Alternating plays with Chaucer

L-R ' Jeanette Broad, Sam Sampson, Diane Ellis, Mike Palmer and Terry Moore rehearsing The Merchant's Tale
L-R ' Jeanette Broad, Sam Sampson, Diane Ellis, Mike Palmer and Terry Moore rehearsing The Merchant's Tale
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Putting on a series of performances for an amateur dramatics group can be tough. With getting a cast together, sorting out costumes and a venue, and the constant rehearsals, it’s not an easy task.

But HumDrum has taken its production one step further and is performing two plays on alternate nights next week at The Spring, Havant with Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

Taken from the RSC adaptation, the plays centres around tales told by a motley crew of men and women during a pilgrimage to Canterbury in the 14th century.

Based on Nevill Coghill’s modern English version, HumDrum is even using two different directors for the productions, with artistic director James George and Gemma Valler taking it un turns.

James says: ‘I reviewed it two years ago and fell in love with it. It has a brilliant script. It doesn’t include them all otherwise you’d be on stage for about 12 hours, but it has the more famous stories and you don’t have to see both of them. One on their own still works.’

The productions has a cast of 22 actors, including 2010 Guide Award winners from HumDrum’s Carry On style production, Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle And Dick – Best Actor Lewis Bailey and Best Actress Helen Stoddart.

James says: ‘It’s a good mix of comedy, moral and tragedy. It’s said all human life is in Shakespeare, and that’s true – but it’s in Chaucer too.

The production consists of two plays and James and Gemma began by directing separate tales. Then, as rehearsals progressed, they collaborated more closely.

Other performers include Jeanette Broad as the Wife of Bath, Mike Palmer as Chaucer, Peter Colley as host of the Tabard Inn where the pilgrimage begins, and Sam Sampson and Stephen Ward.

The production also features music especially written by HumDrum stalwart, James Cross.

James says: ‘We’re really pleased with it. It has a medieval sound and feel.’

The two plays will be staged at The Spring, Havant, on alternate days from Monday to Saturday, July 2-7 (7.30pm). Anyone buying a ticket for Play One can buy a ticket for Play Two at half-price.

Tickets cost £7 to £8 from The Spring, Havant on (023) 9247 2700 or go to thespring.co.uk.