in mind, but there is, in the script, a very definite need for a Welsh lead as it contains numerous references to Welsh cakes and the fact that she should be a good singer. Ruth Jones is perfect in the role, believable as the conniving Welsh infiltrator into Middle English life, especially on the numerous occasions when she is talking directly to the audience. Oh, and fortunately the ensemble can actually hold a tune too!
Absolutely loved this play, very cleverly written and you’re still not sure whether Maggie is lying or telling the truth at the end. The cast are excellent and I would definitely recommend everyone go and see this.