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Petworth Players get ready for 'A Bunch of Amateurs'
Petworth Players get ready for 'A Bunch of Amateurs'

The Petworth Players are hoping to drum up support for their latest show, as members warn the group of more than 50 years is ‘dwindling’.

‘A Bunch of Amateurs’ tells the comic story of Hollywood action hero Jefferson Steel trying to overcome his ego in a quiet village, where an acting group is trying to save their theatre from closing.

Chairman Rob Sadler said the play wasn’t picked for its subject but it was ‘quite apt’, given the pressures the group was facing, and he hoped it could keep going.

He said: “It’s just costs keep rising and interest in the group seems to be fading.

“I don’t know if that’s a modern thing, people on iPads and so on.

“If we can’t get our audience numbers up, I’m not saying it’s going to fold but it is difficult.”

He said the group had become ‘quite an institution’ in Petworth since it started in 1956 and it still welcomed members of all ages for acting or technical roles, as well as help with front of house.

“My mother-in-law was one of the founding members and she was only about 12 when she took to the stage,” he said.

“We just feel it would be so sad to let it dwindle away and we just keep going as long as we can.”

The new comedy show will run on April 19, 20 and 21 at the Herbert Shiner Centre, with performances starting at 7.30pm.

Strong language means the performance is marked for adults but Mr Sadler said it looked set to be a ‘great show’ with twists and turns and laugh-out-loud moments.

The story follows Jefferson Steel, who thinks he has been selected to play King Lear in Stratford but instead finds himself in the smaller and less flashy village of Stratford in Suffolk.

Instead of Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench, the cast are a bunch of amateurs from the local community.

Jefferson’s monstrous ego, vanity and insecurity are tested to the limit by the enthusiastic am-dram thespians but in the process he discovers some truths about himself, along with his inner Lear.

Howard Cronshaw will play Jefferson Steel, with other roles to be played by Morag Cronshaw, Andrew Brooke, Ruth Till, Jez Ellis, Claire Sadler and Lilly Baker.

Tickets cost £10, available from Bay Tree Bakery, Petworth, or via www.petworthplayers.co.uk