Hospital Players return with hilarious comedy
The Merry Widower, Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd October 2021, 7.30pm at the Plowright Theatre, Scunthorpe.
Scunthorpe-based drama group The Hospital Players are busy preparing to stage their first play at the town’s Plowright Theatre in almost 2 years.
The Hospital Players are Scunthorpe’s oldest amateur dramatics group, set up in 1943 by firewatchers based at the local hospital. Their job was to keep watch for falling bombs during air raids and put out any fires. Luckily Scunthorpe escaped the worst of the bombing and so the firewatchers started reading scripts to pass the time. Eventually they decided – along with friends and associates – to stage a play at the local theatre to raise money for the hospital.
Early shows were presented in school and church halls until the Civic Theatre (later renamed the Plowright) opened in 1958. Ever since then, The Hospital Players have presented 3 plays a year at the popular venue, regularly attracting audiences of up to 1000 people per week.
That is until last year. After a successful production of the holiday comedy Heatstroke in January 2020, rehearsals were in full swing for a whodunnit titled Who Dies Wins, planned to be staged in April 2020. But with less than a month to go, the show had to be cancelled as the country went into lockdown.
“It was a very difficult time,” remembers Hospital Players secretary, Jake West. “Not only were we incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the show so close to going on, but the group is such an important part of our social lives and we missed being able to spend time together.”
“We’ve endured the past 18 months as best we could,” explains Jan Gregory, the group’s chairperson. “We’ve kept in touch by phone and gone for walks, met online and in people’s gardens, read plays and had little social gatherings when we were allowed. But now we are raring to go!”
With the Plowright Theatre now having reopened, The Hospital Players have spent the last few months rehearsing The Merry Widower, a comedy by Simon Moss. The play features Thomas (played by Andy Pontin), a loveable rogue who likes a drink almost as much as he likes the ladies. His wife wore the trousers and controlled the purse strings, but now she has passed away Thomas is determined to paint the town red. He goes to stay with his son Richard and daughter-in-law Harriet (Jake West and Joanna Stothard) in their London flat, but he’s barely unpacked his suitcase before he manages to outstay his welcome and cause mayhem. The cast is rounded off by Chloe Harvey as good-time girl Elaine, Rachael McLean as prim and proper Sharon and Stacy Johnson as Sharon’s stern Aunt Agatha.
The play is being directed by Mick Metcalfe, who says: “The Merry Widower is a hilarious comedy. We’ve laughed all the way through rehearsals, and we know what’s coming next – well, most of the time!”
“We get as huge a buzz putting on shows as the audience hopefully gets from supporting us and coming to see our plays. We can’t wait to give people an enjoyable night out at what will hopefully be the first of many shows back at the Plowright.”
The Hospital Players will present The Merry Widower at Scunthorpe’s Plowright Theatre from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd October, 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 each but you can order 2 for £12.75.