Two Sisters offer more Lion and Unicorn laughs with the tears


Two Sisters (Lion and Unicorn)

Sheet Village Hall  

April 21 and 22 2017

If, like, me you spent your student days during the second half of that most blessed of decades, the 1980s, you would have dined lavishly at the most rich and toothsome of cultural banquets. Your vinyl would have been graced by the Smiths and the Cure. Your politics would have been stridently anti-Thatcher, while enjoying what now seems like a la

vish student grant. And the chances are there was

Laura Sheppard and Ali Hill in Two Sisters, for Lion and Unicorn

one film you loved more than any others: Withnail and I. And you would spend long evenings drinking your grant away in the pub while shouting out selected extracts from this tale of two scabrous, washed up, boozed up actors living in squalor, bewailing the injustice that they are not famed and feted. It was hilarious – and still is.
Many of its aphorisms are too foulmouthed for this genteel reviewer. But one did come to mind as I sat back and enjoyed the Lion and Unicorn’s production of Two Sisters; the eponynous Withnail’s condemnation of the entirety of Russian drama: “…all about women looking out of windows, complaining about ducks flying to Moscow”.

And let’s face it he has a point. Caroline Harding’s Two Sisters involves no ducks but does involve women who are far from happy from their lot. They spend pretty much the whole play regretting everything that has happened in their lives, even spending time sitting or lying down to enjoy the comfort of a coffin that has mysteriously appeared in the room. Salad Days, this is not.

But in the expert hands of Laura Sheppard as Anya and Ali Hill as Sonia and under promising young director, Sam Gaffney, it was full of laughter – albeit laughter in the dark. In fact what I admired most about their work together but was not what they did, but what they let the other do. This was am dram of the highest order, allowing each other to shine and with splendid comic timing. They were hand in glove as they depicted two people in a living hell, with little in their lives and little prospect of more.

Ali was lugubriousness itself, but extracted a great deal of humour from her plight and her complaints about her small husband. Ali herself is the very model of propriety, but she gives a jolly impression of a lascivious old lush. Indeed, this was Russian despair via John Orton with even a soupcon of Frankie Howerd. But she also revealed her character to be capable of real feeling as well, with her speeches about her love – and her fears – for her children truly memorable and rather beautiful.

Alongside her was the redoubtable Laura. She was the more energised of the two – but it was the energy of a woman for whom happiness is a long distant memory. Again, she was very funny, even playful at times. But again, she showed herself capable of real emotional depth. In the programme notes, she described the play as profoundly poignant – and that too was what I saw in her performance.

But as well as two sisters we were also treated to lots of poetry – a first half full of it in fact, organised and led by the estimable Jill Hancock, who put together a programme of poems on the theme of sibling relationships. And what fun her crew had with them. Each shone at different times, especially when imitating children, with Roger Wallsgrove in particular clearly enjoying himself a great deal. Jill herself had something of Alastair Sim about her as she revelled in Mary Dunn’s Lady Addle Remembers, while Beryl Savill was especially effective in Kit Wright’s Waiting for the Tone. The highlight was perhaps unsurprisingly the weird sisters of Macbeth – and this produced a highlight all of its own; John Deavin, well known to many as the basso profundo of our parish church choir, revealing himself to be very comfortable with his inner crone as he screeched and stretched his way as one of those sisters. It was most unnerving. But like the whole of this cornucopia of poetic delights, most enjoyable.

I had a cracking evening at Sheet Village Hall – but also one in which I pondered anew what it was about Sheet that meant it was so suitable for a drama of despair. Last year I cringed at Ben Gander’s extraordinarily painful OCD and Me, and squirmed at the bourgeois hate-fest of God of Carnage. Now we have the despair of Two Sisters. But darkness though there might be, there is always a great deal of laughter when the Lion and the Unicorn are in town. And frankly, with two months left of a general election campaign, I’ll take any laughter I can get, especially when it is from acting of this calibre.

Hugo Deadman

Ramshill Records launched by Churcher’s college, Petersfield

The first EP has been released on Churcher’s College’s brand new record label, Ramshill Records.

Silhouette is the work of 15-year-old fifth year student, Katie Evans (above), who has written and performed all five tracks on the album. She plays guitar and sings in all her compositions

Ramshill Records will be used to release music that has been composed, arranged, performed and produced by Churcher’s College students with the support of Churcher’s College Music Technology and guitar teacher, Mr Joe James.

One track from the new EP debuted at the Petersfield Musical Festival in March; Paper Castles featured guitar, violin and cello, and showcased the young composer’s talent with thoughtful, imaginative lyrics. It was received with rapturous applause by the audience.

The other tracks on the EP are called:  Words Come to Life, Let Her Go, Artist and the Author, and Demons.

Mr James, responsible for spearheading the initiative said: “It’s a really exciting time for all involved; Ramshill Records is the perfect vehicle to showcase and release Katie’s work into the real world of the music industry. Silhouette is a high standard piece of work, displaying honesty and authenticity worthy of a wider audience.

“Ramshill Records will provide our students with a unique platform to experience first-hand what it takes to develop, record, produce and release their own music, using all the same tools that are available to independent musicians, recording engineers and producers today. It also enables non-musicians to be involved in graphic design, marketing, branding and the myriad other aspects that go into planning and releasing a product in this industry.”

Katie added:  “Churcher’s has supported me musically throughout my time here and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to share my music with a wider audience.  Who knows, perhaps this will be the start of my musical career?”

The LP is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music and most digital music platforms.

Angling board game floated at Langrish House fundraiser

A fundraising evening of board game fun was held at Langrish House Hotel in April, raising £292 for The Rosemary Foundation.

Petersfield’s Mike Haggerty, inventor of the Great Fishing Match Game, launched his new version of this family board game at the event. The game, for all ages from six years upwards, is based on angling. The aim is to catch the most fish.

He has also written a second little book of amusing poems to give patients in hospital waiting rooms “a little bit of cheeriness.”

See or call 07599 790586 to find out more.


Thomas Lord pub commemorates West Meon’s Great War veterans with remembrance plaque

The Thomas Lord pub in the village of West Meon, is proud to commemorate the men who lost their lives in The Great War by placing plaques bearing villagers’ names on the front wall of the pub.

As part of the West Meon Poppy Trail, The Thomas Lord now displays the plaques of the four of the men, for whom an existing address could not be found, to ensure a continuous presence in the very heart of the community.

The West Meon Poppy Trail, which has taken a total of three years to complete, originally started out as a project with West Meon Primary School looking into the history of the First World War and the local men that gave their lives.
To remember the fallen, the children designed plaques, which were then hand-made at West Meon Pottery and later displayed at the existing residence of each soldier.
Tabitha Money, general manager at The Thomas Lord said of their involvement: “We are thrilled to have been approached by Chris Waller from the Parish Council to house the memorial plaques as part of the West Meon Poppy Trail.
“It is a great way of paying our respects to those that fought in the First World War for us, and ensures that they are seen by many. What’s truly special about the Poppy Trail is that it’s a real community endeavour, and we’re honoured to be able to commemorate these true local heroes at The Thomas Lord.”
Copies of the Meon Poppy Trail leaflet can found in The Thomas Lord, shop and café detailing the thirty men who died during the 1914-18 war.
To find out more about The Thomas Lord, visit, call 01730 829 244, like on Facebook or follow @ThomasLordPub on Twitter.

Take the lead to stopping dog attacks

May is the time when, in rural areas such as Petersfield and Haslemere, you will see sheep in the fields, many with lambs. Footpaths crossing farm fields mean that you are allowed to walk your dog along the path, but this may bring you into proximity with grazing animals.

With an increasing number of residents in rural areas, and a growing number of dogs, farmers and smallholders are noticing a steep increase in the number of incidents of attacks and chasing by dogs – not just sheep but cattle, alpacas, horses and free range poultry.

The South Downs National Park Authority has launched a campaign called take the Lead, about responsible dog ownership.

It states: “Taking responsibility for your dog is especially important in spring when young livestock are particularly vulnerable. The South Downs is also home to many ground-nesting birds, and any disturbance can stop a successful brood. If you see signs asking you to keep your dog on the lead, please do so.

“This year, real South Downs dogs star in our Canine Confessions films, where reformed roguish hounds share their stories. We’ve also put together the #taketheleadto photo competition with a chance to win some great prizes, and a map of stunning walking locations to inspire you to get out and about in the South Downs National Park.”

See for more information.


Meanwhile a campaign to educate about and record incidents of attacks on livestock by dogs has been set up by local shepherd and campaigner Terena Plowright. SheepWatch UK aims to support farmers and other people that keep sheep. It has also been set up to encourage responsible dog ownership. Terena also runs courses to teach dogs to ignore livestock.

“The number of dog attacks on sheep seems to be rising, with thousands of sheep killed each year,” Terena said.

“If you see a dog worrying sheep you should call 999 and state that a crime is taking place as sheep are being worried by a dog. If the switchboard are unsure who to refer you to – ask for the Rural Crime Team or someone who deals with Rural Issues.

“A dog wandering uncontrolled in a field can seem harmless enough but the situation can cause a farmer and sheep to be concerned and worried – this is enough to be a crime. If the sheep are bunching together or moving away from the dog they are ‘worried’ and this is a crime.”

There is advice on the law and its implementation, what to do if you see an incident of livestock worrying, how you can help, recording incidents and how sheep owners can get compensation.

See for detailed information.

The ugly truth

From SheepWatch UK:

Dogs chasing sheep can again be a major incident, with damages hidden to the untrained eye.

  1. Sheep are often terrified by a dog – thus they run and this in itself is a welfare issue, especially if they have a full fleece in warmer weather. They can also chase sheep into rivers where they drown, into fences where they get damaged, or get chased to exhaustion.
  2. Sheep can die later (and often do) from shock if chased by a dog
  3. Sheep can easily abort their lambs if chased by a dog
  4. Lambs get lost or trampled if a flock is chased by a dog, often injury is serious and they often die.

Thrilling, inventive dance show from Motionhouse


Scattered – Motionhouse 

G Live, Guildford 

April 4, 2017

If you’d like to see how dance can portray the ever-changing climate of the planet we live on today, then prepare to be utterly amazed by the Motionhouse sensation – Scattered.

Artistic director and choreographer Kevin Finnan of Motionhouse explores the relationship between humanity and the earth, and our ethical responsibilities for the world around us.

The concave, bowl-shaped stage and technical projections were very atmospheric and used to great effect. T

The electrifying music composed by Sophy Smith along with the atmospheric lighting by Natasha Chivers aided the unique performance from these exceptionally gifted dancers. My eyes were continually jolting left, right, up and down, trying to take everything in.

One moment the dancers were performing small movements on the floor, falling intricately over one another, then they were sprinting up the curved wall, hanging from head to toe. The sheer strength of all seven dancers was mind blowing and their ability to leap and slide from the descending wall – all in perfect time with the backdrop of the projection – was awe-inspiring.

Each scene explored our relationship with water:  icebergs melting, waterfalls stopping, and taps drying out in the scorching heat of the desert – all seamlessly reflected on the backdrop of the stage.

Delivered with  strength, skill and technique, this is a captivating, energetic and highly physical piece of dance which kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole 70 minutes – recommended viewing.


Chloe Tucker

Clothes swap and fashion event for Haslemere charities

A fashion and clothes swap evening to raise money for the mayor’s charities will be held in Haslemere Hall on Sunday, April 30, 4-7pm.

Switchange is an evening of fashion and fun – you can take your clothing along and swap it for something equally lovely to revamp your wardrobe.

Linnet Bird from The Silkroad explained: “Upon arrival, if you wish to bring items to swap, they will be exchanged for tokens, which act as currency for you to spend on preloved and new items.

“Items in good, new or never-worn condition such as clothes, shoes and accessories are welcomed.

“if you don’t have anything to swap, but still want to join in the fun, you can simply buy tokens on the night.

“While you sit back and enjoy the showcase of preloved and new items available to exchange your tokens for, the rest of the items accumulated on the night will be sorted onto clothing rails, which each have a different token value.

“then the fun begins, as you decide which treasures you want to take home with you!”

Tickets priced £10, which include a glass of fizz and the fashion show, are available from Haslemere Hall or The Silkroad. Call 01428 288313 for more information.

All the profits will go the mayor’s charities.

Shakespeare success is just the tip of the iceberg for Petersfield writer

Petersfield resident Geoff Eyre is justifiably proud that his latest book about the age-old question: ‘who wrote Shakespeare?’ has been accepted in the highest academic circles, but a few minutes spent with this self-effacing and modest pensioner reveals many more undiscovered literary successes…and a fresh look at old age.

Geoffrey Eyre
Geoff, aged 85, has lived in Petersfield for most of his life and cuts an unlikely figure as a researcher and writer. At a time of life when many of us are slowing down, he is now completing a follow-up volume to his book The Case for Edward de Vere as Shakespeare, and has several other projects queuing up in his ever-enquiring mind.
Geoff said: “When my Shakespeare book was published, I realised just how little many people knew about the subject of his authorship and the general historical circumstances of that period, so I decided to write a more in-depth study for those who are interested.”
The first book on the subject is a very clearly-written and authoritative distillation of the latest research on this subject which has challenged intellectuals for centuries.
“I saw a gap in the market”, said Geoff. “A lot of people would like to know a bit more about this mystery, but haven’t got the time to wade through the many deeply academic books and papers which go into minute detail. What we needed was a book which ordinary people could read easily and get a good appreciation of the subject, quickly. Those who have an extra interest will be able to get more information from my next book.”
Geoff makes no claim to a privileged education or life-long research: just an interest in the subject, curiosity and much diligence. Schooling during the war was basic and he left with no exams. His career was in cattle breeding at a time when the home counties were at the forefront of livestock production worldwide. “I learnt to write by observing people and events as I travelled around the farms of Hampshire as an artificial inseminator. In time, they got me to write promotional material for the Cattle Breeders’ Association and the Milk Marketing Board, and I went on from there.”
Those experiences were put to good use in his first book, published at the age of 83, A Plain Village, full of episodes shrewdly observed from real life and written in a colourful and flowing prose which allows the complex plot to unfold smoothly and clearly, and fills the reader’s head with pictures.
Since then, there have been several novels, a collection of poems and a book of essays and short stories, but the Shakespeare research stands out, having been accepted by the de Vere Society in this country and by the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship in the USA. And there seems to be much more to come, as Geoff proves that retirement can present us with the time and space to follow our interests and create many new ones.
Article by Steve Sargent