17 actors, 2 plays and 1 coach to Glossop. Not quite Wimbledon but
Altrincham theatre group ACTS hit a hat trick of theatre silverware with
their recent Wilmslow and GMDF festival wins.
This was the last opportunity to see two contrasting performances of
classic comedy and old fashioned melodrama. And reality mimics fiction as
Stephen Preston, as Bowler, pips Oliver Dillon, as Silas Snaker, to win
the Best Youth Actor trophy. A sublime performance where Stephen’s
facial expressions were in harmony with the whole cast supporting each
The Junior actors in ‘Hiss the Villain’ had recently won the Syd Mence
Cup for a Piece of Theatre Magic on 15th June at the Wilmslow One Act
Play Festival. They had already taken the Best Production and Best
Performance (by Stephen Preston as Bowler) at the Greater Manchester
Drama Federation 59th One Act festival the previous week.
The Youth section won Best Production and Best Individual Performance
for the comedy ‘Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations’ at Wilmslow, probably
Alan Ayckbourn’s most performed play.
“When you connect to a moment that you won’t forget, that’s theatre
magic … and for a play rather than one actor to be recognised is
really special”, explained director and Head Tutor Valerie Harris. “It
was the opportunity to showcase local young people in a rare genre of
theatre. It was lovely that the packed house responded just like the
Victorian audiences. It’s not pantomime but people can hiss at the
villain and cheer the good guys.”
The Victorian melodrama ‘Hiss the Villain’ delivers exactly what the
title promises. Stephen Preston, as Bowler the repentant clerk, faces
off against the infamous banker Silas Snaker. With fellow actors Oliver
Dillon, Elena Harrison, Sanna Idris, Jennifer Mullally, Adam Passey and
Jake Scott, the audience are taken on a journey of misadventure, plot
twists and unexpected revelations.
Oliver Dillon, as the infamous banker Silas Snaker, is the archetypal
villain whose stage entrance is invariably announced with a pounding
piano track. He has tricked Captain Noble, played by Jake Scott, out of
his life savings which leaves his family penniless. While Jake only has
a cameo part, he does reappear throughout the remainder of the play in a
Valerie added “The atmosphere of the Victorian era is captured with
relevant music, accurate costumes and props. The melodrama sounds
serious but the audience get involved with lots of laughter.”
Jennifer Mullally and Sanna Idris, as Mrs Noble and her daughter Miss
Lucy, provide the emotional back drop to the play with a flood of tears
and self sacrifice. But there is humour too, with a running gag line
which the audience catch onto very quickly.
And help is at hand from Elena Harrison as the son Percy Noble and Adam
Passey as Lucy’s long lost friend Harold. Throughout, the actors meet
the challenge of a split stage scene, breaking the fourth wall and
managing audience participation.