The Warburton Souling Play - Performances 2007
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The Saracen's Head logo An interpretation, from our perspective, of how each evening was received.

As the season progresses it is normal for us to give a brief description of how we got on in each venue for each evening. Here you'll find the reports of the season as we wrote them at the time, except now with the odd change of tense here and there.

1st November 2007

The Gang ready to set out the the Saracen's Head

Well there we go..... another season gets going with a somewhat unusual first night. Unusual in that one of the pubs scheduled for the evening's tour turned out to be closed! This left us with a very leisurely evening of three performances. A gentle start to the season for Beelzebub - wait until tomorrow though.

We started as usual with our first performance for 2007 in the Saracen's Head. To be expected it was a somewhat quiet evening there although substantially more than we have known on some occasions in the past. Our new hosts, together with their staff peering out of various kitchen and side room doors, were very attentive throughout.  After leaving there, to get to our second venue we have to pass the Rope and Anchor, our scheduled third pub for the evening, and in doing so we noticed that it was closed! We had a report of it being closed one day last weekend so it was not quite the shock it could have been. We knew it was going to be a new landlord on the 1st November so we were perhaps hoping it would have been open under the new management.

Regardless, we carried on to our second venue for the evening, the Axe and Cleaver in Dunham. Probably the quietest we've known the pub for some time, but still very worthwhile and it still came with the same excellent hospitality from the landlord.

After a somewhat longer 'rest' there than we'd normally have we moved directly onto our last pub for the evening, the Vine Inn in Dunham. Over the last few years we've found ourselves playing to a quieter and quieter pub, however, not so this year. It was a very busy place with both main rooms that we play to being well filled. This more than made up for the closed Rope and Anchor. I bit of noise from one table near the door and some of the regulars who have seen the play before but otherwise everyone was very attentive. We, well actually Beelzebub of all people, then had explain to our host there, who were also new in that day, what was going on and to apologise for throwing them in at the deep end. It seems their predecessors had not passed on that we were visiting. It all adds to the fun.

So after an earlier than usual finish that was it until the following night.

2nd November 2007

Bizarre is the only word that we could find to describe this evenings tour.

We started at the Roebuck in Mobberley and obviously walked into a situation where one table of diners were more interested in getting their food, and from their attitude this was perhaps getting a bit late.  They unfortunately proceeded to ensure that the others in the pub around them could not enjoy the play as well as they should have done. Fortunately we did have plenty of very favourable comments from other tables, however, it's always upsetting when one person spoils it for other people - that's life.  The other disadvantage here especially for Beelzebub, was that there was not a beer to be had, it was wine only on every table.

From here a quick walk across the road took us to the Bull.  And in this pub we were welcomed by a really cosy setting, plenty of people and a roaring fire.  As soon as we started performing we were immediately swamped by people taking pictures!  It turned out that one of the groups was a party of Spaniards over for the weekend visiting friends in Mobberley.  We certainly left them with a vision of the English countryside that they are likely to remember.  A very well received and enjoyable performance.  An interesting situation arose when the landlord asked us "but I thought you were coming on the ninth of November?" we had to point out to him that it was indeed this evening that we had arranged to come.  Anyway he was more than happy with the situation.

From here we went to the Church and another performance which continued with the bizarre nature of the evening because as soon as we started the players were immediately swamped by loads of children.  It seemed there had been a party of some sort going on and these children appeared out of every nook and cranny, from outside and from round the back.  The result of this was that the play took on a slightly pantomime feel to it which when the doctor had to explain that he had "seen houses thatched with pancakes high" the children retorted back "oh no you haven't" to which the doctor replied "oh yes I have" and so it went on to the amusement of one and all. Even here it seems as though we were expected on the 9th and not on this night, Mmmmm.

From this it was to The Railway where we played to a grand total of three customers, one member of the bar staff and three dogs!  Again a very bizarre performance first by being welcomed whilst we were singing by the dogs  in the way that dogs do with plenty of barking and then with the doctor nonchalantly leaning on the bar quietly giving his speech to the three customers.  This was followed by Beelzebub adding to his speech the story of what had happened at the previous pub!  Nevertheless once we had finished the three people here were very welcoming and wanted to know all about the play and what we were up to and then proceeded to buy a round of drinks for us.  A gesture for which we were very thankful and appreciative.Thank you again

So off we went this time heading for the Chapel House.  However, when we got there there were three cars in the car park and three people inside.  At this point we decided to give the pub a miss and go straight to the last performance of the night at the Greyhound in Ashley.  Whilst not full the pub had a sufficient number of people to make it worthwhile although one group were a bit boisterous at first.  This was quite interesting in that the women in the group obviously wanted to watch the play whilst the fellas wanted to heckle, fortunately the women won with some the men being sent out for a smoke! It soon settled down to being a very enjoyable performance to finish off the evening, with it yet again being an early finish due to one pub being missed out.  Such a shame, it just meant we had to sup some more beer!

Tomorrow we move on to Altrincham and Hale for hopefully a more settled run-of-the-mill evening of performances.

3rd November 2007

Well what a night that was and what a difference a day makes.  It was certainly one of those settled evenings however, it was by no means run-of-the-mill.  Indeed we would say that it came in the top end category labelled excellent.

We started out with a quiet-ish but a very well-received performance in the Malt Shovels in Altrincham.  We were very surprised by the number of mobile phones that came out to record the performance.  All told a very enjoyable first performance of the evening.  From here it was a quick walk up Victoria Street to the Market Tavern where we had to ensure that the performance was finished for 9.30pm prior to the live band starting.  As there was a live band on you can imagine that we had quite a full pub to perform to.  Once again it was a very attentive audience even though the place was very busy.  After we had finished there was a lot of interest in the background and history of the play and quite a few of us were kept well occupied chatting to people.  We were also very honoured by being bought a drink by one member of the audience.  The gesture that is always appreciated and for which we are always thankful.

From here we went next door to the Orange Tree for the third performance where we had to play against the piped music. Also the pub layout had changed slightly that whilst not a significant change made the entrance a little more awkward. Also, one group of people had seemingly made up their mind that they were not going to enjoy it and were going to make sure that nobody else enjoyed it as well.  Still, once the hat went round we were pleasantly surprised by the number of people that had appreciated it to make it worthwhile.

The next pub was the Quarry Bank,  a short journey away in Timperley.  And this was one of those performances that had the wow factor.  When we arrived there was the usual general murmurings of chattering from inside the pub, however once we started singing at the door that considerably subdued.  By the time the Enterer had uttered his first line the pub was deathly silent to the stage of being able to hear a pin drop.  Absolutely magic.  The rest of the play was done to a silent and attentive audience, brilliant, with the whole performance there being topped off by the landlady buying us all a drink.  The general feeling after we'd finished was that they don't get much better than this .

How to follow that?  We followed that by going to the Railway in Hale were we are normally presented with an absolutely heaving pub.  On this occasion though  it was not the fullest we've known it as the Turkish Champion had some floor room to 'die' on, however, against normal standards it was still a full pub.  And in fact I felt that the performance was still excellent simply by the fact that we weren't having to shout as we would normally do there and because it wasn't standing room only so all those people seated could see the play and appreciate it.  It was a very fitting end to an excellent evening and was concluded once again by the landlady furnishing us all with a round of drinks on the house.

The bonus of this evening was that we collected a record amount for ever one evening, All to the benefit of Cotebrook House.

We now have a few days to recover before the play continues on its rounds next Thursday.

8th November 2007

This turned out to be another relaxing evening as we ended up being 1 pub down. We’d visited the Windmill in Carrington to request to perform there however the person to ask had not been around so we were unable to confirm our being welcome.

After meeting at the Saracen’s Head, and leaving somewhat later than intended, we headed over to Hollins Green for first performance at the Black Swan. It was somewhat quiet with around 10 people max, however it seemed well received. We were told the pub starts to fill after around 9.30pm so we may want to consider going there later next year. From there we went down the road to The Old Red Lion and an excellent reception just prior to the weekly quiz starting. We were made more than welcome and were bought a drink by the Landlord who indicated we’d be welcome for next year.

Back over to the other side of the Ship Canal to Statham and The Star. Again quiet, probably not helped by a pile of roadworks and a one-way system outside the pub.

From here, and in view of the Windmill not being checked out, we went straight over to The Church Inn in Flixton. An excellent performance there to a busy pub, especially so due to the CAMERA branch meeting being held there. And that conclude our forth evening of the season. Tomorrow we move on to the Agden and Lymm area for our penultimate night prior to our big last day.

9th November 2007

We started off this evening's tour by visiting the Barn Owl in Agden.  This was a pub that we've not been to for some time, in fact we discovered that it was probably 11 years since we last performed here.  It was a very nice performance to start the evening with sufficient people around the bar and a few people eating to make it worthwhile.

From here it was up the hill to Broomedge and to the Jolly Thresher, one of our regular venues.  Perhaps quieter than we have normally seen it nevertheless still enough people to make it worthwhile with quite a number of people coming from round the back to watch us.  It turned out that we got there just in time before a singer came on to perform in the pub from whom we received compliments. From here it was a short trip down the road to the Wheatsheaf and a most excellent reception from a very busy pub.  This performance was also memorable as it was the first time that the Turkish Champion completely fluffed his lines following a bit of heckling from the audience.  In fact he blew it so well that he had to go out and come back in again and start from the beginning, much to the amusement of us and the audience!  Following us being bought a drink by the landlord we then moved on to Lymm.

First we went to the Bull and to what can only be described as one of the poorer receptions here.  Normally it is a very cosy pub to do the Play in and where we have had some very nice receptions in the past but on this occasion it just did not gel.  Following a quick walk down the road we then did the last performance for the evening in the Spread Eagle.  This was a fairly quiet finish to the evening as it turned out that the pub had been full up until about an hour earlier.  And note has been made and this could see us altering the order of tour for next year.

All told not a bad evening and now all that awaits us is our final day for the season.

10th November 2007

Well, the last day of this year's season and what can be said other than just excellent!

We started with our now usual performance at the Warburton Autumn Fair.  We have never seen the church as full as this and so it gave us a real boost to the start of the day. It is becoming apparent that the combination on the Play and the Autumn Fair are working hand in hand to each other's benefit.

From here we took the bus into Heatley and walked up through Oughtringhton and onto Cotebrook House where we performed for the residents there.  After this it was then back to the Saracen's Head for a brief adjournment until we went out in the evening.

After the break we took the bus into Dunham to perform at the Axe and Cleaver.  It was the usual well-received performance there in a well populated pub.  Once again we thank the landlord for his hospitality and for buying us all a drink.

Back on the bus again to get to the Farmers Arms in Heatley for the final run-in of the evening working our way back to the Saracen's Head.  Again it was very well received in here although it is always a difficult pub to play to as it has a very long bar area thus making it difficult to keep the interest of all in the pub at the same time.

After finishing at the Farmers Arms we then set off down the road in the direction of the Green Dragon for the penultimate performance.  A very welcoming audience again and it's always nice to see people contributing at the end of the performance, a gesture that is of course meant to be a 'bringer of good luck for the following year'. Occasionally however, as here, we get the odd person who refuses to contribute and in not doing so does not accept that good luck. All this was winding us up nicely for the last performance, especially as we were originally a little unsure as to whether we would be able to perform here. The previous landlord had recently left and the temporary landlord was a little unsure but fortunately the new permanent landlord permitted us, to which were are very thankful, and the rest is history.

So that performance over, one last walk half a mile down the road to the Saracen's Head for the final performance of the season.  We were starting to get quite nervous as to how many people were going to be at the Saracen's Head as we'd heard so much about who was not going to be there, and of people doing other things etc.  It all turned out to be one big panic.  The Saracen's Head was heaving and from the moment the first word of the song was uttered it was silence.  One of the most magical Enterer's introductions I've ever been privileged to do - it even beat the Quarry Bank the previous week.  That set off one of the best, no, THE BEST, final performances that we have ever done.  The evening was concluded with much music and singing and of course the hotpot supper very kindly provided free of charge by the Saracen's Head, a gesture which is always appreciated and to which we are always very thankful.  A fantastic evening.

That just leaves us to once again to offer our thanks to the staff of the Saracen’s Head for their help, hospitality and enthusiasm for the Souling Play, and with particular respect to the last day’s events.

This page updated: 11th November 2007.