The Warburton Souling Play - Performances 2015
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The Saracen's Head logo An interpretation, from our perspective, of how each evening was received.

On this page is where you'll find a few notes and comments from our perspective about how the performances in 2015 were received as we progress through the season.

The first night - Saturday 1st November 2014

The Gang ready to go to the Saracen's Head to get this year's Warburton Souling Play season off to a start.

We started at around 8.15pm in the Saracen's Head to an expectedly quiet pub with it being a Monday. However there was one main group at a table who were not quite sure what was going on!

From there to the Vine Inn and a performance before the start of Quiz Night gave us a reasonable, but slightly lesser audience than expected. At the next pub, The Wheatsheaf,e we were told it was Darts Night and the team was at home. It unfortunately wasn't, but we did have an audience amongst those there playing Dominoes, as well as a few others. At the the last pub, the Black Swan it was Jazz Night so as it was break-time in the session we did the Play at the front stage area to ready made audience. Many smiling faces together with a few bemused expressions - nope, you're right, this is not Jazz.

For a Monday evening this was probably as good as it was going to get, although the odd extra darts team or two would have been better. Also worthy of mention is two new Gang members taking it in turns under the horse. They get this short indoctrination before being thrown in with speaking parts next weekend.

The second night - Friday 6th November 2015

We met at the Saracen's Head this evening before heading off to our first venue, The Barn Owl at Agden Wharf. This is more of an eatery pub and so was chosen for the earlier start with that in mind. It was however still on the quieter but sufficient there to witness one of our new members of the gang taking on the Turkish Champion part. And a very successful effort it was as well. From here, and due to what can only be described as an 'administrative error', we then went to the Star at Statham on the other side of Lymm where rather than performing to the one or two people in the main area of the pub, we performed in the fuller side room.

So from Statham it was back to Broomedge (on the same side of Lymm as The Barn Owl!) and the Jolly Thresher. This has been a regular pub for many, many years now and whilst quieter than usual it was nevertheless a good and well received performance from those there.

Our next section of the tour was in the middle of Lymm where it was all in walking distance. The first being the Saddlers Arms, a splendid pub to perform in and as always it's well received from a very attentive audience. The next was in staggering distance, well across the road to be precise, and the Old Post Office. The pub has two areas, one at the front and the other, larger area at the rear. It's always difficult to get through to the back so as the front section was very much full we just preformed there. Following the performance we were on the receiving end of a drinks offer from the barman, an offer greatfully accepted! 

One last one, and this was The Bull's Head. A small but very cosy pub in which to perform, yet again we've seen it busier but even so it was a fitting end to the evening. Next evening, we're off to Knutsford.
NOTE: We did get an unexpected item in the collection this evening, something we think wasn't intended so if you think you've lost something please get in touch (details at the bottom of the Souling homepage)

The third night - Saturday 7th November 2015

Well what a night that was. Knutsford and Six very different performances to six very different pubs.

This started out at the Builders on the Mobberley Road just outside Knutsford, a nice cosy pub, always with a few in and with no need to be loud - a nice gentle start for our new recruit as King George. Plenty of strange looks from people passing on their way back from a local bonfire and fireworks display. After this it was into the centre of Knutsford to abandon the transport as the rest of the evening was on foot there.

So the first one there was the recently refurbished and re-opened Cross Keys. Here it was busy and noisy so this did therefore require us to be loud! Even so there was so much noise from those near the door that we're not sure just how many people toward the back heard it all. Regardless, everyone in hearing range was enthusiastic and enjoyed it all. A quick stagger two doors up the road to the Rose and Crown to a very different atmosphere. Playing just inside the door one is presented with an area of tall tables with most people facing towards us behind which was the main bar again with everyone turning towards us. This as a whole giving a stage feeling to the performance, especially as everyone quietened down, and whilst strong voices were needed it was nothing like as that needed in the Cross Keys. Very well received.

So a slightly longer walk to the next, The Tap and Bottle. This is a new pub, and so new to us, as was the layout. It's a rather small pub, not going back very far, but quite wide, with the bar downstairs and the main seating upstairs. This involved the introduction song being sung on the stairs and us going up one at a time. It did present its congestion problems, especially after one customer managed to knock his entire drink over near the top so we had the staff clearing that up as well as us trying to get up and down! It nevertheless turned out being a quieter performance that was needed and, as everyone saw and heard it, an excellent reception from those there.

  The last two were two regulars with the first being the White Bear. We were aware that the number of TV screens looked to have been  reduced in this pub so we knew that we hadn't to content with those. As it turned out we did however, have to contend with one very enthusiastic and very noisy table near the door so it was back up to full volume again! We're not sure just how much of the Play was heard by others in the pub, we suspect not much by the fact that some ended up following us to the last one. It's interesting how one table's over enthusiastic enjoyment can dampen the enjoyment of others. 

So to the last one and this year we'd saved the Lord Eldon to the last as it's a nice cosy pub with a nice traditional feel to it. The performance also came in that category so the volume was turned down accordingly. A nice end to the night.

The forth night - Thursday 12th November 2015

Our forth night of Souling started at The Old Plough in Ashton on Mersey village. It's always a welcoming pub this and even at the start of the evening there were quite a few people in resulting in a pleasant start to the evening.

From here it was onto the Volunteer in Sale where there's usually a quiz on and we perform at the start. Except tonight that is when the quiz master was on holiday so it left us with a limited audience. 

We then headed into Urmston where we performed at the Prairie Schooner. This is a small 'shop fronted' type pub, one room at the front and the other at the rear. This resulted in most of the play being performed in the passageway between the two where everyone could see it. It was a very quite environment to start with so no need to be loud, in fact we almost felt we were intruding - but then that's Souling! Still, we were given a good reception and it was here that we were met by three Guisers from Winster having come over to watch Antrobus and ourselves.

Two more to go, and two regulars at that with the first being the Steamhouse in the Urmston Station building. It's always good to perform here and this was no exception, it being well received from the Enterer's opening words, in fact the Enterer was quite aware of the scramble from one room at the side to get the the doorway to watch us - terrific response - all through the Play in fact. So from one well received venue to the next, the Church Inn in Flixton. Here we perform at the end of the quiz and we were glad that this did have its quiz running and was just comming to its conclusion as we arrived. A five minute wait and on we went to a ready made and attentive audience. And made even better when the Landlord bought us all a drink at the end. A splendid end to the evening and it was here our visitors from Winster had to depart, seemingly having had a splendid time.

The fifth night - Friday 13th November 2015

So where do we go tonight? It's the penultimate night and as usual it was our tour around Altrincham, Hale and Timperley, but starting at the Greyhound in Ashley. We have an early start for this night of 7.45pm so as to catch the early evening attendees that the pub is renowned for. Indeed, well attended it was and it got us off to a good start, especially as there were some people there having come specially to see us. 

After our usual start in Ashley the next bit we'd changed around a bit as the Railway in Hale has been getting more and more difficult to perform in as it's just too crowded at the end of the night. The plan was to try it at 8.30pm hoping it would be easier. Wrong! Just the same. So we had to perform at full volume (again) just to get ourselves heard and then it only being the front few people that actually get any impression of the Play. Another rethink required. That was reinforced by meeting up with one of the bar staff later in the evening and suggesting that Friday's and Saturdays are really too busy so suggesting that perhaps a Thursday is better.

Into Altrincham now and the Market Tavern to perform before the band do their sound check. It's a nice venue to perform in as you're very much at the centre of two large seating areas. And indeed it did go down very well with the Manager buying us a drink at the end. Once that was gone it was down the hill to the next, the Malt Shovels. A bit quieter that we'd normally expect, but still very enjoyable, even if one group of three ladies carried on talking, and who and had faces that looked like they were about to crack - regardless of everyone else around them enjoying the Play.

Two more left and the first of those on the other side of Altrincham, Costello's, is always busy, but nevertheless we made an impression. At first we thought it was really quite noisy and we hadn't succeeded in quietening them down. That was until the end of the play when everyone else started talking again and we found it difficult to even talk to each other. Perhaps it was quiet during the Play then!

The last one was the Quarry Bank in Timperley, the pub who's timing position in the tour we'd swapped with the Railway in Hale. This was a bit quieter than when we do it earlier, but this made it more manageable and enjoyable to perform in. 

So that was the fifth night out of the way just leaving our final 'day' of Souling.

The last day of souling for 2015 - Saturday 14th November 2015

This is it, the final day's Souling for 2015. And as is now the routine we met at the Saracen's Head for lunch then headed out to perform at the Autumn Fair in St Werburgh Church. It was as usual a very different performance to those done in the pubs, however, apart from the parish regulars there we did have a few new faces in the audience who'd not seen the Play before. After the raffle we headed back to the Saracen's for another drink and chat before heading off for the final evening tour.

This started when our bus arrived 6.00pm that was to take us round for the rest of the evening. First stop was on the other side of the Ship Canal at Hollins Green and the Black Swan. We had played there on the opening night, but that was to the Jazz Club in the Function Room. The Manager on that occasion had stated that we were welcome back at any time and so taking up that offer the only slot available to fit in a return visit (to perform in the pub itself this time) was to tack it onto the start of the usual evening tour.

From here it all got a bit tortuous as the next two pubs were probably in the wrong order. We're always presented with an awkward traveling route due to the Bridgewater Canal and River Bollin being in the way with limited crossing places. We're never quite sure which way round from one side to the other is the quickest, especially of the Bollin. On this occasion it was not helped by having to take a longer route anyway to avoid a narrow humped back bridge over the canal. We use that route in a car, but a 14 seater bus was probably not going to fit. Not wanting the risk of finding out, especially as the weather was appalling, we went a longer way around! 

The second pub therefore was the Axe & Cleaver. Quite a few in and well received there before heading to the Rope and Anchor. A very enthusiastic Manager here who'd in fact invited us to add the pub to our itinerary last year. Whilst it was quieter than the Axe, we were the stars of the evening for a birthday party that was taking place, with the Gang singing Happy Birthday for them. We couldn't really stop here as we were getting well behind schedule, in fact finishing the play at about the time we should have been at the next pub. This was the Swan with two Nicks in Little Bollington, but being on the other side of the Bridgewater Canal and the Bollin we were well late getting there. Again we
decided in not stopping and instead getting going to Lymm and the Spread Eagle.

Two more to go before the Saracen's Head and so the Spread Eagle was the first of those two. It was quite busy and gave a really nice feeling coming towards the climax of the evening, and season. We had caught up by this time and so after a well earned drink it was onto the penultimate performance of the year and the Green Dragon in Heatley. It's always a good place to perform, however it was much quieter than normal. This had been the theme of the evening, but more so here, and no doubt as a result of the horrible weather. It was nevertheless a good performance with the landlord, being new and not aware of what the Play was, being more than happy to invite us back for next year. Just what we like to hear.

So to the Saracen's Head and normally we'd walk the half mile to it - not tonight though - so back on the bus and we were dropped right outside all nice and dry. Once we'd had word that the folk club had finished (that had been running a singers evening before we got there) in we went. It's always a good effort here as we're on a nice enthusiastic 'high' but always singed with sadness when we realise it's all over for another year. 

The evening carried on however, with some chips and sandwiches provided by the pub, and the usual music session, even including a bit of impromptu dancing from Bollin Morris. That was until sometime after midnight and with the bar now closed it was time to go off home, the only exercise left of the proceedings being the 'damage report' from our throats and heads later than morning!

This page updated: 17th November 2015.