Company of Ten's A Bunch of Amateurs production 'milks the comedy for all its worth' at the Abbey Theatre

Russell Vincent as Jefferson in A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Russell Vincent as Jefferson in A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Iain Robertson / Abbey Theatre

Madeleine Burton reviews Company of Ten's production of A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Iain Robertson / Abbey Theatre

Plant an egocentric, self-obsessed movie star in an amateur dramatic company and you have the recipe for a very funny play.

That is the essence of A Bunch of Amateurs, currently being performed by the Company of Ten on the stage of the Abbey Theatre.

Written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, it is about as likely as Brad Pitt treading the Abbey Theatre boards but is probably what many long-suffering agents would like to do to their demanding clients.

And what amateur theatre company could resist a play about a struggling amateur theatre company putting on King Lear in a bid to survive.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Iain Robertson / Abbey Theatre

Enter washed-up Hollywood star Jefferson Steele who thinks he is performing with the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon, not in the village of Stratford St John in Suffolk.

And while at the heart of the play is Jefferson’s Damascene conversion from narcissistic bighead to a fully-functioning human being, it would be nothing without dollops of humour.

Most Read

Director Angela Stone goes to great lengths to ensure that the production milks the comedy for all its worth and she certainly succeeds.

That aim is helped in no small part by the casting of Company of Ten veteran Russell Vincent as Jefferson.

Russell Vincent as Jefferson in A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

Russell Vincent as Jefferson in A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Iain Robertson / Abbey Theatre

To say that he dominates the stage when he appears is an understatement but that is exactly how the character has to be.

Loud mouthed and hugely in love with himself, he is in stark contrast to patient director Dorothy and her team of actors.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Iain Robertson / Abbey Theatre

Lianne Weidmann is a very likeable Dorothy and Tim Pemberton gives a particularly accomplished performance as Nigel, the actor who believes he should have had the starring role in King Lear.

Katherine Barry is well cast as the buttoned-up Mary and it was a pleasure to see John Pyke back on the Abbey Theatre stage as Denis.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

A Bunch of Amateurs at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans. - Credit: Iain Robertson / Abbey Theatre

Rachel Cosgrove and Molly Luwero complete a very capable cast.

A Bunch of Amateurs runs until Saturday, May 21 and tickets for a very entertaining evening can be obtained from www.abbeytheatre.org.uk