Who better to stage am-dram comedy A Bunch Of Amateurs than the Stockton Foresters’ very own bunch of amateurs!

Karen Ilsley, as Dorothy Nettle, and Stuart Leeming, as Jefferson Steel, in rehearsal for the Stockton Foresters’ May production of A Bunch Of Amateurs

THE Stockton Foresters’ first full-scale production post-lockdown will be Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s A Bunch Of Amateurs.

This two-act comedy will be staged at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, from May 12 to 14 at 7.30pm.

The Stockton Foresters trod the boards carefully with a reduced-capacity audience when presenting three one-act plays last November, but now they are back in force.

The group played regularly to full houses before the pandemic struck and hopes A Bunch Of Amateurs will do likewise with its storyline of an amateur dramatic group’s determination to overcome all odds to stave off closure.

Holly Smith, left, Stuart Leeming and Karen Ilsley look askance in the Stockton Foresters’ rehearsal room

Written by two of the original Spitting Image writers, this fast-paced, sharp-edged comedy is performed frequently on the amateur circuit, while the film version starred Imelda Staunton, Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Burt Reynolds.

Louisa Littler’s cast comprises Stuart Leeming as Jefferson Steel; Karen Ilsley as Dorothy Nettle; Holly Smith as Jessica Steel; Russell Dowson as Nigel Dewbury; Jane Palmer as Mary Plunkett; Peter Keen as Denis Dobbins and Lynne Edwards as Lauren Bell.

The play’s theme resonates with director Louisa Littler, who says: “It has not been without its own real-life dramas that the Stockton Foresters have brought together their first full-length play since lockdown: a comedy about a local theatre and its struggle for survival that will have audiences hugely entertained.  

“Our group has a reputation for putting on amateur productions of the highest standard and this show certainly won’t disappoint. As the lead character declares, ‘Let’s show ‘em what a bunch of amateurs can do’!” 

If the crown/veil/hat fits: Stuart Leeming, (left), Holly Smith, Peter Keen, Jane Palmer and Karen Ilsley rehearsing a scene from A Bunch Of Amateurs

The Stockton Foresters are “really proud to have kept going throughout the past couple of very difficult years”. Weekly Zoom meetings and quizzes with banter and fun aplenty have ensured the group has survived and thrived.

“We’ve even managed to recruit several new members, which is testament to our reputation and determination to continue,” says Louisa.

Tickets must be pre-booked, available at £8.50 from Stockton on the Forest Village Shop, on 01904 400583 or by emailing dramastockton@gmail.com. “We’ll be offering a wine/juice/beer bar and our ever-popular raffle,” says Louisa. “There’s plenty of free parking at the venue, just behind the village hall.”

Please note, A Bunch Of Amateurs contains strong language.