Members will be taking to the stage of the Peel Centenary Centre from Thursday to Saturday next week (March 2-4) and chairman Stephanie Gray said the audience could expect ‘a fun evening in a super local theatre in Peel’.
The group was formed after the First World War, when returning soldiers wanted to raise funds for their injured comrades. They performed R.C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End to a packed audience over three nights at the Gaiety in 1932. From there The Legion Players was formed.
Stephanie said: ‘The actor profiles showed most had been serving soldiers in the First World War.
‘It was their desire to raise money to support injured servicemen that led to the first play. The Legion Players has retained its support for the Royal British Legion ever since.’
She added: ‘It is a privilege to be part of a group that has had such a strong involvement in amateur theatre on island for so long.’
Asked why they had chosen the play, Stephanie said the film was shot in the island in 2008, in and around Ballahott Farm in Ballasalla and at Bishopscourt Farm in Kirk Michael. It starred Derek Jacobi, Imelda Staunton, Burt Reynolds and Samantha Bond. Her mum Olga helped the production team to source various props to transform the barn at Bishopsgate into a theatre.
‘Mum talked fondly about meeting the cast, particularly Derek Jacobi, and of course we went to see the film together,’ she said. ‘So when we were looking for a play to produce as part of Legion’s 90th anniversary celebration decade, and I saw the play performing rights were available, I read the script – and I laughed.
‘Written by Ian Hislop, of the Spitting Image fame, along with Nick Newman, it is billed as “a terrific comedy packed with killer comic dialogue... plenty of twists and turns”.’
The plot follows fading Hollywood action hero Jefferson Steele, keen to boost his flagging career.
He arrives in England to play King Lear in Stratford – only to find that this is not the birthplace of the Bard, but a sleepy Suffolk village.
And instead of Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench, the cast are a bunch of amateurs trying to save their theatre from developers.
The play is directed and produced by Sonia Callin.
The cast comprises Jefferson Steel (Simon Fletcher), Jessica Steel (Alex Batey), Dennis Dobbins (Howard Caine), Mary Plunkett (Gill Buchanan), Nigel Dewbury (Chris Caine) Lauren Bell (Katryn Cawte) and Dorothy Nettle (Stephanie Gray).
The play includes some original music by Ellie Quayle. She has put to music the Shakespearean rhymes used to close the scenes.
Performances take place at Peel Centenary Centre from Thursday to Saturday, March 2 to 4, at 7.30pm. A ‘Safer Space’ matinee will take place on March 4 at 2.30pm. Tickets (£10) are available at www.centenarycentre.com or from Corlett’s, in Douglas, Celtic Gold, in Peel, or Thompson Travel, in Port Erin.