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Tomato soup and the Bard

PUBLISHED: 17:44 17 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:09 11 August 2010

It seems strange that a superb tradition of Shakespearean comedies in Romford, is also linked to personal recollections of tomato soup . After 47 productions of the Bard s work, Romford Summer Theatre s (RST) annual performances over the years have becom

It seems strange that a superb tradition of Shakespearean comedies in Romford, is also linked to personal recollections of 'tomato soup'.

After 47 productions of the Bard's work, Romford Summer Theatre's (RST) annual performances over the years have become part of the local heritage, and are fondly remembered for their quality of acting, excellent costumes as well as the warming cup of hot interval soup.

Prepared by Con Chandler, one of the founders of the group almost a half century ago, she is still actively involved with the costumes for each production as well.

A regular patron of the event, Chris Cole said: "The productions are magnificent and there is something from each that people remember.

"Over the years the weather has been unpredictable, but, warm or windy, we all looked forward to Con's reviving interval soup."

The current production, All's Well That Ends Well, played to capacity audiences last week, and continues tomorrow night (Thursday) through to Saturday.

Director Vernon Keeble-Watson has spent the last two months honing his actors and challenging them to give their best performances, and I should know all about it, as I am well and truly involved, but more of that later.

Vernon said as the first night finished: "It was very pleasing and all the actors' hard work paid off.

"This is a very funny play and has some brilliant scenes, and the general reaction of the audience was as we had all hoped. Lots of laughter and applause."

The leading characters, Will Fox and Jessica Randell are comparative newcomers to the company, but have shown the skill in the casting by making their roles memorable.

Will from Brentwood plays Bertram, the love target of Apothecary's daughter, Helena.

Both skillfully create the theme of misunderstanding usual in Shakespeare plays, though this story throws up a real villain called Parolles, superbly captured by Darren Matthews.

Darren has appeared in many productions and certainly excels in this role as the swashbuckling, womanising coward who betrays all to save his life.

It is a masterful performance by the Havering teacher, who will be remembered for this skilful piece of work.

However, with such a large cast of RST regulars, there are plenty of superb cameo performances to enjoy.

Lauren Bracewell plays Diana, the object of Bertram's lust, though he is fooled by her in a web of intrigue that almost gets him thrown into prison by the King of France.

Played by James Rimell, a stalwart who has appeared in all but one of the RST productions. A former teacher, he is everyone's idea of a Shakespearean actor, precise, articulate, and very watchable.

Another notable performance is given by Bob Etherton as the Duke of Florence. Somewhat limp-wristed, the Duke has an eye for the soldiers, and Bob's brilliant portrayal had the gallery howling with laughter.

Other regulars include Lindsay Hollingsworth, Peter Farenden, Graham Poulteney, Graham Slayford, Lyn Pollitt, Kathryn Waters, John Lester, Dawn Cook and Roy Hobson.

Tickets are available at the gate for this Thursday to Saturday performances and are £7.50.

As for me, well, playing the role of 'Interpreter', an Italian soldier wearing a bright orange doublet, bright red pantaloons, red tights and festooned with feathers, has been a challenge I have to say.

The performance is another 'feather' in the cap of the Romford Summer Theatre, and there are plenty of those on show. The acting quality and attention to detail has been maintained and that goes for the soup as well.


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