Photos Reviews

Sing Cuckoo

May 2002

by Nick Jones, directed by Nick Jones


Chloe Bardolf-Smith -

David Batty -

Tim Burgess -

Maggie Butt -

Alan Caig -

Gordon Halliday -

Jean Halliday -

Rob Hole -

Eric Hume -

Sue Jacob -

Mary Jones -

John Marshall -

Roger Mathewson -

Anthony Morris -

Keith Palmer -

Cally Pettit -

Sally Roberts -

Cass Thorne -

Helen Turner -

Sheila Wall -

Pippa Warin -

Production Team:

Fiddle - John Bickford

Fiddle - Jane Cope

Melodeon - Bob Powell

Director - Nick Jones

Music - John Bickford

Design - Philip Keen

Wardrobe - Isla Morgan

Props - Jean Holiday & Jenny Hiley

Lighting - Stuart Yerrell & Aleksis Gailans

Sound - Ron Murray & Nigel Albright

Publicity - Sheila Wall

Front of House - Lynn Trout


From Estuary News:

...a highly professional, delightful, witty, thoughtful evening...

Was it a Bird?

Way back in the heyday of the humorous magazine Punch, I remember seeing a cartoon featuring two worthy, elderly examiners of London University strolling in Regents Park early one April morning. Upon hearing a cuckoo calling out from a nearby tree, the first examiner quotes 'Oh Cuckoo shall I call thee bird, or but a wandering voice?'. Whereupon the second examiner says 'State the alternative preferred. Give reasons for your choice'.

I was reminded of that witty rejoinder at last night's performance of of Sing Cuckoo by Estuary Players at Matthews Hall. As we were informed in the programme, all the stories that we saw acted by the Players that night originated from oral tradition and were from an assembly of British Folk Tales collected together in the early 1900s but went much further back in our history than that.

The programme comprised some 16 episodes in all and might easily have resulted in a loose, disjointed compilation of tales and humourous episodes of country life without any clear form or order or lasting sense of observation. In Nick Jones' clever writing and direction, however, we had nothing to worry about on that score. Sing Cuckoo was a triumphant assembly of humour, talent and clever acting skills well shared by a large cast of 21 people presenting a wide selection of deceptively simple tales and human experiences - poverty, marriage, foolishness ( in the endearing noodle tradition) and basic sense of loss.

It was a rewarding, delightful evening of entertainment and communal skill in presentation, yet with a deep lasting sense that like many of the erstwhile simple stories, there was something far deeper, more penetrating under the surface, waiting to emerge at a later time.

With such a talented assembly of actors, it would be impossible for me to aclaim any individual performances above the rest but that says much for the success of the evening. Let the lasting images of that wonderful magpie marionette, the all-revealing promiscuous pear-tree and that enchanting unheavenly angel bear the brunt of my total enjoyment - like that of the Friday night audience of which I was part.

The staging, the simple set, the green carpet, the hanging screen with the cunning, beautiful wood-cut projections, were a startlingly effective background. The props, minimal but totally essential to the performance, were perfect as were the costumes. We commented on the evening that all the actors looked as if they had been dressed from the same communal costume-hamper, praise indeed for the unobtrusive, general flavour of the show.

The music, of course, was so much a part of the evening. The lovely singing voice of Sally Roberts and John Bickford, Jane Cope and Bob Powell as musicians were an essential ingredient - sympathetic, warm, yet totally self-effacing in the nature of the production in which they were part.

Well done all of you! I enjoyed the experience immensely. It was a highly professional, delightful, witty, thoughtful evening with an assembly of Topsham talent that will last in our minds. As for Nick Jones, how very fortunate we are, here in the town, to have someone of his tremendous talent here at hand when we need him. It was a part-lottery grant very well spent in this case.

To return to my opening image of the Punch cartoon, Sing Cuckoo, as performed by the Estuary Players was anything but a 'wandering voice'. As it was conceived and acted, it turned out to be a bird of considerable presence and sweet voice.

- Reviewed by: Gryff


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