Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

The Tinderbox & Other Stories
 by Hans Christian Andersen adapted by Nick Warburton
directed by Pat Hamilton, Paul Philpott & NIck Warburton

The ADC Theatre, Cambridge, December 2004

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A Review of The Tinderbox & Other Stories
by Chris Shinn

Cambridge's two amateur drama production companies joined forces for their 2004 Christmas production. Local writer Nick Warburton adapted The Tinderbox, The Princess and The Pea and The Flying Trunk for the stage in the main to good effect. It gave the two groups ample opportunity to mount a large cast, large-scale production. Three directors were employed and Nick Warburton, Paul Philpott and Pat Hamilton respectively are to be congratulated on the seamless way in which each part came together; you really couldn't see the join!

Tony Broscomb's excellent set paved the way for the evening ahead. I particularly liked the way in which the mattresses were piled onto the bed (you had to be there). Barry Brown and Mandi Cattell as Davy and Flora Bottle got the evening off to a great start with good support from David Philpott as Martin and Emerald O'Hanrahan as Princess Helena. There were many other fine performances but special mention to Hannah Curtis as Cragg (I had to look in the programme to find out it was her she'll be glad to know), Colin McLean as Skip and young Blair Merrick who controlled Keeper the dog very convincingly.

Although overall the combining of the three stories was successful, I did feel that very occasionally the action seemed to fall a little flat, although nobody else in the audience was too fidgety so it was probably just me. Costumes were great and all of the effects worked well, particularly the flying trunk. However I did at times find it difficult to pick out the aforementioned Keeper against the black background. A pity.
One of the many strengths of these two groups is that they have people of leading role ability who are quite happy to play minor roles with few or indeed no lines at all. Whilst actors are prepared to do that, how can you fail?

The pooling of the two company's resources proved to be a successful experiment and one that hopefully will be repeated. So, many thanks to Combined Actors and Bawds for a very enjoyable evening, which made an excellent start to the Christmas festivities.