It was with great pleasure that I joined Best Foot Forward for the read-through of their latest play, ‘Seasons Greetings’, by Alan Ayckbourn. It’s early days yet, but I reckon it’s going to be a ‘Must See’ event for North Pembrokeshire.
They are a great bunch and it’s clear that not only are they brimming with talent but they actually like each other. That’s often a hard thing to achieve among performers but it not only makes for a great social experience, it also means good on-stage chemistry and great timing.
What’s the play about?
Apparently it’s a 9 character dark comedy set in a house over the Christmas period involving drunkenness, infidelity and intrigue. Just a normal night in Fishguard one of the cast quips and everyone laughs.
“Sounds fun, but why did they choose this play?
“ We really want to develop as a company”, Jana, one of the company directors told me, “ We are no strangers to challenge and aim to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This play was selected by a committee of readers and on the first reading we were in stitches.”
Best Foot Forward are no strangers to challenge. While they are very experienced performers in conventional settings like Theatr Gwaun, where they have delighted audiences for many years, they also perform in pubs and clubs and cafes and you may have come across them promenading their Murder Mystery Play, Murder On The Golden Mile, through Fishguard in October 2018.
This particular play has a cast of 5 men and 4 women and called for some new blood. Tom Hughes, who plays Clive is one of the newbies. Home from Uni it is his mum Jayne Hughes brought him along.
“ I have never done anything like this before,” he tells me, “but Mum said they needed a young man, so here I am.”
Someone shouts out that Jayne is their recruiter. She laughs. In real life, she is a nurse but tonight she is a convincingly drunken Phyllis “ We have made strong friendships here and often meet up for social events like cinema.” She explains.
That’s exactly what Laura Müller who didn’t know many people before she moved here, was looking for. She has a background in ballet and choirs and discovered the company when she auditioned for the panto. She is playing Pattie.
Emma Williams who has been involved with the group for 5 or 6 years is ‘Sugar Plum Entertainment’ in her real life, spending her days at Bluestone entertaining the children. This year she is Rachel.
It is more usual to find Ed Heritage on the recording side of the arts. Photography is his business Heritage Stwdio. He laughingly says he was involved in Brassed Off but has had his arm twisted to play Bernard now.
Allan Cresswell, on the other hand, is another old hand. Roped in to play the Dame in panto over 7 years ago, the rest of the cast insist he can walk better in heels than most women. Apart from running Cresswells café where the cast do their read-throughs, he is playing Neville in this latest endeavour. It’s a long way from his early career as a Bluecoat at Weston Super Mare’s sand bay resort and he clearly loves every minute of it.
Marian (as in Maid Marian, I am informed) is here, reading in for those who can’t be here tonight. Alison Leighton who is playing Belinda and Gethin Morris who is playing Eddie. Her expertise after 30 years in the business is invaluable. As is Jenny Andrews who says she was asked to prompt 29 years ago and hasn’t been able to escape yet.
Jana Davidson’s son Finlay, is the youngest member of the company. His mum who has 39 years in theatre, laughingly insists she didn’t force him to join and he does seem very happy to take on the challenge of playing Harvey, the oldest character in the play. He saw a poster for panto over 7 years ago and has been involved ever since.
What do they all get out of being here?
Jana asks “Who was it who said we spend more time with each other than we do at home?”
They all loudly agree.
“ It’s a great group,” she tells me, we have made some lovely friendships here as well as challenging ourselves to come up with new and interesting theatre.”
Seasons Greetings will be at Theatr Gwaun on Friday the 6th and Saturday 7th of December.
To join Best Foot Forward: Go to their Facebook page – Best Foot Forward Drama Company or email firstname.lastname@example.org