Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932

Registered Charity No. 294848


Join Masque Theatre




Useful Links

Shaxpeare's Box
by Brian Wright


Wed 6 - Sat 16 January 2016
Performances at 7.30pm (Sat 9 & Sat 16 January at 4.00pm & 8.00pm)

St Peter and St Paul Church, Park Avenue South, Northampton


Storyteller 1 David Chappell
Storyteller 2
Victoria Miles
Cllr Bane Fraser Haines
Jessie Reed April Pardoe
Cllr Capper Beverley Webster
Nobbs Matthew Bates
Cllr Todd Owen Warr
Sue Delve Holly Lowe
Harry Grace Mark Farey
Ghost of Elizabeth Bernard Bernadette Wood
Voice of Elizabeth Bernard Lesley Joseph
Steve Butts David Chappell
Andy Pegg Matthew Bates
Rocco Matthew Bates
Vernon Slynn Ian Spiby
Dr Flint Victoria Miles
Julie Victoria Miles
Nibb David Chappell
Mick Matthew Bates
Lou Rosie Chapman

Written & directed by Brian Wright
Music composed & performed by Richard & Elizabeth York
Lighting design Philip Welsh
Sound recording Michael Bartlett
Sound desk Kathy Schaer
Decor Lauren Hubbard
Stage Manager Jo Molyneux
Assistant Stage Manager Jen Kenny
Prompt Rosie Chapman
Refreshments Dianne Ward and church members
Box Office Elizabeth Allan, Masque Theatre members
Publicity Jen Kenny
Church liaison Rhiannon George
Poster design & Photography Jayne West
Programme design & Photography Graham Follett
Artist in Residence Ron Tarry
Producer Ursula Wright
Elizabeth Barnard's costume designed by Lasma Paberza
Elizabeth Barnard's costume made by Dorothy Granger

Barry Dougall, member Masque Theatre

The granddaughter of William Shakespeare, Lady Elizabeth  Bernard, once lived in what is now Abington Park Museum, Northampton, is buried in the adjacent Church and 2016 happens to be the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

These basic facts form the background to the Masque's production of Shaxpeare's Box, a new comedy specially written and directed by Brian Wright and performed in Abington Church itself. The play is set in the present day and is built around the discovery of  an ancient and mysterious locked box, apparently decorated with the Shakespeare family crest, in the Museum attic, causing much excitement amongst those involved, including archaeologists, a Shakespeare-loving Curate, administrators,  and local councillors, some of whom recognise the discovery as a great opportunity to cash in for themselves.

On the ‘goodies’ side, as this amusing and entertaining plot develops, is Holly Lowe, as a Museum employee, giving an excellent performance, and her first role for Masque, in a tech-nically demanding part, especially when conversing with the disembodied, pre-recorded voice of popular actress and Masque President Lesley Joseph as the ghostly Lady Elizabeth.

"The sort of local politician we all suspect exists but hope does not"

Mark Farey as the sympathetic Curate is warm and funny, ably demonstrating his Shakespearean credentials when quoting from the Bard's works.

Masque stalwart Owen Warr is well cast as a well-intentioned councillor, a role which Owen obviously relished, while April Pardoe, playing an administrator under pressure from the ‘baddies’ is veryaffecting and has no problem gaining the audience’s sympathy for her predicament.

On the night I attended, the prompt, Rosie Chapman, had been drafted in to a performing role due to the original actor’s illness and did so well that we were not really aware she had access to a script.

The villains of the piece were played with typical enthusiasm and expertise by Fraser Haines and Ian Spiby. Fraser played, totally convincingly, the sort of local politician we all suspect exists but hope does not, while his ‘partner in crime’  Ian Spiby's creepy crook of an Antique dealer was a joy to behold.

Flyer for MacbethFurther comedy was provided by Masque veteran, always a pleasure to see on stage, David Chappell, in several roles, and Matthew Bates, in a highly promising debut with the company. Another Masque debutante who hopefully will become a regular was talented singer and actress Victoria Miles.

Special mention should be made of Bernie Wood, as Lady Elizabeth's ghost, seemingly floating in and out of the action, and lip syncing perfectly with Lesley Joseph's words.

The original atmospheric music to Brian Wright’s delightful production was provided by Richard and Elizabeth York adding to the overall enjoyment of the evening's entertainment.


Brian Wright, writer and director

Locked away for four hundred years …
Shakespeare’s secret, Northampton’s secret!

A sparkling new comedy, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and his unique connection to Northampton through his granddaughter and heir Lady Elizabeth Bernard

She lies buried in the church where the performances take place, next to Abington Museum, her former home.

Northampton-born TV star Lesley Joseph heads the cast as the Voice of Elizabeth’s Ghost. Music is composed and performed by Richard and Elizabeth York. The play is written and directed by Brian Wright (BAFTA nomination, double Sony award, former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC producer).  The production has been awarded a Northamptonshire Community Foundation grant.

The story is set in Northampton now, and tells what happens when everyone’s dream – finding a priceless heirloom in the attic – turns into a comic nightmare.  Will the Ghost help uncover the mystery of what was left in her attic…?

Northamptonshire Community Foundation logoCome and enjoy our ‘winter’s tale’, chase away those post-Christmas blues!  The church is warm and refreshments will be served, but bring a cushion if you like, as the seating is on church pews.  Abington Museum is open before the matinee performance on Saturday afternoons.  



Brian Wright has lived in Northampton for the past 25 years, originally from East Ham, educated there, Oxford and RADA. Worked as an actor in repertory, RSC, West End, T.V. and radio; as script-editor and producer at BBC; as playwright for BBC, ITV and various theatres; published children’s novel for Heinemann, story collection for Souvenir, two audio-books for Crimson Cats; two Sony Awards, BAFTA and Writers’ Guild nominations; Fellow in Playwriting Bristol University. Agents: Sheil Land Associates (Philippa Sitters).

Page last updated: 10/04/2016 Masque Theatre © 2016


A scene from Shaxpeare's Box

A scene from Shaxpeare's Box Photo by Jayne West