Thursday, 23 June 2011

Berry Disappointing - Act II does not live up to the promise of Act I

Hedge End’s new theatre is still without a manager and the evidence of neglect by Eastleigh Council is literally growing.  A sign installed only weeks ago is all but invisible from the pavement in Wildern Lane as surrounding bushes are not being cut back.  I can’t help feeling that if there was an on-site manager this would have been spotted and dealt with.

The box office for The Berry is still being run out of The Point.  This is confusing, particularly when tickets for events at The Berry are sent out with instructions how to get to The Point in Eastleigh.

Hedge End Blogger recently pointed out  that there was no mention of The Berry in the June edition of “Borough News” which showcased “Summer in Eastleigh”.

It is unfair to give the impression that there is nothing going on at The Berry during the summer months.  They have arranged some interesting films and stand-up comedy, there are three community hires for local amateur groups and the scheduling for children is strong.  All this is excellent, but it wouldn’t have hurt to have mentioned it in the “Borough News” and give some publicity for the hardworking team at The Berry.

What is worrying is that after the excitement of the opening week there is not much serious theatre for grown-ups.  In fact between “Austen’s Women” on 8th April and “Oh What a Lovely War” on 30th September there is nothing in the theatre strand at all.  That’s nearly half the first year during which The Berry is not being used to its full potential.

It is supposed to be a community theatre, not a cinema or comedy club, or indeed a school theatre.

Let’s hope there is plenty to excite us again when the new season is announced soon and we can forget the disappointing Act II and look forward to Act III.


  1. How much of a loss has been incurred so far...?

  2. Jenny Schwausch24 June 2011 at 15:44

    I understand that Cllr Louise Bloom of Cummunity and Culture, is thinking of staging a 'Hedge End Festival' at The Berry. Hopefully this will programme a variety of theatre, music and dance with a wide appeal thus attracting audiences big enough to fill the 300 seats. Operational difficulties with the inefficient booking system, lack of advertising and customer unfriendly website need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. It would be good to see this expensive, state of the art facility used to its full.

  3. Notwithstanding my reservations about the location of the Berry theatre [voiced on the Black Balaclava's blog], after Jenny's comment above I now have a picture of Hedge End trying to compete with the Edinburgh Festival...!

    Maybe that's not a bad idea.

    Besides theatre, music and dance(zzzzz!), I think we'd need some decent stand-up comedians, some magicians, maybe a talent show, some variety acts i.e something a bit more entertaining than the old staple diet of theatre, music and dance(zzzzz!)

    And if the magic show includes the trick of sawing a person in half, perhaps we could volunteer the leader of Eastleigh Borough Council for the role, whoever that might be at the time...!

  4. In this day and age of cuts, particularly to the Arts, it is important that what facilities that we have are used efficientl and to their full potential. This really does not seem the case with The Berry. The whole operation seems to be being run in a very ad-hoc, amateur fashion. The Berry should be working to attract what is a shrinking audience (because of people having less disposable income)and making it easier to book tickets etc and get people to the venue. Currently it is failing to do this and is in danger of becoming a bit of a "white elephant" unless urgent action is taken. We lost money on the event that we put on there and we feel that a good proportion of the blame for that lies at the feet of The Berry/Point. Unless things change for the better, we would have to think hard before putting anything else on there, which would be a great loss for all concerned.

    John Miller