Autumn production 2015




Breath of Spring


By Peter Coke


Directed by Judith Shingler




 Playing at the Kelsick Centre for 5 nights from Tuesday 27th to Saturday 31st October


 Bar opens at 7.00pm. Main Hall doors open at 7.30pm



 Watch the play, Click here.

When Dame Beatrice is given a mink stole by her maid, she is reminded of the maid's shady past and immediately suspects that it was stolen from the next flat. A former army officer and other lodgers endeavour to return the stole. The plan is devised with care and all of them take such delight in the secretive scheme that they wonder why they don't do this more often. They form a syndicate for stealing and returning furs. Everything goes well until a loss is reported and the police come charging in. The maid is horrified to discover what has been going on behind her back, but agrees to employ her talents to bail the amateurs out of trouble if they agree to never touch another fur. She succeeds, the police leave, and life returns to its humdrum ways until someone remembers that it was only furs they had promised not to touch!


Review by Jane Ranouf for the Westmorland Gazette

Breath of Spring, Kelsick Hall, Ambleside

AMBLESIDE Players’ recent production of Breath of Spring once again proved the popularity of live amateur theatre, packing the Kelsick Hall over five consecutive nights and transporting audiences back to the the far-off fifties – to an era when maids still answered the door, and a mink coat was the ultimate symbol of wealth and sophistication in London society.

Peter Coke’s play was a West End hit in 1958, portraying Dame Beatrice and her lodgers - a posse of posh but impoverished ‘paying guests’ who hit on a novel way of making money while discovering what jolly good fun it is to be criminals. After learning how easy it was to snaffle a fur coat or two carelessly left unattended in shops or cafes, they set about their unlikely new career, selling off the stolen goods to donate the proceeds anonymously to assist similarly impoverished friends.

The audience soon warmed to the idea, and the occasional fluffed line or missed cue was easily absorbed in a light-hearted comedy of errors. Led by ex-military man Brigadier Albert Rayne, played with comic gusto by Barry Porter, the team of lady thieves are drilled with military precision to ever more audacious heists. The versatile Tricia Donson, playing voice coach Miss Nan Parry, displayed an impressive range of accents in a sure-footed performance, and Christine Wright’s wickedly mischievous Alice, Lady Miller swirled elegantly through the comedy like cream on coffee. Moira Rowlinson was a very assured Dame Beatrice, in nice contrast to Esther Potts’s nerve-wracked Miss Hatfield who quivered and quaked with alarming realism. Lily, the knowing-but-kindly maid played by Judith St Claire represented the lower orders in society, while using her superior wit as an experienced thief to save her witless employers from stumbling into the arms of the law. Scotland Yard officers, played by Steve Donson and Anna Williamson-Karasz eventually come to call, but the unsuspecting officers leave, none the wiser, and the genteel gang get away with it.

Hats off and three cheers for director Judith Shingler and producer Marj Waddecar and the entire cast, for making time in their busy lives to entertain Ambleside and give everyone a taste of live drama.

Jane Renouf