The Maskers' Studio Theatre
6 - 11 December 2021

Friday performances at 8pm, other nights at 7:30pm.


Ticket price includes a glass of mulled wine (or orange juice) and a mince pie!


The Reviews


9 December 2021

Christmas traditions… opening advent calendars… the arrival of a certain big red lorry… singing carols… decorating the tree… writing cards… wrapping presents… mulled wine, mince pies and egg nog… All signal that Christmas is coming – and with the return of their annual Christmas show after an enforced hiatus, Maskers Theatre Company are adding to these seasonal festivities.
A Box of Delights is an assortment of Christmas fun and nostalgia: music, poems and stories, with an interval of mulled wine and mince pies brought to your candle-lit table, and the promise of a “relaxed and gentle evening’s entertainment”.
The collection of instantly recognisable, less familiar and originally devised pieces is mostly read from folders, which can be a tricky skill to master and keep the audience engaged. Although some of the cast are more accomplished with this performance style than others, all had their moments to shine, while the interaction between the cast and audience became a big part of the entertainment!
Eminent story-teller, Philip de Grouchy, had the audience eating out of his hands, particularly with his rendition of Prinderella & The Cince in a masterclass of diction, pace and Spoonerisms.
Jo Iacovou and Jackie Foyle prove with their individual monologues how much skill is needed to ‘read’ performances will flair and aplomb. Their vocal quality helps the words leap off the page to create crystal clear images in your imagination and are very reminiscent of good quality audio/radio dramas.
I love a good ghost story – and Dark Christmas (narrated here in three parts by Anna Hussey) worked a treat. While the audience were laughing, pre-empting jokes (or inserting their own, particularly with Jane Russell after the interval!) and joining in with the more humorous stories and poems, you could hear a pin drop for most of the ghost story (broken only by a gasp, sharp intake of breath or nervous giggle at the proper moments).
As with any sweet or savoury assortments, there’s something for everyone in this collection, including Sue Dashper’s touch of blackmail, Heather Callaway’s poetry, David Jobson unravelling the mysteries behind Christmas customs, and Alan Watson’s explanation of why the inn keeper isn’t part of the Nativity scene. There’s even a pantomime to enjoy! Although it may not be as you know it, it’s definitely more than “Alright…” (you have to be there!).
If you’re expecting innovative, edgy, provocative theatre, you won’t find it in this production. What you will find is a very enjoyable, amiable piece of festive frivolity, supplying some much-needed Christmas cheer. Set in the intimate Studio venue, with cabaret-style tables, a minimalist living room set, atmospheric lighting and some well-placed sound effects, it’s a lovely little piece of escapism on a cold winter’s evening.
Indulge yourself in A Box of Delights until Saturday 11 December (7.30pm each evening). Directors Jill Desborough and Brian Stansbridge have produced a show that supplies just what it says on the box – a delightful evening’s assorted entertainment! Enjoy!

- Anne Waggott

Audience Comments

"Really enjoyed this show last night. Such a cosy start to Christmas with lovely prose and poetry. I loved the ghost story too… made every jump in the audience . Well done Maskers" - K.G.

"What a joy – the whole show was full of surprises" - E.E.

"This is my first time to visit Maskers Studio – really enjoying the show and will definitely come again" - Anon

"Your 'Box of delights' was a delight. We looked forward to enjoying the evening and were thoroughly satisfied. There was something for everyone and we were really put into the mood for Christmas. Our sincere thanks to all the talented front and behind the scenes folk." - R.R.

A joyous selection of Christmas verse and stories

The Maskers are back with the traditional Christmas anthology

Come and join us for a traditional helping of Christmas fun and nostalgia as we treat you to an evening of Christmas verse and stories, and possibly some occasional music. It will be our informal cabaret-style seating arrangement.

So gather your friends and come out for a relaxed evening of gentle entertainment.

Directors & Cast

The Directors of this production are Jill Desbourough & Brian Stansbridge
While Jill has been involved with many Maskers' shows, both open air and Studio productions, Christmas shows are particularly close to her heart. The first Maskers' production that she appeared in was Christmas is A-Comin' in 2014. Since then, she has appeared in Mistletoe Junction (2016) and Let it Snow (2017) and stage-managed An Edwardian Christmas Soiree (2018). Now, having had a first go at directing with Quartet (February 2020), she is thrilled to be co-directing this year's show with Brian and hopes that the audience will enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit with a mix of familiar fare and a few new pieces.

A member of Maskers for much longer than he cares to remember, Brian has been involved in many shows, both as an actor and director. Recent acting credits include: Tim in The Flint Street Nativity, Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote, the Station Master in Mistletoe Junction and Long John Silver in Treasure Island. During his acting life, Brian has made an unintentional habit of taking over parts at short notice when other actors fall ill. He swears he didn’t poison them. Recent directing credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Mistletoe Junction, Room at the Inn, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Servant of Two Masters and The Comedy of Errors. During the Covid restrictions, Brian wrote and directed a one act play called Parklife, which we performed in parks and open spaces around Southampton.

The Cast

Sue Dashper
During Sue’s time in Maskers, she has been involved in many productions including: Contractions and Metamorphosis in the Studio and Sitting Pretty and An Italian Straw Hat at the Nuffield Theatre. Sue particularly enjoys the open-air productions and was part of The Watch in Much Ado About Nothing this summer. Previous outdoor performances were in Don Quixote, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Jungle Book, Anne Boleyn, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night. Sue was last seen playing panicky vicar’s wife, Evonne, in Out of Focus.

Anna Hussey
Anna joined Maskers 4 years ago and has been very busy both on and off stage. Debuting in Wyrd Sisters, she has played Nina in 100, Beatrice in this summer’s open-air production of Much Ado about Nothing and Viki in Yards Apart. Anna also contributes backstage and with marketing. Anna has been involved with local dramatic groups since 2014 and started off exclusively in costume. She has also performed with SUP in And Then There Were None, The Railway Children and has just finished a run of Night of the Living Dead.

Jane Russell
Without any shadow of a doubt, the run up to Christmas is Jane’s favourite time of year and the opportunity to share that festive joy with others is a real treat. Jane has been a member of Maskers for a few years, most recently seen performing as a cleaner in Sharks in the Custard and before that as Mary in The Flint Street Nativity. Jane has also recently performed and directed for RAODS. Jane loves the intimacy of performing in the Studio and she hopes you enjoy the Christmas cheer that this production brings.

Jackie Foyle
A first for Jackie, who is normally on the outskirts, helping out, doing front of house and enjoying socials. Other than small parts in school plays, crazy turns at church and Maskers Camp and silly sketches with friends, acting has not been a regular feature in her life. But Covid saw her acting out a poem about pandemic hair woes online for Maskers and an invitation to join A Box of Delights came at a time when she was looking for a new challenge! No lines to learn by rote so how could she say 'No!' A steep but fun learning curve has begun.

Heather Callaway
When Heather joined Maskers in 2018, she fulfilled a childhood dream of being involved in amateur drama. Her only regret has been that she waited for retirement to do so. The year before, she had been part of the community chorus for The Grapes of Wrath at the late-lamented Nuffield Theatre. Maskers gave her the chance to have fun outdoors at Hamptworth with Don Quixote during the hot summer of 2018, then, at Christmas 2019, she played the part of Star in The Flint Street Nativity, when the whole cast pretended to be six-year-olds. Now she is thrilled to be back at the Studio, contributing to Maskers’ Christmas 2021 production, A Box of Delights.

Alan Watson
Alan has been a Masker for over forty years and has been involved in many productions in various locations including Maskers Studio, Nuffield Theatre and Hamptworth Lodge. His favourite roles have been in Journey’s End, Home, King Lear, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Importance of Being Earnest and Ladies’ Day as well as A Remembrance Day Anthology.

Philip De Grouchy
A member of the Society since the early 1970's, Philip has played a large variety of parts in every kind of show and has been a very active actor this season, playing Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing, Mark in Yards Apart and now being part of the company for A Box of Delights. Previous productions include Quartet, An Italian Straw Hat, Ten Times Table, The Flint Street Nativity and many Christmas shows, some of which he directed.

David Jobson
David has a love for Shakespeare and was last seen playing Conrade in Much Ado About Nothing in the summer, having previously appeared for Maskers in Richard II, The Jungle Book, Ten Times Table, An Italian Straw Hat and Around the World in Eighty Days. He has also performed at the Titchfield Festival Players’ Tithe Barn, playing Cassius in Julius Caesar, Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing, Malcolm in Macbeth, Sir Thurio in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Angelo in The Comedy of Errors. David is also a trustee for Flute Theatre, a company that uses the language of Shakespeare to help autistic youngsters to communicate.

Jo Iacovou
Joanna has played many roles since joining Maskers over seventeen years ago. Favourite roles have included Ruby Birtle in When We Are Married and Rita in Educating Rita and playing multiple parts in Around the World in 80 Days. She was most recently seen playing Verges in Much Ado About Nothing. Jo branched out into directing with Our Town at Maskers Studio Theatre for which she won Best Director of a Drama in the Curtain Call Awards 2014.

Creative Team

Production Manager
Angela Stansbridge
Stage Manager
Kathryn Salmon
Set Design
Clive Weeks, Brian Stansbridge & Jill Desborough
Lighting Design
Clive Weeks & Kalim Robinson
Sound Design
Jamie McCarthy
Jon Foyle
Set Construction
Clive Weeks, Brian Stansbridge
Set Painting
Brian Stansbridge, Jill Desborough, Meri Mackney, Kathryn Salmon, Ron Wotman & Clive Weeks
Set Dressing
Angela Stansbridge
Lighting & Sound Operators
Kate Damert, Kalim Robinson, Josh Clark & Tony Bull
Wardrobe & Costumes
Adam Taussik

Ticket Information

Tickets £12

No concessions

On arrive at the Masker’s Studio

  • Please give your name (or the name the tickets were booked under) to our Box Office receptionist, and they will confirm your booking.
  • If you have pre-ordered a programme you will be given it on arrival. Programmes will also be available for £1 from a FOH member.
  • For the safety of all our audience members and staff we will be operating some Covid risk reduction actions.  Please use the hand sanitising stations on arrival, & temperature checks will be in place.  We will also be increasing the fresh air circulating throughout the venue.
  • NHS Track and Trace QR codes are available for you to check in when you are at the venue.
  • We strongly recommend that customers use face coverings whilst in the building for the safety of our staff and other customers. Please be considerate to our staff and those around you.
  • Our staff will continue to wear face coverings for your protection.
  • Our bar will be open for purchases of hot drinks and alcoholic beverages.  We would encourage you to pre-order you interval drinks, to assist our bar staff and reduce crowding at the bar.
  • We are now able to take, and prefer, card payments but can also take cash.

During your visit

  • Please continue to wear your face covering throughout your visit. Unless exempt, or whilst you are drinking in the bar only.
  • We ask you to keep movement around the theatre to a minimum.
  • Toilets are open for use. Please wash your hands before and after using the toilet facilities.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available for your use at various points around the theatre building.
  • We have installed an extra extractor fan to vent studio air to the outside pulling fresh air in from the other side of the building.
  • Where possible windows will also remain open.  This may make the venue cooler than you are used to, so please be prepared.
  • Enhanced cleaning will take place throughout the venue before, and after the performance.
  • The taking of photographs or videos whilst the show is on is not permitted.

How will we exit the building/event at the end of the performance?

  • When leaving, please do not crowd the stairwell and allow everyone to leave easily and quickly.
  • Please take any rubbish with you or leave it in the bins provided.

What if I have specific access needs?

  • The stair chair lift is available and our FOH staff will assist you should you need to use it.
  • Any other requirements may be discussed with our Box Office manager in advance of your arrival.

Book with Confidence, Exchange with Ease – COVID-19

If you or a member of your party are displaying COVID-19 symptoms or are required to self-isolate, you must not attend the theatre and all tickets in your booking will be exchanged or a gift voucher issued up to 24 hours prior to the performance. Tickets cannot be refunded after a performance has passed.

If the show is cancelled, will I get a full refund?

  • If we are required by any COVID-19 government guidance or restrictions to cancel a performance, tickets may be exchanged or refunded.

Poster, Flyer & Programme

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy;   Lighting Consultant:- Clive Weeks;   Sound Consultant:- Jamie McCarthy;   Marketing Team:- Angela Stansbridge, Anna Hussey, Abigail Caveney, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney, Paul Baker;   Front of House & Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photographer:- Clive Weeks;   Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney

click on a photo to enlarge it


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Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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