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


Medical Roleplay

I must admit that when he arrived I mistook him for one of the assessors!



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.”

David Smith - The Arthur Miller Society Journal 2014

 


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. You brought both humour and wisdom to the role which of 

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 relaxed way in which you procrastinated over valuing 

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. Whenever the situation got heated or uncomfortable, particularly 

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.


Carla Stokes GMDF Adjudicator




The Bolton News REVIEW:
The Price at Farnworth Little Theatre

 

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

 

The Price

 

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 today. 

This play is about two brothers who come together to sell the family furniture 

to an antique dealer in Manhattan after their father's death. 

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. John O’Connell delivers a fine performance as Walter and the 

scenes with Victor were pitched perfectly. Victor’s deeply frustrated wife Esther 

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.

 

JASON CROMPTON



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 by Roy Knowles


www.uktheatre.net

Domestic Bliss by Roy Knowles at Nexus Art Cafe, Manchester

Published by: Caroline May on 25th Feb 2011 | View all blogs by Caroline May

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.





FAKE by Paul Kelly





John Howarth and Ruth Evans in the Paul Kelly play FAKE at The Chester Literature Festival.

P R E S S   R E L E A S E

 PUB PREMIERE IS FESTIVAL DIAMOND

Alternative theatre proved a great success in Chester  when Hoole 

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 West Cheshire College and presented in conjunction with the Dividers Theatre 

Company at the Bull and Stirrup, Northgate Street, played to packed audiences 

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 

sell an object to save his life. The end sequence of Victoria pleading with 

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 Dennis, Victoria's words finally hit home 

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

Chester’s alternative theatre, a great little drama in a great little venue.

 
Review submitted by Shaun Best



CHARLEY'S AUNT by Brandon Thomas




One (totally irrelevant) word to use when applied to John
would be ubiquitous. I must have seen John take roles with 3 or 4
theatre companies, and, while all had an authorative edge,
they were all different. The slighty seedy and very conniving
Stephen never endeared us, but that was never the intention.
If there was a villain in this piece then Stephen was that villain,
again played to the right degree to the credit of both actor and director.
A twirled moustache would have been too far.

IAN HORNBY (GMDF)

13th September 2011





BEDROOM FARCE by Alan Ayckbourn


This actor made his mark instantly and cause amusement
from the first moments. The distinguished appearance,
the well modulated voice and the very charismatic personality
endured a most accomplished performance.
He immersed himself in the role and related with
absolute conviction to Delia; he was certainly ill at ease
in the presence of the neurotic Susannah
and clearly did not wish to get involved in his son's
marital problems. The handling of the dialogue and the
timing was hugely impressive.
Many congratulations.

Shirley Lipman (GMDF)





SOMEONE WHO'LL WATCH OVER ME by Frank McGuiness




I don't know if John is Irish, but he certainly made a
good job of the accent, which never faltered once.
Maybe the shouting was a bit over-done and lacked variation,
but this is a minor quibble when set against this splendid portrayal.
The characterisation was explored thouroughly and meticulously
by John in a fine piece of acting.
Truly an accomplished piece of casting


 David J. Wood (GMDF)





THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE by David Edgar

 
Terrifyingly believable. Played with powerful ferocity, the personality
of Mr Hyde was strongly established from the first moment.
The dialogue was brilliantly handled, the accent totally convincing
(maybe you are a Scot - I simply don't know).
What I do know is that I was spellbound by this performance.
It could so easily have turned into a farcical situation, however,
so truthful was the playing that we actually believed in you!
The timing and delivery in the scenes with Dr Jekyll were extrememly
impressive, likewise the powerful abduction of the child,
and later striking the blow and murdering Sir Danvers Carew. Quite breathtaking.
A superb performance of frightening intensity.

Shirley Lipman (GMDF)




SEASON'S GREETINGS by Alan Ayckbourn


All the cast put in strong performances but Bernard played by John Howarth,
is particularly worthy of a mention. His portrayal of the hapless doctor is terrific.
And in the first scene of act two he puts in a performance that had the audience
roaring with delight.

Beverley Greenberg BOLTON EVENING NEWS




TAKING STEPS by Alan Ayckbourn



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. John has a fine vocal delivery using timing 

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 also used various poses and attitudes which further enhanced his physical acting. 

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 

(the handrail) was there. The various incorrectly used words were delivered 

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”. 

This was a most impressive combination of vocal 
delivery and physical acting. John did have a tendency to look above the 
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.

 The same control over his performance was retained after the interval as he was 

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.

 MEG BRAY (GMDF)


23rd October 2009