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The Watsons

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The Watsons by Laura Wade was directed by Rebecca Dallaway. It was performed at the Brockley Jack, from the 23rd to the 27th April 2024


Behind the Scenes


Director: Rebecca Dallaway

Production Manager: Rebecca Dallaway & Elisabeth Holden

Stage Manager: Elisabeth Holden

Assist. Stage Manager & Props: Gill Daly

Lighting Designer: Fintan Davies

Sound Designer: James Brown

Lighting and Sound Operator: Anne-Lise Vassoille

Fight Director: Steve Borrie

Choreography: Chloe Penfold

Costume: Judy Douglas with assistance from Jane Jones

Hair and make-up: The cast with assistance from Denise Biffin

Poster Design: Clarisse Hassan



Emma Watson: Charlotte Holmes

Elisabeth Watson: Bethan Coulbeck

Margaret Watson: Michelle Cathcart

Robert Watson: Ed Beesley

Mrs Robert: Kate Boydell

Mr Waston: Steve Borrie

Nanny: Louise Norman

Tom MusgraveMark Kelleher

Lord Osborne: Callum Macphee

Lady Osborne: Sheree Clapperton

Miss Osborne: Hannah Sanderson

Mr Howard: Matt Owen

Charles Howard: Holly W-o

Mrs Edwards: Tracy Brook

Mr Edwards: Roger Orr

Captain 'Bertie' Beresford: Jude Marriott

Laura: Jacq Ellis Jones

Officers/Ball guests: Elisabeth Holden, Gill Dally and other members of the Company


by Paul Sykes and Severine Powell

It might be a fair statement to say that Rebecca Dallaway was born three hundred years too late!  Judging by two of the plays we have seen her direct; ‘Pride and Prejudice’, in 2020, and now ‘The Watsons’, her forte is the Georgian period of British history.  This latest production presents the audience with a view of what might have happened in Jane Austin’s unfinished novel about Emma Watson.  The central premise is that the play’s author, Laura Wade, interposes herself as a character in the play itself to explore what might have become of the characters. It’s a fascinating idea and under Rebecca’s adept direction, the audience is treated to a memorable play.

For those of the Players who did not see the play, it’s worth noting that we were being hosted by The Brockley Jack’s theatre.  This was our first use of the venue – a smaller stage, smaller audience capacity, and a new layout to contend with.  Nevertheless, entrances and exits were seamlessly accomplished and the 19 members of the cast – sometimes all on stage together – never seemed crowded. 

This was a magnificent ensemble piece and there were no weak performances.  In fact, there were many standout performances.  Charlotte Holmes, as the heroine of the play, Emma Watson, gave the best performance in her short time with the Players.  Charlotte and the cast had worked hard to master the social etiquette of the Georgians and it paid off handsomely. We were privileged to see performances from a number of new members, Bethan Coulbeck, as Elizabeth Watson, Holly W-o, as Master Charles Howard, Hannah Sanderson as Miss Osborne, and Jude Marriot as Captain Beresford.  They all acted with great self-assurance and embraced their characters with great aplomb.  I hope we see them again in future productions. A DP newcomer, Callum Macphee, was mesmerising as the socially awkward Lord Osborne.  His was a truly scene-stealing performance. Whether he was speaking or simply looking on, it was hard not to enthralled by his stage presence.  Another newcomer is Jacq Ellis Jones as Laura, the play’s author and a key character in the play. For someone who has not been on stage for many years, she gave a strong, confident and convincing performance as someone losing control of her creation. 


There is always a villainous figure - a Cad/Bounder - to be found in these Georgian-period stories and who better to take on this role than the talented Mr Mark Kelleher.  His portrayal of Tom Musgrave, a womanising dandy, was joyful to watch; a real treat for the audience.

Making a welcome return to the stage was Kate Boydell whose snobbish Mrs Robert was a tour de force and was obviously a role she relished.  Louise Norman played the worldy-wise domestic servant and unleashed her West country accent to great effect. It was lovely to see her and Sheree Clapperton develop a deep and meaningful relationship on stage between characters at either end of the social spectrum. Of all the characters, Sheree literally sparkled in jewellery and obviously thoroughly enjoyed portraying an outwardly haughty member of the aristocracy. 

Another notable performance was given by Michelle Cathcart playing Emma's shameless, naughty sister. It was undoubtedly one of her best performances with the Dulwich Players.

To say that Steve Borrie corpsed on stage would ordinarily have brought a gasp from the audience but in 'The Watsons' his bed-bound Mr Watson who finally passes away drew admiration for his stillness. As an audience member, there is an almost irresistible fascination in watching to see if you can spot the breathing or twitching of a 'corpse' on stage but Mr Borrie proved a great stiff!

Continuing the theme of controlled performances, Ed Beesley, as Mr Robert Watson, and Matt Owen, as the cleric Mr Howard, both gave assured performances and typified the cast's ability to adapt to the physical mannerisms of Georgian gentlemen.  Those 'Evergreens' of the DPs, Roger Orr and Tracy Brook, were delightful as Mr and Mrs Edwards and bravo to Tracy for joining the dance routines after her leg injury. Roger may not have had any lines but he always provides a reassuring presence on stage - he is an actor who does not get distracted and concentrates on his role and reacting to the action around him. In fact, the whole cast should be commended for their reactions to what was going on stage. It is tempting to fall out of character when not directly involved in the action and there wasn’t a hint of that in this production.

The DP's love a dance and a huge round of applause needs to go to Chloe Penfold for some of the best dancing we have seen in any production: from Georgian elegance to some modern ‘thingy’. The first dance, woven in with the dialogue and continued action of the play was a real highlight – it showed vision and great coordination from all involved. The more modern dance was a surprise and had them all moving like Space Invaders (for those old enough to remember those little critters) but was beautifully choreographed and performed in the restricted space. Somewhat oddly, a special mention should be given here to the choreography of the fight scene. While we would question the need for the Napoleonic scene, the very clever use of the existing furniture on the stage and the convincing fighting formation was inspired. Well done, Steve!

Credit must go to the backstage crew. Not only did Gill Daly and Elizabeth Holden ensure that scene changes ran like clockwork, but they also appeared as characters on stage throughout the play which is no mean feat in a fast-moving play. 

Period drama, no matter how well acted or directed requires great costumes if it’s going to succeed; thanks to Judy Douglas's attention to detail and her monumental hard work, everyone looked just as they should - well done Judy. Of course, the finished polished appearance was achieved, as ever, by Denise Biffin with her make-up and hairbrush.

Despite being in a new venue, the lighting and sound team worked their usual wonders and the fact that we barely noticed the light changes and sound effects which is how it should be. We understand that Friday’s performance did experience a technical glitch but the team, cast and crew showed true professionalism and ‘normal service’ was quickly resumed. 

If there is one criticism it is that the play would have lost nothing if we had been able to expunge the scene involving a telephone and Napoleon (it would be too long to explain if you didn’t see it).  Sadly, copyright prevents this but the play would have lost nothing by its loss. 

Overall, a great, nay, a wonderful, ensemble production and a venue that we are bound to return to for future productions.

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