The Warburton Souling Play -
|| An interpretation, from our perspective, of
how each evening was received.
On this page it where you'll find a few notes and comments
perspective about how the performances in 2014 were received.
The first night - Friday 1st
We there we are again, the assembled Gang ready to go to the Saracen's
Head to get this year's Warburton Souling Play season off to a start.
The first night was one of a mixed outcome. The Saracen's Head was the
venue for a 50th birthday party so we started the night off with a good
start and a suitably full pub. The person who's birthday party it was
commenting that all her pears get a strip-o-gram and she gets a Souling
Play! From here we went to the Crown in Lymm and unfortunately we'd
just missed one group who left to go to another party, however those
left seemed to enjoy the play. This included a pair of
brothers who'd come to see us, finally making it after 10 years of
intending to do so as one of them had come up from Devon and the other
from Warrington. Next to the Star in Statham and a very small audience,
but nevertheless a very satisfying 'cosy' performance.
Half way through and onto the Jolly Thresher where we caught the last
of the evenings diners and another attentive reception. From there to
the Wheatshief and to the sounds of a disco coming from inside that
made our heart drop. Not to worry though as the landlord went inside
and it was all turned off whilst we performed. And we performed to a
set of sound effects that had obviously been prepared in advance and
made ready for the performance.
As we were leaving here we had a call from a friend that the next pub,
The Vine in Dunham Massey was closing early. We made haste round to the
Vine for and arrived at our arranged time of 10.30pm - just as
lights were being turned off and people were leaving. All
very disappointing so off we went 200 yards down the road to the Rope
and Anchor for a quiet drink. A 'flat' end to what otherwise was
a good start to the season.
Second night -
Tuesday 4th November
One of the problems we always encounter with a season that involves
mid week dates is the quietness of the pubs, especially the more rural
ones in the earlier part of the week. This Tuesday highlighted that
problem. We try and start a little bit earlier and concentrate on the
pubs catering for the earlier evening custom. However even with this,
our first venue, the Barn Owl, apparently had most people
much earlier than usual for meals and so most had left by the
we arrived. Not a good start. And it didn't get any better, the Old No3
had a grand total of zero people in. We duly made our apologies and
went straight to our next, the Rope and Anchor in Dunham.
not played the Rope' for several years as it did close down but was
then taken over and reopened as a high class dining pub.
it's recently changed hands again and is now run by a manager who
previously managed another pub in Dunham where we still perform. We'd
been tracked down by the manager to come and perform at the Rope - we
duly did so tonight. It was however, quiet again with most of
diners having already left.
So to make up we decided to go
back to the Vine just down the road where we were due to perform on the
Saturday evening but the pub closed early due to a family illness. We
were surprised to find quite a few people in, more then the previous
two put together. This did start to make up for the poor
From here it was into Lymm where the last three are all
in walking distance. The first, The Saddlers was quiet by normal
standards, but certainly had the most in so far. Then to the Spread
Eagle where the Manager had been promoting ourselves and the
Antrobus Soulcakers (who perform there on Saturday). This had paid off
as there were a number of people who'd come along to see us. This was
probably the best of the evening with a good number of people there
that always goes towards a more buoyant performance. Finally to The
Bull and this was back to only a few in. A disappointing end to the
night, but we look forward to the Knutsford tour tomorrow evening that,
with some reservations with it being Bonfire Night, should be well
Third night -
Wednesday 5th November
As it turned out this Wednesday was just as quiet as the previous
night. Even the staff in the various pubs where we performed commented
it was quiet for a Wednesday, presumably due to it being the 5th and
We started at the Builders on the outskirts of
Knutsford and we normally expect this to be quiet. It was much
expected with one table of rather bemused youngsters all claiming to be
poverty stricken when the hat went round but who wern't that short to
stop them going to the bar! Anyway after a drink here ourselves we
headed off to the Lord Eldon. This is always a nice cosy pub to perform
in and again it was much as expected, although a bit quieter than
normal. A good audience with people appearing from out of the side
rooms to see it.
To The Folly next, recently renamed from The
Freemasons, where there was one group who'd popped in to see
a result of the various posters the Manager had put up. Again quieter
than normal but very enjoyable. After that to the last two that we
normally expect to be full to heaving - but not this night. The first
of the two, the Rose and Crown. had much the same numbers as in the
previous (smaller) pubs but nevertheless very attentive
the play. The last one, the Cross Keys had fewer in and had
us having to contend with the cheering from a 'yard of ale'
challenge in the Tap Room! The largest table whilst watching the play,
showed little interest when the hat came round other
bad luck upon themselves by asking Beelzebub to be bought a replacement
drink! Tut tut.
Fourth night -
Thursday 6th November
And so the quietness continues. Whilst this night should really have
been described as not that bad there were still far fewer people around
than one would have expected. I say 'should really have been' as it was also marred by one
gentleman in the first pub, the Old Plough, who made a big fool of
himself by physically trying to stop the play after he was selected by
Beelzebub to be relieved of a drink. The first time that anything like
this has ever happened to us ever since the play was revived. It
unfortunately just added to the pain of what was fast becoming a very
After this we went straight onto the Volunteer in Sale where we
performed to the pre quiz audience. We were asked to perform there
slightly earlier than we have in previous years so as a result
there were less people in than one would normally have had when
minutes later. Still it was well received and appreciated by everyone,
including the new
From here we headed to Urmston and the Roebuck where the
quietness continued. The bar staff commenting that it had been
quiet all week. Yes we'd noticed!! The Steamhouse was next where it's
Open Mic Night and as usual a good appreciative crowd. To the Church
Inn in Flixton where we waited outside for a few minutes for the
Quiz to reach a suitable break before starting. All nicely timed so as we benefited from
a pub full of people.
Ordinarily this would have been an acceptable night, quieter yes, but
OK. It was however very much soured by one person.
Fifth night -
Friday 7th November
So with two nights left we were all feeling a bit nervous as to how
tonight was going to go. Surely it couldn't get worse? Well fortunately
it didn't and the first pub, The Greyhound in Ashley, was more than
adequately full at 7.30pm and so we were the recipient of a very good
It can be a bit of a rush this tour, but we still had time for a drink
and a chat to people before heading off into Altrincham and the first
one there, Costello's. Perhaps not quite as full as we've known but
nevertheless enough and a good performance followed. After being bought
a drink by the manager we moved onto the second
Altrincham, the Malt Shovels where there's always a welcoming
is always well received. No change in that tonigh thank goodnesst. The third one here, the Market
Tavern was again excellent as it more
often than not is.
Two more to do and the first was the Quarry Bank in Timperley. There
was a bit more audience participation than normal for this performance,
as the Turkish Champion found out when someone else tried to revive
him! Again we were thanked by the staff there with us being given free
drinks at the end. A gesture always fully appreciated by the Gang.
We had heard earlier that our last one, the Railway in Hale, has been
exceptionally busy recently (well I suppose the people must have been
drinking somewhere!) and so we braced ourselves for a rather loud and hectic
peformance. We waited until quite a few people had left to leave us
some room. Unfortunately loads more arrived just after we'd started to
fill the place up again resulting in that loud and hectic performance being
needed. We've made a note that it's about time we came earlier to this
pub next year.
In the end this was a very successful evening and was going
some way to undoing the memories of the first few nights.
or rather Day - Saturday 8th November
This is the day we look forward to, although it's always tinged with
sadness with it being the last of the season.
After meeting at the Saracen's Head in Warburton for lunch we headed
out to the church were we performed at the Autumn Fair. As always it's
a surreal experience doing the play in the church. After waiting for
the raffle to be drawn, only to find that none of us won anything this
year, we went to perform the play for the residents of Cotebrook House,
our chosen charity.
From here back to the Saracen's Head for some more solid and liquid
refreshments before we head out to the evening session.
The first of
these being the Axe and Cleaver in Dunham. It's always a nice reception
here and this was no exception. However whilst there we had heard that
our next pub had closed for the evening following an incident with one
of their fireplaces. So we had slightly longer here before heading to
the Black Swan in Hollins Green. It was a new manager here and she was a
little unsure about having us, however she was persuaded by the bar
staff who'd seen the play before. After what was probably the best audience
and reception so far of the season, she commented that it was wonderful
and she was very glad she had been persuaded.
Three to go and the first of these was the Brewery Tap in Lymm. This is
the second time we've performed here, the pub only being open just
under two years. After a quick chat with the manager we found we had a
splendid reception as there were just that fewer number of people in
this year than last that enabled the play be delivered much better.
Two to go.
The next one being the green Dragon in Heatley where we know we have an
enthusiastic manager with a very busy pub. It's a long wide layout inside but this didn't detract from those in the far reaches
from watching. An excellent penultimate performance of the year.
And so the the last one, the Saracen's Head, and the last performance
for 2014. Alway a lively performance this last one, and one of mixed
emotions with it being the last for the year. And so that was it, all
over. The evening continued though with its usual session of singing and music,
and of course not forgetting the butties and chips provided by the pub.
See the Itinerary
for more details of where we went.