The Old Curiosity Shop - The Castle Players. Photo Credit Helen Brown
The Old Curiosity Shop - The Castle Players. Photo Credit Helen Brown

THE CASTLE Players are renowned for their lavish outdoor productions in the grounds of The Bowes Museum, where they enjoy the large outdoor space. During the winter, they move indoors and take to the stages of the local Village Halls, which are certainly different and varied in size.

With Gordon Duffy-McGhie at the helm as director, his choice of Stewart Howson’s performance adaptation of Dicken’s The Old Curiosity Shop is inspired. It is one of the most perfect productions for this talented company from the physical theatre, comedy and characterisation. The cast of eight work tirelessly for two hours taking us on a journey through Victorian England, they tell the story of Nell Trent, Janie Caldbeck, and her grandfather, Andy Moorhouse, whose gambling has led to their financial ruin. It is from here that the eight actors present an array of Dickensian characters to perfection.

Janie Caldbeck slips with ease between Little Nell and the evil Quilp. Andy Moorhouse switches between the Grandfather and the Single Gentleman with some delightful characterisation. Sarah Fells as Dick Swiveller commands the stage with one of the best performances I have seen her produce, full of energy, drawing the audience in with every movement. Lois Falshaw excels playing the contrasting Kit Nubbles and The Marchioness. Charlotte Perkins plays Sally Brass and Mrs Jarley showing an excellent use of accents and as part of the Chorus was one of the best trees you will see. Harry French, Peter Firby and Amanda Falshaw complete this talented cast with superb timing, filling the stage with action ensuring swift pace throughout.

The set comprises of a central revolving wardrobe, which ingeniously creates all manner of scenes from doorways, to a bed and best of all, the Punch and Judy scene, perfectly executed.

I feel as if I should say you won’t see a better production from The Castle Players, but they are about to start on The Comedy of Errors for their summer production, so I better wait and see! 

The final shows are at Whorlton Village Hall on Friday 14th February, 19:30 and Cotherstone Village Hall on Sunday 16th February, 15:00.