PLAZA SUITE at Farnworth Little Theatre
John’s performance was a ‘tour de force’, he managed to provide the funniest moments
of the night with his arched eyebrows and fixed glares as well as his perfect timing of his
lines to create the maximum laughs and then the perfect pause to ride the laughter to
execute his follow up gag with real skill. His voice and timbre of expression added a
great deal to the apparently unstoppable train crash that his daughter’s wedding was
heading for, a nimbly paced, perfectly executed final scene.
As Roy continued to hurt himself and suffer multiple injuries, John demonstrated
his breaks and bruises with great comedy effect. As his suit is ripped and he continues to
escalate the mayhem leading up to the sudden and surprising appearance of his daughter,
John communicated his frustrations as he and his wife ran themselves ragged trying
to coax, bully and pry her out of the bathroom, all the while, hurling
recriminations at each other. The rising hysteria and goofball antics
are increasingly funny, and John managed everything to a tremendous climax
when he then delivered the signature comedy summation of the facts to
a rapturous round of applause.
An excellent performance that left the audience wanting more.
Nigel Machin - GMDF Adjudicator
Arsenic and Old Lace at Bolton Little Theatre
You have a strong, yet natural stage presence which served you well
and combined with an engaging and sustained American accent,
you remained secure in your dialogue throughout. Teddy also
has a tremendous energy which tends to be spontaneous, often
interrupting the action on stage and which could be irritating to an
audience but you ensured that this never happened, which is a testament
to your acting skills. Controlling those moments, made them very amusing
to watch. This was a truly engaging performance of this eccentric
yet likeable character John, which was conveyed with excellent
vocal light and shade and convincing characterisation.
Very well done.
Carla Stokes - GMDF Adjudicator
The Price at Farnworth Little Theatre
John Howarth’s “Solomon” is brilliantly drawn; creating havoc with poor Victor’s
limited social skills. Howarth emphasises the differences in his experiences
compared with the mundanity of Victors, who is amazed atthe energy of the
89 year old Solomon. Howarth’s Solomon is apparently unassuming
yet begins creating the cracks in Victor’s facade which are later exploited
by Walter. This delicate beginning by Howarth leads increasingly
through the play to the control that he will later exert.
This is an echo to Miller’s advice when he said of the play;
“…the key to it is that the audience must be thinking I agree with him, no I agree with him, no I agree with him now”.
All the while John Howarth’s Solomon looks on, his body almost shaped as a sigh;
he has seen it all before and waits calmly to intervene when the other three
have flogged themselves to a standstill. This is typified when Walter in
his final rage, flings his mother’s gown at Victor and storms out. Victor calls
“Walter! Walter!” whilst Solomon simply says “Let him go”,
he knows there will no rapprochement. Whilst Miller insists that there
would be no winners, in this production you feel Victor faces the better future,
after all he has Esther. Walter has run away from his only family towards
a suspected emptiness.
This was a remarkable performance, perhaps it was the dual role thrust upon O’Connell,
for the cast had a mutual internal energy, driving the play in unashamed passion.
Perhaps these words from David Thacker after attending the rehearsal are the best tribute …
“…I hope I conveyed how impressed I was with your work on the play and that I know Arthur Miller
would be very grateful that you all clearly love his play so much and you show such a deep commitment to it. I think
you should all be very proud of your achievement.”
The Price at Farnworth Little Theatre
Gregory Solomon - John Howarth
Of the four characters in the play, yours is perhaps the most challenging as it requires a very specific
vocal style and accent as well as being able to convincingly convey the character’s advancing years
both in body language and movement. There is no doubt that you fully accomplished these requirements and
used them all in what
was a truly convincing performance.
course is the author’s intent and your performance had a very natural and convincingly feel to it. Your timing and facial
expressions also helped
tremendously with this.
the attic’s contents worked well and certainly provoked the desired response of
frustration and irritation from Victor. Of particular note here was the very relaxed way you
took the egg from your bag and slowly ate it, while Victor looked appropriately
peeved at your prevarication.
with the brothers and Esther, you used various methods, including illness, to try and
diffuse the situation and these were really convincing, whilst also again,
bringing a little humour to the scenes and also, on occasion some well needed advice.
This was a strong and
convincing performance John. Very well done.
11:17am Friday 21st March 2014
The Octagon's David Thacker with Farnworth Little Theatre's
John O'Connell, John Howarth, Pat Hill and Peter Scofield
Arthur Miller’s The Price was I believe contemporary at the time of its
first performance in 1968 and as far as I’m concerned it still is
This play is about two brothers who come together to sell the family furniture
to an antique dealer in
Victor is a policeman who gave up his college education in science to take care of his father after
the stock market crash. Walter is a successful doctor who went on with his schooling,
contributed almost nothing to help his father, but felt that his father had
plenty of savings that he was not touching. Each brother is looking at the past and their father's
needs in a different way--it's far from being black and white. Walter wishes to extend
the hand of friendship, to overcome their shared past resentments;
sadly, Victor cannot see Walter as anything but the son who did as he pleased, while he,
himself, did as his father said. The brothers' perspectives on their family and
their lives are vastly different.
Peter Scofield is on top form as Victor, full of pent up emotion yet
fully in control.
scenes with Victor were pitched perfectly.
is poignantly played by Pat Hill. John Howarth gives an outstanding performance as Solomon
the wily octogenarian appraiser. He managed to show the character’s age
but still do it with a mischievous twinkle in his eye - lovely work.
Sara Hassall has designed great intimate set and the play is performed in the round.
The play leaves us with no answers, just the questions of life and the
observations about the human condition.
An extremely thought-provoking piece of theatre.
PROOF by David Auburn
The character of Robert was handled extremely sympathetically. Mental health is for
many a very difficult subject to discuss let alone watch. As our understanding of mental
health problems increases many people realise more and more that
they know people suffering from mental problems. There was for me great depth
in John’s performance and there was gentleness in his portrayal which
demonstrated a level of understanding that was not written.
I thought you gave a very sympathetic performance. It was strong yet subtle
and there were no cheap tricks in your performance of this character.
Brian Lawson GMDF
PLAZA SUITE by Neil Simon
Roy Hubley – John Howarth
As mentioned with Norma, this character reminds me very
much of Neil Simon’s other fathers, in particular the father in
Come Blow your Horn with regards to him being the head of the
family and quite outspoken and domineering. These aspects were captured
well John and through your booming voice and commanding stage
presence you created a great characterisation of this tough, stressed
and exasperated Brooklyn father-to-be. Your accent
was well realised, and more than most on stage you got the local accent
down to a fine art, punctuating certain words to realise the Brooklyn dialect.
What I most enjoyed about your performance was how you built up the hysteria
of the character throughout the scene in such a comically yet natural manner.
It could have been quite easy to have taken this too far and make the
part a caricature. But you balanced this beautifully, allowing your body language
and exaggerated facial expressions create a lot of the humour in the scene.
Also worthy of note was your timing, of both dialogue and movements about stage.
They were handled with aplomb as you ensured every comedy line
was delivered at the right moment and with good rhythm and your movement about
stage mirrored the growing tension and anxiety of the character.
Tonight you made this part your own, received a great reaction from the audience
and delivered sterling comedy performance which resulted in for me,
one of the highlights of the production.
PAUL WARD (GMDF)
24th October 2012
Domestic Bliss, Roy Knowles’ biting satire on contemporary northern
working-class life, has finally made it to a full-length
fully-staged production after being work-shopped at Oldham Coliseum,
semi-staged at the Not Part of Festival’s Sitcom Shorts show
in 2009, and receiving a rehearsed reading at last year’s
24:7 Theatre Festival. The process of development - and possibly the
help of director Matthew Gould - has transformed the
sketchy (if hilarious) premise into a fully-fledged comedy drama.
Hard-working but hide-bound Les and his kind but ditzy wife Jean think
they already have enough on their plates with slacker son
Mark and mouthy daughter Dawn. That’s until they decide to spend
the evening unwinding in front of another scandalous episode of
Danny Funckle, Agony Uncle (a format not unrelated to
The Jeremy Kyle Show if DNA tests are to be believed)
and discover that Shelly, the show’s latest dysfunctional wannabe WAG,
is claiming that Mark is the father of her new baby…
John Howarth as comic foil Les and Sharon Heywood as doting grandmother
Jean mine the play’s potential for drama and pathos,
and Gemma Flannery’s Dawn and Matthew Melbourne’s Mark relish the
sardonic one-liners, while Zoe Iqbal is fabulous as
short-skirted, loose-moralled Shelly, the none-too-doting mother of
bouncing fourteen-pound baby Hollyblossom Louise
(named after her Nana and a paint advert on the telly).
Where Domestic Bliss really scores theatrical points is with the semi-surreal interplay
between the scenes in the TV studio and the live reaction in the Tyler
family’s front room. This is partly because the author turns the
confession show’s sensationalist format into a recurring joke that brilliantly
develops through the story. But mainly it’s because the stage is lit up by
Liam Tims’ charismatic performance as the vain, self-important, counterfeit-caring TV
presenter - his spontaneous interaction with the (real live)
audience and witty ad libs were the icing on the cake.
Incidentally, this was my first theatre trip to the Nexus Art Café in Manchester‘s Trendy
Northern Quarter (© Manchester City Council), which is a fantastic performance space
as well as boasting squishy sofas, lovely coffee and tempting home-made cakes.
I can’t predict what the next development will be for Domestic Bliss, but if its
previous incarnations are anything to go by it will be a tremendous success.
Alternative theatre proved a great success in
playwright Paul Kelly’s latest drama premiered in a pub as part of the city’s
literature festival. Fake, directed by Peter Mulley, a former lecturer in
performing arts at
Company at the Bull and
over its three day run which included evening and matinee sell-outs.
Shaun Best writes: Lasting a mere 45 minutes and set in a jeweller’s shop, the tightly written,
one-set drama focused on four characters whose individual misfortunes
seemed to have switched by play’s end. Dennis, played by John Howarth whose credits
include Hollyoaks, and Victoria (Ruth Evans) run a jewellery shop. His hard-nosed approach to life
alienates people but deep down he is also in denial about a personal tragedy
relating to his son, something never addressed in the play but serving to fuel speculation
amongst the audience. Customer Leanne’s (Barbara Jemmett) pregnancy is
overshadowed by her partner David's (Cassian Wheeler) business troubles.
This leads to a powerful, well executed exchange of emotions between Dennis and David over the
pawning of Leanne's engagement ring. The line, "What do you want in life?" uttered by Dennis makes
the audience work while keeping them guessing as to which chapter of his life
David will decide to save. With the diamond ring being used as a metaphor for life, David finally rises
above Dennis' taunts and gamesmanship and walks out with Leanne to prove that he doesn't need to
object to save his life. The end sequence of
Dennis to come to terms with the loss of his business - and son - draws comparisons
with the famous Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman, when Willy Loman wrongfully thought he had
lost everything and tragically perishes at the end. Fortunately for
and the marriage is saved as the curtain comes down. The pub setting proved to be
advantageous with everyone congregating downstairs
afterwards to raise a glass to
John immediately impressed me with his stage presence.
This is something which cannot be taught and is
acquired after many years experience. John used his experience
throughout this production.
and inflection to advantage. I observed early in the play on
“…extracting…” how he timed his gesture with the delivery of the line to gain the full
humorous impact. “Legal brain” was delivered with a very good inflection and
“Fancy a peanut” was delivered after a well held pause.
John was probably the most convincing as he moved from room to room
and whilst ascending and descending the stairs. I noted towards the end of the second
act how he held onto an imaginary handrail as he called upstairs to Mark.
So convincing was this gesture and mime I was almost convinced it
handrail) was there.
with an almost deadpan delivery which again ensured the full comic potential.
Most impressive was the strong stare in Leslie’s direction
after John delivered “unpleasant little shit”.
was a most impressive combination of vocal
delivery and physical acting.
head of the person he was addressing and very often to either look past
them or not at all. This did remove the focus and at times had the effect
of reducing the value of his otherwise excellent delivery. I suspect that this was John’s
interpretation of the character but the importance of placing the
appropriate focus should never be overlooked.
I appreciated the control as John broke down after reading the letter which he
followed with an excellent transition for “Who are you?” He also demonstrated
the same control over his acting as he made his exit with various pills and drink.
held by Mark and Tristram. Here was an opportunity to go over the top but thankfully
John was not tempted in that direction. Control was again in evidence as he
awoke and addressed “his staff”. The transition was good and I noted that he kept control
over his acting and did not make his performance at that point too energetic.
John’s experience prevailed throughout the play and contributed
to other fine performances. John is a fine actor, experienced and with a good stage presence.
He has an enviable vocal technique which he combined with strong physical acting.
John’s contribution to this play cannot be under estimated.