The Broomsquire — on tour from 14th to 23rd June 2013

ReviewHaslemerePhoenixButserTilfordHeadleyHindheadvideo – see also production in 2000/2001

The Poster.
See cast details for 2013 tour.

Pre-publicity shot: Izzy Glinn as Matabel & Luke Oates as Jonas the Broomsquire.

The cast on Headley Village Green during a break in the Dress Rehearsal of Sunday 9th June.

The same after they'd been told they didn't have to rehearse on Tuesday!

Here are the unsung heroines of the show (Janet & Dil) without whom nothing would have happened right on any of the nights.

Haslemere Museum, Fri 14th June 2013

The set — how peaceful it looks; but very soon…

It's what your right hand's for, David!

Jonas (Luke Oates) putting the boot in on Iver (Mark Spiller)!

Mr Barelegs (Rod Sharp) asking for his feed of Oates.

In the Workhouse: Peter Glinn with …

… Zak & Zya White.

Rod Sharp & Peter Glinn discuss the constitution of the Jury.

An attempt at a Grand Circle Dance at the end.

The Phoenix Arts Centre, Bordon, Sat 15th June 2013

The set, before the invasion.

Murder most foul! But is it the audience they're after?

Jonas (Luke Oates) and his sister (Pru Harrold) don't see eye to eye…

…and neither do Matabel (Izzy Glinn) and Mrs Verstage (Mel White).

…and it seems like Luke must be wearing the wrong deoderant!!

Rural Life Centre, Tilford, Sun 16th June 2013

Three men and a set. What's Steve up to at the other end?

Sarah (Pru Harrold) and Jonas (Luke Oates) swap insults in their unscripted preamble.

The cast parades to "All Round My Hat" at the start of the show.

Jonas gives us the tale of a tail at his wedding feast. 'Old Clutch' looks over the hessian to see what's going on.

Matabel (Izzy Glinn) is not impressed…

…and some have seen it all before!!

What d'you mean, my hair's all frizzy??

Iver (Mark Spiller) and his mother Mrs Verstage (Mel White) walk across the set to visit Matabel in her new house.

"Well, let's ask the horse what he thinks!"

Jonas is bleeding, awful.

Iver summons a sturgeon to check Jonas's wounds. Is there something fishy going on?

Whoops! Don't meddle with Mattee when she's got a gun in her hand!!

After the world's fastest pregnancy, Matabel shows Mrs Verstage her new baby.

Giles Cheel (Peter Glinn) waffles on at the Christening Feast – Izzy's heard it all before!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Whatever, it seems to have dropped something in Steve's eye!

Markham the barrister (Nick Webb) visits Matabel. He wants to go fishing!

Sarah gives typical words of encouragement to Matabel (not).

Counsels for the prosecution (Nick Webb above) and defence (Neil Hardinge below) at Matabel's trial for the murder of her husband…

…and here come de judge! (David Irwin)

A co-opted jury listens attentively to the evidence. She's 'not guilty'. Phew!

The cast takes a bow. Time to go home!

Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton, Fri 21st June 2013

Photos by Angus McKay, but he may wish to be disassociated from the comments!

The empty set in the Round House at Butser …

…soon to be populated with mesmerised chanting wanderers.

Do you know how much it would hurt if I hit you over the head with this bell, little girl?

Vicar, I didn't mean it that way!

How much d'you think we could get for these kids, Rod?

Don't worry about that smoke – I'll soon put the fire out!

It's flower power; you like it? No?

Well, I'm told that's how they did it in the Iron Ages!

He said what!?

Don't worry, it's not loaded.

I'll stare you to death instead!

What are you doing sitting out here by Thor's Stone, Mr Barelegs?

Ah well, now let's go home and get the chalk marks off our clothes!

Headley Village Hall, Sat 22nd June 2013

The landlord of The Ship (David Irwin) awaits your pleasure…

…while Jonas the broomsquire (Luke Oates) butters up the audience.

"Well, it's like this, Vicar…"

In The Ship the murderers three plot their dastardly plan. The Sailor's seconds are numbered.

"All good things must come to an end." Matabel (Izzy Glinn) is moved on to matrimony.

Time for a dance then. The Director takes flight; the rest take fright!

That's a relief – it's stopped!

Jonas's sister Sarah (Pru Harrold) gives Matabel her usual cheery & optimistic greeting on arrival at her new home…

… and Jonas knicks her money. Happy families!

Iver Verstage (Mark Spiller) who sells his paintings for 200 brooms. He must have a clean house!

He had a dream – to find a chalk-free, dust-free, grass-free floor to sit on!

Matabel & Jonas pose for a publicity shot. He will rid him of her, or something.

This looks like it! The gun's in the other hand now, and Jonas is looking down the barrel!
But no – Matabel seems to have found her devotion to duty.

And after a quick pregnancy, she visits Mrs Verstage (Mel White) who has two feet on the brink of her grave.

Markham the barrister (Nick Webb) meets the 'squiress' on the common and offers her his aid. At least, I think that's what he said.

It might have been easier with the gun, but using a small stone and a disused lime kiln is a less messy way to get rid of a husband.

The Headley jury considers her fate…

… while the defence counsel (Neil Hardinge) boasts again!

'Ride on!' – Matabel is free to wander and wonder.

And so we return to the beginning of her day-dream, and she is the schoolma'am of Thursley again.

Time to go home …

… but not before we've tried to get that darned Grand Circle Dance right for once! Thank you, and good night!!

Hindhead Common, Sun 23rd June 2013

In the open air, overlooking the Devil's Punch Bowl

Setting up the 'stage'

The play in action, almost on the spot where the story was supposed to have happened!


On Saturday 15th June, Bordon's Phoenix Theatre played host to Headley Theatre Club's touring production of The Broomsquire.

Written and directed by local author Jo Smith, and based on the novel by Sabine Baring-Gould, the play centres on imaginary events following the real life murder of a lone sailor on Hindhead Common in 1786.

Baring- Gould's novel poses some intriguing questions: 'What if the sailor had been carrying a baby daughter? What if that baby had survived the ambush?'

In Jo Smith's highly accomplished production, the orphaned girl's story is brought to life by a group of talented actors and musicians who mingle freely with the audience and work very much 'in the round'. As well as having audience members seated with the actors on the set, some individuals even get to play parts as jury members in a trial scene.

With just the one set, the action moves instantly from one scene to another, enabling the story to unfold smoothly and at a great pace; the audience is kept involved and enthralled at all times.

It was clear for all to see that the members of this local theatre group very much enjoyed the ensemble playing, and evident throughout was their shared love of the play itself. The whole cast performed with conviction and confidence.

There was the added bonus of live music, with Steve White's tuneful pipe playing and Nick Webb's guitar accompaniment adding greatly to the olden-day atmosphere of the setting.

The performance was very much a team effort, and one is loathe to single out individual performances. However, Izzy Glinn deserves a special mention for her sensitive yet strong portrayal of the foundling, Matabel, and for her melodious singing voice.

As the finder of the abandoned baby, and later her husband, Luke Oates played the deranged and self-centred Broomsquire of the title with passion and total conviction. Here is a local amateur actor who clearly absorbs himself into a part and is dedicated to the craft.

Pru Harrold, one of the longest-serving members of the Headley Theatre Club, gave an equally impassioned and highly charged performance as the Broomsquire's opinionated sister, Sarah. The scenes in which they were at each other's throats, including the play's opening, were very well executed, and could not fail to grab the audience's full attention.

The Broomsquire is a hugely entertaining piece of theatre, with a local theme as well as local performers. If you enjoy theatre in all its aspects, go and see this imaginative production, you will not be disappointed.

Cavan Syrad

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