Masque Theatre Playwriting Competition 2012



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in Northampton since 1932

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Page last updated: 15/03/2013 Masque Theatre © 2013

by Heather Dunmore

Production Nos. 394 & 395

More images from Margot & Clear Heels


To mark its 80th Anniversary, Masque Theatre has held a One Act Play Writing Competition which was open to all writers in the UK.

Selected from 30 competition submissions, the two winning entries are Margot by Heather Dunmore and Clear Heels by Amiee Albiston.

Preview by Rob Kendall, director

Having a "true story" as your hook line is always fascinating. Not more so when I’m of an age when I remember the famous incident in Paris in 1961 of Nureyev’s defectionfrom the Kirov ballet, which was captured in black and white, of course, on the worlds television cameras.

His subsequent arrival in Britain to dance with Margot Fonteyn thanks to Madam de Valois, the director of the Royal Ballet, is equally well remembered given the amount of newspaper and television coverage and a real coup in the Cold War stakes.

However, what is really intriguing in the play Margot is the romance between the title role and Rudolph and her rather distant attachment to her Panamanian husband, Tito, until he is shot by assumed revolutionaries. Margot’s duty means that she has to stand by her husband, while at the same time Rudolph questions whether the baby, she is supposedly carrying, is his!

Nevertheless the re-invigorated passion Margot brought to her dance once she was partnered with Nureyev was, and is still, legendary. Equally what Nureyev’s muscular dance brought to the Royal Ballet changed the role that men would take rather than that as a support dancer.

As I director it is also wonderful to be given the chance to work on a new, previously unperformed, script and also involve the winning playwright, Heather Dunmore, in the development of the script in performance.

For Masque, Margot is played by newcomer Jerry Delaney, Rudolph by Tom Morath, Margot’s mother by Denise Swann, Tito (Mark Farey) complemented by Emily Bale, Sophia Monk and April Pardoe.

Clear Heels
Preview by Matthew Fell, director

From actress and first time playwright Amiee Albiston Clear Heels tells of an encounter between the lapdancer ‘Lexy’( played by Kimberley Thornhill) and her prospective customer ‘Justin’ (played by Ian Tuckley).

The innovative structuring of the play allows the audience to hear the story not only from both perspectives of the characters but also to hear their true thoughts which often contradict with what they say to each other.

A witty yet poignant look into the world of erotic dancing Clear Heels provides insight into, and challenges any audience pre-conceptions of, the motives for being there of those that frequent them.

Tue 26 February - Sat 2 March 2013 at 7.30pm
Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton Map >

Clear Heels
by Amiee Albiston


Gwilym Scourfield, audience member

To see two brand new plays by new writers performed with such accomplished support is a great delight. It should warm the hearts of all theatre-goers, as well as new playwrights.

Margot showed us the complex issues impinging on the life and career of a true legend of ballet, Margot Fonteyn. Those of us privileged to have seen her dance can have had no idea as they watched her lighter-than-air, perfect performances of the physical, emotional and intellectual agony that lay behind the ecstasy she displayed. We drank her work in like Ambrosia, sublimely ignorant. Only in her dance was she free to express her almost divine spirit.

Heather's narrative-packed play showed us all the taxing elements in the star's life. Indeed, within a space of just over an hour, she leaves almost nothing out. Her succinct, deft portrait is as punchy as a cartoon whilst having the multi-layering of a novel. It presented Rob Kendall, the director and Amy Whitestone, (stage manager) with a massive challenge, presenting about a score of scenes in a flowing sequence towards the dramatic dénouement.

I saw the first night and was impressed at the sheer innovation of the staging and was totally able to overlook the occasional discontinuities that necessarily bedevil such occasions. Scene-breaks were the main enemy, though pace was lost on lines and cuing, too.

Jerry Delaney, as Margot, rose well to the challenge. Her elegance and poise throughout communicated her image. Her duologues varied with the quality of other actors, the most credible being her relationships with Nureyev.

Tom Morath played this role with incredible assurance. He developed his character from the immature, pompously self-assured young genius to the reflective, deep-thinking older man seamlessly. It was brilliant acting. His movement and voice were perfectly suited to this demanding role.

Other acting support was from Denise Swann, as Margot's dominant mother, Mark Farley, as her good-for-nothing Machiavellian husband, Emily Bale, April Pardoe and Sophia Monk. They all returned fair performances.

They were colourfully and cleverly dressed by a very efficient team, too and supported by beautiful music and reminiscent contemporaneous photographs. The whole event was a triumph of teamwork for the Playhouse.

Heather's play asks relevant questions about how relationships, often starting as love, can become stultifying encumbrances that prevent an individual spirit from thriving. Remembering Margot Fonteyn's performances, which I saw as a young man in great awe and wonder, Heather's play made me appreciate the real cost of Margot's unique contribution to ballet.

Thank you, Masque Theatre, for bringing this provocative play to life!

Clear Heels

"And now for something completely different!" was a phrase used in vintage radio shows. Clear Heels certainly was a total contast to Margot.

Aimee Albiston goes straight for the jugular of chauvinist males in a hilariously witty set of monologues and duologues set in a lap dancing club.

Kimberly Thornhill plays a very hot, sexy Lexy earning extra money from her academic career by selling her dances to gullable, self-loving males. All the weaknesses of that breed are explicitly illustrated and cleverly satirised in Aimee's ingenious dialogue. We see Lexy preparing herself for the evening, not as a woman exploited, but as a woman more-than-capable of devouring and digesting most of her opposite gender whilst depriving them of their not-so-hard-earned cash. For men with some sensitivity it might seem like theatrical castration. The pun on her poor stooge's Christian name, Justin, must have had many male members of the audience checking the condition of their 'male member' for shrinkage!

Kimberley enjoyed the role, making it seem easier than it was, looking like the tart she portrays, whilst leaving us in no doubt that intellectually she was even more 'in charge of the situation'. A few first night blips didn't matter, her character with all its multi-layering was beautifully illustrated.

Ian Tuckley, as Justin, was blissfully unaware of his public dissection by his adversary. He had a comical appearance, but achieved the necessary empathy with the audience to make us all identify with and care for his situation - not an easy assignment for a character that has few loveable positives. He had a very sophisticated appreciation of his acting persona and a full range of comedy skills. Justin was fun to watch and amusing to reflect about.

The play has scintillating dialogue, packed with wit and satire. Through the medium of her text, both Kimberley and Ian were able to punch well above their already considerable weight. The flow and development of the dialogue are a triumph for Aimee, concluding with the ironic, "You get what you see"! (paraphrased)

The backstage team came up trumps for the play; costume, dressing of the set and the sound and lights were all first rate. The dominance of the mural depicting an exotic dancer in a club setting (all sexy bums and thighs), shooting a punter with a revolver was inspired. Matt Fell's direction was peerless.

Thankyou, too, for a classy design and excellent programme notes. A thoroughly enjoyable evening at the Playhouse.

A scene from Mrgot

Cast & Crew

Tom Morath as Nureyev and Jerry Delaney as Fonteyn. Photo by Joe Brown


Margot Jerry Delaney
Rudolph Nureyev Tom Morath
Mother Denise Swann
Tito Arias Mark Farey
Rosa Jiminez Emily Bale
Annabella Vallerino Sophia Monk
Nurse April Pardoe

Rob Kendall
Choreographer Mary O'Brien
Stage Manager Amy Whitestone
Continuity Lewis Marks


Lexy Kimberley Thornhill
Justin Ian Tuckley

Director Matthew Fell

Sound & Lighting Philip Welsh
Box Office Masque Theatre members
Publicity Kirsty Spence
Print & Programme Design Tamsyn Payne
Photography Joe Brown
Models Honey Malone, Amiee Albiston