The Maskers' Studio Theatre

24th - 29th April 2023

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

This amateur production of “Gormenghast” was presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. on behalf of Samuel French Ltd.

This production contains flashing lights, loud and sudden sound effects, and a suicide.

Recommended for ages 14 years and older.

"Voices that he shall hear when his ear is tuned…""


The Reviews


24 April 2023

This torrential Monday evening saw me wending my merry way to the Maskers Studio in Shirley, to enjoy an evening of unexpected and exciting theatre that was well worth venturing into a storm for.

Gormenghast is a show I had never had the pleasure of encountering before this evening, and after tonight’s show, I shall definitely keep an eye out for future productions.

The clever stylings of director Anna Hussey, had me “ooo”ing and “ahh”ing at her expert use of the stage and what could only be described as a masterful use of lighting states to change between scenes and locations.

It can be so easy to oversimplify a show, and leave an audience feeling underwhelmed, but Anna managed to turn an otherwise blank canvas into a cornucopia of landscapes. From our villain scaling the outside of a castle, to the depths of a forest, and even transforming into a chapel, it was all done with such simplicity that I couldn’t help but smile at how clever the director had been throughout.

Sam Hussey as Mr Flay shone from his first line to his last, with a great range vocally, and a wonderfully stern physicality. Sam had me truly believing that he was strolling the length and breadth of a castle, as he really seemed to bring a blank stage to life through nothing but his physicality and movement techniques.

Thom Jones as Titus was a very welcome late addition to the cast, as he really committed to his role as the petulant teenager that was the 77th Earl of Groan.

The sword fight he had with his real life brother Ben Jones as Steerpike was brilliantly executed, and really had me on the edge of my seat, as both Jones’ really threw themselves into it.

My one note of the evening was that I really wanted to see the character arc of Steerpike build from commoner to aristocrat, but it seemed a little sudden and rushed. Ben Jones was, however, very masterful when it came to being a great manipulator, and I couldn’t help but find myself hating the character of Steerpike, which is a testament to the actor.

The double act of Abi Linnartz and Dawn Gatrell as sisters Cora and Clarice, had me in stitches one minute, and then feeling sick the next as they morphed from Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, into their final scene Death masks. I would suggest that their choral speaking could have been tighter, but they worked so well as a double act, that this was a very minor thing.

It was really difficult to pick a star of the show this evening as there were several standout performances, but I am giving it to both Adam Taussik as Swelter the cook and Daria Standall as the Thing/Outsider.

Adam was brilliant as the drunkard chef who was just so believable as the layabout, that when his role ended, I was truly saddened we would not see his character again.

Daria also did something that any professional actor knows can be difficult, and that was saying a lot without ever uttering a word. Her physicality and wild spirit said so much, that I again wanted more of her character as soon as she left the stage each time.

I truly enjoyed being introduced to the world of Gormenghast this evening, and wish the cast and crew all the best with the rest of their run.

- Hannah-Cait Harrison

In Common

24 April 2023

Firstly, for those who haven’t yet discovered the Maskers Theatre Company it is time you did!

Since 1994 it has had its own studio theatre seating around 40. Complete with a bar, this hidden gem can be found just off Shirley High Street.

Maskers were established in 1968 and have put on well over 300 productions since then. Their open air summer plays are a particular favourite. I have seen many of their shows because you know that, whatever the genre, they will provide an extremely high standard of amateur dramatics.

Their current production of Gormenghast is one of their best yet, in fact a triumph.

That is a major achievement as this is no easy story. Back in 2000 the BBC had an expensive 4 part television adaptation. It had 120 different sets, was developed over 5 years and it bombed. Praise then to Anna Hussey, on her directorial debut, who kept things uncluttered and simple yet highly effective.

In the world of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast booktrilogy, the most central character is perhaps not a person at all, but the Gothic Gormenghast Castle, the vast ancient ancestral home of the Groans. Gormenghast Castle exerts dominance over its surroundings and its people. In this brooding world there is servitude to the building and its rituals where nothing changes and even saying the name Gormenghast conveys a sense of ghastly dread.

Author Mervyn Peake (1911- 1968) lived on Sark in the Channel Islands  twice, firstly in  1932, and then with his family in 1946. This coincided with the publication of both Titus Groan and Gormenghast. This remote island served as the inspiration for his works.

In a world bound by iron laws and rituals, two young men are struggling to make their way. Steerpike is the renegade kitchen-boy who seduces and murders his way up the social ladder. Titus Groan is the reluctant heir to Gormenghast who comes to threaten its very existence.

This play adaptation by John Constable has “pulled off the impossible” in successfully bringing Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast complex trilogy to the theatre. The Maskers have done the same with their production. There is quality throughout the cast and no weak link. Ben Jones as the scheming Steerpike was commanding. Sam Hussey as Mr Flay was believable. Adam Taussik as Swelter, the drunk cook, was convincing. Special mention to those behind the sound and lighting who were essential to the dramatic effect of the play.

- Martin Brisland

Mervyn Peake's twisted gothic drama!

This stage adaptation of Mervyn Peake's classic “Gormenghast” by John Constable captures the brutal essence and wondrous charm of the original books. The focus of the stage adaptation is placed on the richness of the characters and the physical storytelling of the performers to transport the audience through the epic catacombs of Gormeghast’s corridors, guiding them through this twisted gothic drama.

Two young souls born worlds apart in society; one the heir to Gormenghast and the other a lowly kitchen porter; each desperate for a different fate that could shake the very foundations of the castle, built on sacred traditions and rigid social order. Whilst Titus, the 77th Earl of Groan and heir to Gormenghast prefers to ignore his duties and spit on the stones; Steerpike slithers into the lives and minds of the hierarchy, crawling higher and higher towards power.

And if a few “obstacles” stand in the way? Well, what are a mere few lives when compared to the chance to carve out one’s own destiny.

How will each find their way and can the order within ever be changed?

Director & Cast

The Director of this production is Anna Hussey
Anna had a passion for theatre from a young age and pursued this further by studying Drama at Aberystwyth University. There she specialised in costume and stage design, as well as translating plays to stage. Although not pursued as a career, Anna has been involved with local theatre groups in a variety of capacities. Anna’s debut with Maskers was in 2018 with Wyrd Sisters in the ensemble and since then she has been honoured to be involved in a wide range of productions, including physical pieces like 100 in 2019, classic Shakespeare with Much Ado About Nothing in 2021, and performing in Totton Festival’s winner for Best Original Script Yards Apart in 2022.
Gormenghast is Anna’s directing debut with Maskers and she is excited to share her vision.

Chorus - the Voices of Gormenghast is played by Jo Fox
Jo has been an active Masker for 13 years and has played a variety of roles in that time, including Lady Jane Rochford in Anne Boleyn, Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, Ursula in Much Ado about Nothing and a monkey in The Jungle Book. She most recently appeared in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where she played, among other things, the wardrobe door, so Jo is excited to be popping up as a door again in Gormenghast (as well as helping create a sense of the epic castle with movement and set)! As well as acting, Jo is also kept busy in her role as company secretary on the Maskers’ committee.

Countess - Gertrude, Countess of Groan; mother of Titus is played by Marie McDade
Marie’s first appearance with The Maskers was in Mitchell’s Wings in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed a wide range of roles both in the studio and on the outdoor stage. These have included: Bagheera in The Jungle Book, Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Granny Weatherwax in Wyrd Sisters, the comedies A Bunch of Amateurs and Out of Focus and, most recently, The Three Musketeers.

Barquentine - Master of Ritual is played by Duncan Randall
Duncan started as a character actor at primary school. He has been involved in various community theatre groups for over a decade. On moving to the south coast, he joined Titchfield Festival Theatre (TFT), creating roles such as, Bri in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Enobarbus (Anthony and Cleopatra), Goldberg (The Birthday Party) and the Landlord in Jim Cartwright’s Two. Duncan joined the Maskers for The Three Musketeers playing Athos, amongst others, and was recently in The Picture of Dorian Grey. Duncan has enjoyed the delicious language of Barquentine and exploring being a grumpy old man, no change!

Sepulchrave - 76th Earl of Groan; Father of Titus is played by Paul Baker
Paul has been in over twenty-five shows in the open air for Maskers and rarely ventures indoors. During that time, he has played a variety of roles including Weasel Norman in Wind in the Willows and Thomas Cromwell in Anne Boleyn and often multiple parts in the same production, as evidenced only last summer when he played four different characters in The Three Musketeers. This is Paul’s first production inside for over a year, so he fully expects it to snow - well there is definitely a storm in the play!

Dr. Prunesquallor - Physician to house of Groan is played by Molly McDade
Molly has been part of Maskers since 2014 and is delighted to be playing the hysterical Doctor Prunesquallor. As well as being in various Maskers' productions, including A Bunch of Amateurs and Around the World in Eighty Days, she is also a member of Southampton Operatic Society and has appeared in Legally Blonde and Crazy for You at MAST Studios.

Fuchsia - Titus' elder sister is played by Rachel Di Nucci
Rachel joined Maskers in 2020. She’s been in Four Weddings and an Elvis as Fiona and she portrayed Porthos and Milady de Winter in The Three Musketeers last summer. She looks forward to playing the delicate Lady Fuchsia, though she will be sad to miss out on the fight scenes. On balance though, she is grateful not to be playing another criminal obsessed with post, if only so she doesn’t need to try and keep track of an ever-growing pile of props!

Cora - Sepulcrave's sister; Titus's Aunt; twin to Clarice is played by Abi Linnartz
This is Abi’s second outing with Maskers, having appeared in The Three Musketeers in the summer of 2022. Previous productions include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Servant of Two Masters, A Day In the Death of Joe Egg, Antony and Cleopatra, The Bible (Abridged), The Last Secret, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Mapp and Lucia (all with Titchfield Festival Theatre); Murder Most Fowl, Hattie Blotter and the Philanthropists Groan (Murdered for Money). Abi has also performed at the Brighton Fringe in The Field Street Monologues (Rusty Bucket Productions).

Clarice - Sepulcrave's sister; Titus's Aunt; twin to Cora is played by Dawn Gatrell
Dawn previously performed in pantos at The Bent Brief pub and in The Shadow Factory, which premiered at the Nuffield City Theatre. This is her second appearance with the Maskers. She was first seen getting to grips with Shakespeare as the tavern owner in The Merry Wives of Windsor. In Gormenghast, Dawn will be playing Clarice, one of the twin aunts: dim-witted, largely overlooked, but thirsty for power.

Mr. Flay - ancient Retainer to the House of Groan is played by Sam Hussey
Sam has been with Maskers since 2019, when he played Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night. Since then, he’s been involved in several productions, playing everything from Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing to escaped Texan convict Fist in Four Weddings and an Elvis.
Most recently he was very excited to play Mr Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - a joint production between Maskers and Light Up youth theatre.
Gormenghast was the first play he ever went to see with his now wife Anna (the director), and he’s thrilled to bring another classic literary character to life as Mr Flay!

Swelter - the cook is played by Adam Taussik
Since joining Maskers 19 years ago, Adam has played characters of many ranks, from peasants to kings (with a smattering of vicars, soldiers and bears), but this will be the first chef – though not the first vinophile. For this show, Adam will also be keeping up the swashbuckling tone of The Three Musketeers, and wields a cleaver as well as the next man...

Steerpike - a kitchen scrubber are played by Ben Jones
Ben has recently returned to local acting after a ‘break’ of 17 years. Over the last year he has played Herr Zeller in the Sound of Music, one of Lola’s Angels in Kinky Boots (both with Spot On Productions) and, whilst rehearsing for Gormenghast, is also playing Glen Guglia in SDMS’s production of The Wedding Singer in Fareham. Ben is delighted to be playing Steerpike as his first role with Maskers. Having first been attracted to the source material as a teenager, he is thrilled at the opportunity to bring one of his favourite literary characters to infernal life(!), alongside such a talented cast of fellow performers.

Titus - 77th Earl of Groan; heir to Gormenghast is played by Thom Jones
Thom is a multi-genre street dance teacher and teaches on the world’s only government-accredited street dance teacher training course. He is also 1 of 6 street dance examiners for the Royal Academy of Dance. In his spare time, he spends most of his time with his dog, and enjoys performing in local am dram. This is Thom’s first production with Maskers and he has done a brilliant job stepping into the role at the last minute with only 2 weeks rehearsal.

The Thing - an outcast wild child is played by Daria Standall
Daria has come to the UK from Ukraine and this is her first appearance for Maskers. She is enjoying creating her character and working with the rest of the company.

The Ensemble - Grey scrubbers, servants and guards are played by the company

Creative Team

Production Manager
James Lawson
Stage Manager
Jill Desborough
Set Design
Zoe Harris
Set Painting
Paul Green, Zoe Harris, James Lawson, Anna Hussey, Sam Hussey, Jo Fox
Set Construction
James Lawson, Clive Weeks, Zoe Harris
Lighting Design
Tom Foyle
Sound Design
Jamie McCarthy
Lighting & Sound Operator
Tom Foyle
Wardrobe & Costumes
Susan Wilson
Adam Taussik
Show Photography
Ian Wilson

Ticket Information

Tickets £13

No concessions

Please do not come to the Theatre if you feel unwell, have a temperature, have a continuous or intrusive cough, or have temporarily lost your sences of taste and smell.

On arrival 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 are still operating some Covid risk reduction actions.  Please use the hand sanitising stations on arrival.  We will also be increasing the fresh air circulating throughout the venue.
  • Wearing of face coverings is optional.
  • 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

  • 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.

Exiting 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

Anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or required to self-isolate, must not attend the theatre and their ticket 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, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney, Paul Baker;   Front of House & Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photographer:- Clive Weeks;   Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney
Image Gallery
Click on an image to view it.

click on a photo to enlarge it

Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal
Dress Rehearsal

Thank You

Your message has been sent. You should receive a confirmation email shortly. If the email does not arrive it is possible that your email address was not entered correctly, please try resubmitting your enquiry.

Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

 Contact Us


Our postal address is: Maskers Theatre Company, Unit 1, Off Emsworth Road, Shirley, Southampton, SO15 3LX

General Enquiries Form

Please use this contact form for contacting us about any issue. Use the drop-down list to ensure your enquiry gets directed to the correct person.

Any contact details provided will only be used in relation to your inquiry and will be deleted after conclusion.

 Support Us

 Join Us

Join our Email list
and receive updates
about our shows

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Are you a member of Maskers Theatre Company?

The Maskers Theatre Company will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing by email. Please confirm you would like to hear from us by ticking the box below:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.


 Update Contact Details

Other local theatre events

Some of our performance venues:
Maskers Studio Theatre
The Berry Theatre
Townhill Park House

View our Image Gallery

Access Members Site (Maskers Members only)