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.

Medical Roleplay

I thought this was a brilliant bit of role-playing. 
He followed the candidates lead every time. 
He only asked what was written.
He made the candidates work.
I thought this was beautifully played. 
He was contained, not overly emotional and remained so for the day.
The actor looked exactly like a bank manager.
I must admit that when he arrived I mistook him for one of the assessors!
Great Role playing, letting the candidate explore, explain, and offer advice. 
He paced well, allowed time for each candidate to be thorough
before engaging them with a question. 
His emotional level was just right,
concerned but interested in finding answers. 
He listened well, had a demeanour  that made himself
available and interested in the candidates.

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 

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 gotheated or uncomfo rtable, 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.



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.

24th October 2012


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


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.


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)


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)


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.


23rd October 2009