You may have seen Alan Bailey in his Scrooge guise in the Combe Christmas promotional video here. If so, you will have had a taster of his performance. It goes without saying that this role is absolutely crucial to the play and, had the actor playing it been unconvincing, even the greatest of actors in supporting roles could not have saved it. Fortunately, Alan Bailey was well up to the task, going from abrupt, mean, cruel and downright nasty through most of the play to reminiscing and puzzled to generous as Marley’s Ghost (Tony Seymour) and the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Joanie Baxendale), Christmas Present (Jordan Buckingham – on stilts!) and Christmas Yet-to-be (Elizabeth Kemp) took him through his life, in Christmases that had been, that were now and that might yet be.
Mentioning Elizabeth Kemp reminds me that, this being an amateur production, several of the actors took more than one part. Elizabeth, for example, also played a character somewhat cruelly listed as “Blind Hag”. Morton Tooley was Young Marley, but also a charity collector and, unless the collector had spent the money he collected on the demon drink, he also played a third character, a drunk. Another Tooley, Oliver Tooley, played two small parts (the Beadle and Old Joe). In addition to his talents as an actor, Oliver is also a DJ and an author – I have mentioned his Children of the Wise Oak before (now available from Amazon for the Kindle at £3.99 or free if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited).
Another major part was that of Bob Cratchit (Billy Buckingham), who had to be cowed in the presence of Scrooge, strong provider and paterfamilias in the presence of his family and confused when Scrooge and family got together.
And then there was Tiny Tim (Niamh Gallagher), relentlessly cheerful, he remembered always which was his crippled leg, a feat that has sometimes deserted professional actors!
A special mention for Neil Rudd and Debbie Hadley as Mr & Mrs Fezziwig whose larger-than-life presence fuelled what looked like a grand party!
I should also mention Lee Baxendale, the director and conductor of the orchestra, and Carol Turner, choreographer.
All in all, it was a superb performance. Sadly, if you have not seen it, you have missed it, but keep an eye out for the next Small Pond Production.
Santa’s trek around Ilfracombe begins (or began) on Tuesday 6th December. The plan is to travel around on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week until Christmas. Please follow Santa on the Santa visits Ilfracombe Facebook page.
Every child will be given a sweet or sweets or a small token present. There will be no charge, although, if you wish to make a donation (and there is absolutely no obligation), there will be buckets available. Any money collected will go towards the Christmas lights.
In 2010 the Health Select Committee found that running the NHS as a ‘market’ cost the NHS 14% of its budget a year. The Select Committee noted that the NHS would have some administration expenses even if it didn’t run itself as a ‘market’. But they noted evidence from the NHS Chief Historian, Professor Charles Webster that in the pre-market late-80s, the NHS spent only 5% of its budget on administration. The difference in administration costs pre- and post-market - 9% of the NHS budget - is over £10billion a year of the current £120bn budget. That’s more than the entire cost of every GP in the land. So, what is the priority? Having an internal healthcare market, or the health of the nation? (see billions-of-wasted-nhs-cash-noone-wants-to-mention).
If you feel as strongly about the NHS as I do, please take a look at the Save Our Hospital Services website (www.sohs.org.uk).
And finally, an opportunity to help the Ilfracombe Museum. Please follow this link and vote for the Museum. Don't forget to share the link with your friends, and please note it is one vote per email address each week.