Author Archives: Kit

A Valentine’s Day Murder


What a night! We partied like it was 1926 and a swell time was had by all!

We revisited this popular murder mystery with an all new cast and a brand new venue. Garage Coffee @ Fruitworks Canterbury (at the end of White Horse Lane near the Foundry), made a splendid “Jacky D’s” speakeasy in prohibition Chicago times. A ‘secret cellar’ ambience and a great bar providing our audience with a topical array of soft drinks and, rumour has it, some rather tasty not-so-soft ones too set the evening off nicely! Our audience were warned that if we were raided by the ‘cops’ to ‘hide the giggle juice’!

Our story told the cautionary tale of competitive life in 1926 gangland Chicago with gang leader and businessman Abe Bernstein, played by John Blatchford, trying to keep a grip on his fated Purple Gang at the time of a potential take-over.


The gang’s clueless errand boy, Eddie the Gophor, played by Jonny Brace, got loads of laughs in his bumbling efforts to be taken seriously by the gang and by the girl of his dreams, Gilda the barmaid, played by Maria Krupa.

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A number of teams didn’t think Gilda was as innocent as she appeared, and others thought the blues singer, feisty Betsy Milberg, played by Hannah Farley Hills, was the woman behind the mystery.

28516519_10209110049582967_3646833486983196274_oHannah gave the evening that authentic feel with her sensuous renditions of the two Blues classics, “A good man is hard to find”, and “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out”.


And last but not least, always on the edge of the gang was the suspicious character of James, the city town planner, played by Ryan Brown. Always with the wise-cracks, but did he know more than he was letting on about the potential take over bid? At least one team thought so!

Our talented cast played and sung to an absolutely packed out and enthusiastic audience. It was so lovely to see many of our loyal regulars again as well as lots of new faces. Welcome to the Phoebus Fire fanbase! Sadly we were actually turning people away in the end, but those who bought their tickets early enough had a rip-roaring time and were a treat of an audience to perform to. Thanks to everyone who dressed up for the occasion. We particularly liked some of the gangster mustaches and the great Chicago accents- well done for getting into the spirit of the evening! We had three teams who guessed that it was, (on this occasion), Eddie the Gophor who committed the murder but only one team who got the motive correct, so well done!


We always try to give you a game to play during the evening and most of you had at least one go at guessing in which confiscated object the cops found the secret key to the secret tunnel on their last raid of the premises. Popular guesses were “inside Izzi Bernstein’s teddy bear”, “stuffed in the toe of Harry’s old boot” or even “in the plant pot of Eddie’s venus flytrap: ‘Bernard'”, but the prize went to Janet who guessed it was in the rather tasteful bright yellow tea pot!  You’ll be relieved to know that the key was a red herring and the secret tunnel only went to a disused and waterlogged cellar! Abe just loves getting the better of the Chicago cops!

Thank you to Garage Coffee for their successful efforts at fitting us all in and for the great bar, to Karen Ince, our Phoebus Fire host, to my magnificent cast and unrelentingly cheerful Assistant Director, Laura. Another great night out with Phoebus Fire! Watch this space for events later in the year.

Kit (Director)

Abe Bernstein and our characters from the Purple Gang.

A Valentine’s Day Murder – the cast

(Photography by Laura Johnson)



Good and no so good news

Hello everyone,

the sad news is that Westgate and Birchington Rotary Club had to cancel their event at the luxurious St Augustine’s due to a shortfall in numbers. 60 just wasn’t enough to raise any additional funds for their chosen charity of the evening so they made the reasonable decision to pull out. Very sad that they weren’t fully supported but well done them for trying to splash out and do something new and fabulous – because it would have been AMAZING in that beautiful setting and with a splendid meal too. Never mind, thank you for trying.

Betsy Milberg sings the blues

Betsy Milberg sings the blues

The great news is that Phoebus Fire are hosting their own show at Garage Coffee @ Fruitworks in Canterbury on Friday 9th March and all tickets are sold! We will be bursting at the seams and it is going to be one hell of a good night’s entertainment!

James the City Hall official

James the City Hall official

Eddie the gofor.

Eddie the gofor.

The Tempest on Tour in aid of Catching Lives

The TempestTour Dates:

15 September – St Mary’s Art Centre, Sandwich Buy tickets here

16 September – St Mary of Charity, Faversham Buy tickets here

19 September – The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury Buy tickets here

22 September – The Old Kent Market, Margate Buy tickets here

24 September – Central Bandstand, Herne Bay Find out more

30 September – St Mary Bredin, Canterbury Buy tickets here

This September Phoebus Fire are going on tour around the coastal towns of Kent and the great city of Canterbury raising money for the homeless through Catching Lives.

In this modern re-staging of the much-loved ‘The Tempest’, Naples and Milan become corporations rather than kingdoms, and Prospera is banished to the streets rather than a magical isle. She survives as an opportune herbalist and healer, using the feral Caliban and ex-junkie Ariel to help her bring up her daughter Miranda unscathed, in a secret corner of this desperate existence. Her business rival, Alonzo, is sailing with family and friends, including Prospera’s usurping sister Antonia. A terrible storm wrecks the yacht, depositing everyone, including the galley crew (Stephana the drunken sous-chef and Trinculo the pot-washer) onto Prospera’s streets. We see how Prospera takes advantage of an opportunity for Miranda and the chance of revenge on her enemies. The production retains the original Shakespearian language, in a reduced version that runs for approximately ninety minutes (plus interval). All profits will be donated to the ‘Catching Lives’ homelessness charity.

Catching Lives  runs an open centre in Canterbury to cater for the homeless people of Kent’s day time needs of food, clothing, shelter, washing and laundry facilities, counseling, internet access and company. During the three coldest months of the year they also provide somewhere to sleep over night, using a series of seven churches. This Winter Night Project costs upwards of £50 000 a year and we are donating all of the profits from our tour to help with this project and the daily running of the day centre. Catching Lives staff will be accompanying us on tour and you’ll see their information stall where you can find out more about their work and how you can help. At all venues (apart from the Marlowe Studio) you will also be able to bring and donate essential supplies of dried and tinned food stuffs and toiletries if you wish.

Please help us make life a little kinder to those on our streets this coming winter. Pass the word around, share and “like” our Facebook events pages.

Thank you

Last chance to see Killin’ in Cactus County


“Killin’ in Cactus County” has been huge fun for the audiences and for us! We’ve had so many laughs with our fantastic cast and the audiences have loved every minute of this Wild West adventure. You can see some of their feedback in the little video we made, which is on our facebook page, or here. We’re excited to say we have one more show to offer you at St Peter’s Hall, Greenhill on 22 April in aid of the Little Acorns Pre-school. You can book tickets with Lisa, our host, by ringing 07482 599953 to book a place, a place for you and your friends or a whole table! She’ll be delighted to hear from you and Mrs Belle Morris would be right pleased to offer ya a mighty fine and heart warmin’ welcome to her saloon: the Drift Inn of Deadbeat. Belle would also like to draw ya attention to the rules of the Saloon so’s ya’ all can digest ’em proper-like before attendin’. She thanks ‘ee kindly and wishes ya’ all a good day now.



Killin’ in Cactus County – a murder mystery

On the edge of the Sonora Desert, in the little-known town of Deadbeat, the sheriff can usually be found propping up the bar in the Drift Inn.  But when two strangers come to town looking for him, he’s nowhere to be found!

Come along as a lonesome cowboy/girl or a popular posse, everyone is welcome in Cactus County. Rehearsals are well under way for the first of this year’s murder mysteries and we’re all having huge fun with Karen’s new set of characters and dastardly plot.  As audience members you are the detectives and it’s up to you to find out whodunnit and why.  Contact the individual hosts for tickets at a venue near you.


Two Tudor Gossips

Kit and Karen were guests of the Shepherdswell Wednesday Club this afternoon for an hour of what they love best: a good ole natter! This was a natter with a difference however, because they were taking the first of Phoebus Fire’s new series of history presentations out for a spin and came in the guise of two 16th Century gossips.

Two Tudor gossips

Two Tudor gossips

The two goodwives, Agnes Marten,  and her aunt  Kate Meadowes  discussed everything from the state of the roads and traffic jams on the way to the market, their dread of a summer of eating peas bread after yet another bad rye harvest, their pride and concerns over the differing fortunes of Agnes’ sons in their first year of apprenticeship, and the growing tensions in the bake house between Kate’s husband and son as the elder man’s sight and strength failed him faster than his pride. What was the best pregnancy test and why on earth did their men decide they needed to go all the way to the Newfoundland banks to fish for cod? The light-hearted presentation saw the 16th century world explained through the eyes of two ordinary women.

Putting the 16th century world to rights

Oooh I never knew that!

After the performance Kit opened the session up to questions from the floor to either their historic characters or their modern selves and a good many people came up wanting to know more.  The appreciative audience said it was a wonderful way to learn about history and how things, in everyday life, had really not changed that much. One lady caught the performers in the car park as they were leaving and thanked them, saying that she had expected to go to sleep as she’d already been to one meeting that day but they had  kept her wide awake throughout the whole performance. You can’t get a better recommendation than that!

Thank you Shepherdswell Wednesday Club for inviting us, it was a pleasure gossiping in your good company.

For those interested in hiring the Two Tudor Gossips they are at home in both town and country settings, whichever is best suited to your venue. Please get in touch here or via our Facebook page. Watch this space for news of gossiping through the ages.

Kit – Director

An introduction to the Meisner technique.


Thanks to practitioner Reuben Williams last Saturday for his encouraging introduction to the techniques of Sanford Meisner. He helped us take our first tentative steps into the world of connecting with emotional truths within our fellow actors and ourselves in order to bring authenticity of feeling to our characters and their situations.

In pairs we explored the “Repetition” exercise, learning to really listen and observe our partner and respond authentically to how we perceived they felt. In turn they did likewise and for those that acknowledged those feelings and went with them, the results were amazing.  In my turn as an audience member I became very aware of my emotional responses to the action “on stage” and when the actors’ emotions were authentic that’s when I became most engaged.  It really works!

Meisner, Reuben told us, advocated that we have an emotional primary palette of “mad, sad and glad” and all other emotions are mixes of the core three. I think we all felt the challenge of being confronted with an uncomfortable emotion, especially “sad” and by the end of the session we were recognising our own avoidance tactics as we tried to escape facing and owning that emotion in particular. At this end of the process, at the very introductory stages it was obvious how emotionally blocked most us are, a state encouraged by social conformities  but a real barrier for the actor between them and convincing their audience. I came away from the day wanting to do more and with the sure knowledge that here was a very powerful technique that, although hard won, would reap very real rewards.

We also had a brief look at Meisner’s textual analysis technique and the value of engaging the audience during a monologue rather than acting into a void.

It was an exhausting, and highly stimulating day. Another Phoebus Fire winner, thanks to Karen for organising, to Reuben for his encouragement and tuition and for everyone that took part who helped to provide a safe space to experiment and play.

Watch this space for the next workshop!

Meisner workshop

Reuben Williams is currently known for his fabulously fictional Bullshit Tours of London!


A big Phoebus Fire welcome to Jazz

Phoebus Fire is delighted to welcome Jasmine Briscoe to the team.

With so much planned for the company in the next twelve months we realised an additional creative director would be really useful. With Jazz’s background in project management and experience in training, along with the acting talent and enthusiasm she has brought to the company this year, she was our ideal choice.

And the crazy woman said ‘Yes!,

Welcome aboard Jazz!

Phoebus Fire’s First Season of Murder

Our first season has been a real success during which we helped to raise funds / awareness for the Canterbury Christchurch College Christian Union, the Worthgate Scouts, the 2nd Reculver Brownies, the MS Therapy Centre Canterbury, the Hoath & District W.I.  and the MS Society Medway.   We performed three murder mysteries – A Valentine’s Murder; Cirque de la Mort; and Sea, Salt & Slaughter.

Many thanks to all our host organisations – we look forward to working with you again in 2017.

A Valentine’s Murder


Set in 1926 in a Chicago  speakeasy run by gangster Abe Bernstein and his Purple Gang, this was a night of mob warfare, dodgy dealings and affaires of the heart that ended in tears and  – not too surprisingly –  murder! The audience, as the patrons of the speakeasy, enjoyed extra entertainment in the form of two period blues numbers sung by Kit Stevens as the character Betsie Milberg.


Cirque de la Mort

Bow question-time

Our summer production was an up-to-date story of familial rivalry and workplace jealousy beneath the Big Top as we scratched the mysterious surface of circus life in Cirque de la Mort. The audience, seated around the circus ring, were entertained by an acrobatic floor show from the Bellini Bros, clowning antics from Hobo & Bozo, and the questionable palm-reading talents of the Great Fortuna. Led by the inept ringmaster FlimFlam, newbie Sam found he’d taken on more than he’d bargained for when he’d run away and joined possibly the worst circus on the circuit this summer. Rinky Dink Brothers wowed the crowds for us during June.

clownspose  Fortuna WSH

Sea Salt and Slaughter

mogs-tale Trio of trouble

With 18 September being International Speak like a Pirate Day we could not resist visiting Capt. Salt’s swashbucklin’, rum-swiggin’, tax-evadin’ pirate crew of the Plymouth Glory in the early autumn. Sea Salt and Slaughter was a rip-roaring and mind-teasing yarn spun in the Drunken Mermaid Tavern in 1720. It was enormous fun to put on and a sure-fire winner with the audiences who joined in on the sea shanty singing with gusto and came up with some intriguing alliances among the suspects. In addition to the raffle, the audience pored over the treasure map we’d drawn up and laid down their gold to have a stake in where they thought the treasure had been hidden. Arrrrggh, it were a fine show!

Avast!  crimson-questions


The Future


Our audiences absolutely loved their time with us, and we have been delighted with the enthusiastic feedback.   Audience members asking eagerly for details of the next show,  and those who enquire whether we can do the same for their community group or charity, have been a great source of encouragement and inspiration.  Thank you.



Barnacle-bustin’ night at Beltinge!

Our last performance of Sea Salt & Slaughter was hosted by 2nd Reculver Brownies to a small but almost perfectly  (in)formed audience!  I say this as 4/5 tables got the answer right!  LOL.

Trio of trouble

Which one of these has a guilty conscience?

Old Mog's tale

Old Mog’s tale

Thanks to Brown Owl, Katie Waters, for all her hard work and for making us feel so welcome. The audience was great fun to play off, lots of jokes and a really warm and friendly bunch of people. Many of them were joining in on the sea shanties which was encouraging and made us sing all the louder!



Now the run is over I can show you pictures of Karen dressed as the ghost of Old Mog who comes back to haunt the guilty suspect. Karen’s idea of no one but the murderer and herself knowing whodunnit until the end of the play each night was a great idea and kept the cast’s reactions to their fellow characters pure throughout. Not even I knew who had been given the piece of parchment with the much sort after “black mark” at the beginning of each performance, denoting the one who’d dunnit. Ingenious! This time it was the lovely Sally who was the guilty party.

Crimson gets a grilling

Crimson gets a grilling

A great performance by all the cast and I know everyone is sorry to see their characters sail off into the sunset… until next time. It’s been huge fun to direct this fabulous motley crew who have embraced their characters and really worked hard to get the most out of them in the time available. Well done me hearties, I’m proud of you all. Arrrggghhh!

The Treasure Map

At the end, after the reveal, prize giving and raffle, my wonderful cast presented me with the most beautiful bunch of flowers and a priceless handcrafted card from “Old Mog’s Card Shoppe”! LOL.

A great evening’s entertainment! Loved every minute.

Thanks to Katie Waters and Sarah McMullen for the photos.

Kit-  Director of Sea Salt & Slaughter.