The Mayor of Casterbridge

Adapted by Philip Goulding from the novel by Thomas Hardy


(Minimum cast 3f 3m - Maximum cast 20)

Forest Forge Theatre Company/Salisbury Playhouse 1998

Wessex Actors 2005

New Hardy Players 2021

Published in Plays International, April 1998 & May 1998

Thomas Hardy's powerful tale of fate, power and the great Victorian myth of "getting on" tells the gripping story of the dynamic Michael Henchard, a journeyman hay-trusser who, through sheer force of will, works his way up, breaking free of a bad marriage and alcoholic despondency, to become a prosperous businessman and the Mayor of Casterbridge. Ultimately though, Henchard finds he is unable to escape his past, and, driven by his nature, he commits a number of impulsive deeds that must surely bring disastrous results.

Philip Goulding's script has quite extraordinary clarity, plus greater emotional depth than might reasonably be expected. (The Guardian)

A gripping saga. (The Independent)

Philip Goulding's adaptation nicely follows the curve of the fortunes of Michael Henchard. (Financial Times)

This excellent adaptation. (Bournemouth Echo)

A work of quality. (Salisbury Journal)

Excellent production...fine adaptation. (Southern Echo)

Moving and masterly. (Dorchester Guardian)




Wake Up Little Suzie!

A Jukebox Musical 

(6m 3f actor/musicians)

Wake Up Little Suzie! is an enjoyable and light-hearted romp set during the long hot summer of 1976 in an English holiday camp owned by light-entertainment dinosaur Harry Tilton. Hero Suzie transforms from downtrodden cleaner to all-singing, all-dancing Orangecoat, complete with summer romance with the boss's son. There are excellent performances from a talented and hard-working cast, funny lines and quirky characters and a great sense of fun throughout. The thing that comes across clearly is just how much fun the cast are having up on stage. This enthusiasm is infectious and makes Wake Up Little Suzie a true feelgood show and great fun for all the family. It got the audience laughing, clapping and singing in their seats and even up and dancing in the aisles. (Oldham Advertiser)

The talented cast play an assortment of larger-than-life characters. This versatility extends to the music too as they multi-task on instruments, belting out an array of popular hits. Musical director Howard Gay is hilarious as gormless singleton Kenny though it's Phil Corbitt - playing five roles, including an aggressive drag queen and a cheesy lounge singer - who steals the show. The litmus test for a production like this is the audience response, and by the end they were dancing in the aisles. Resistance is futile. (City Life magazine)

Hapless Ben Tilton, son of Tilton's Holiday Camp owner and comic Harry Tilton, is unlucky in love and just about everything else, until he meets Suzie. She soon knocks him into shape and makes a man of him. The entire Wake Up Little Suzie cast is multi-talented, with each performer singing, playing a wide variety of instruments live, fleshing out several different parts and making a fantastic job of it. There is plenty of energy and the pace never falters. With excellent characterisations and faultless musicanship, fuelled by the pounding beat of rock n roll and peppered with nostalgic glimpses of holiday camp glories, this is a show with laughter and heartache, moments of comic genius and sing-along tunes that have the audience bopping in the aisles. (theatre-reviews website)

Great fun, escapist entertainment. (BBC GMR)

Another winner. A great production that has the audience clapping, stamping their feet and rising to dance for the finale. (Clitheroe Advertiser)

Suzie is wowing them at Basingstoke's Haymarket Theatre. The first night audience got right into the madcap spirit of the show - this Glam Rock Musical sizzles. (Basingstoke Observer)

This delightful production fully deserved the prolonged ovation, with the audience on their feet for the final number. (Reading Chronicle)



Feels Like the First Time

A Jukebox Musical

(6m 3f actor/musicians)

The audience was up and dancing at the Coliseum’s new rock and roll musical “Feels Like The First Time”. The music is great - the score features more than 20 hit songs from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The show charts the adventures of two bands — The Trevors and The Launderettes. There are some flashes of genius in the script. There’s the old boy meets girl plot, as the audience is left to wonder if the spirited Julie (Amy Rhiannon Worth) will opt for Saddleworth’s answer to Bryan Ferry, the dashing Cameron (Martin Glyn Murray) or sarcastic scouser Terry (Andrew Schofield). Francis Tucker shines as dopey drummer Nobby, and his rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” really does have to be seen to be believed. Likewise, Zita Frith delights as sex-mad Sally, demonstrating breathtaking vocal and musical ability, and her observations on age are counterpoised wonderfully by the artfully-tousled adolescent Jez (Sam Bloom). You will be up with the best of them, dancing in the aisles. I certainly was. (Oldham Evening Chronicle)

Feels like the First Time is filled with energy. The action takes place in the context of a 20-year reunion between The Trevors and The Launderettes, who, at the height of their 1980 success, jumped in and out of bed with each other as frequently as they performed together. There are some sparkling dramatic moments. Jez, played by Sam Bloom, narrates the action and provides a youthful contrast to the jaded regrets of his middle-aged friends, while Terry, played by Andrew Schofield, oozes northern cynicism. His wry outlook sets him up as a father figure for the youngest character, and the chats between the two provide both with the realisation that age is merely a state of mind. The hiccups and messy decisions of adulthood do nothing to make us wise while the exuberance of youth is no substitute for experience. But all analysis and emotion is cast aside in the final reconciliation between the band members, who, spending time with each other, learn a lot about themselves. The final tune, one of only two original songs performed throughout the show, is one of the best. Only a soulless puritan would fail to be moved. (Oldham Advertiser)

A witty script and an interesting storyline. The audience were captivated by this rock n' roll story. The musical content is outstanding. This fine production was a great treat. I left the theatre with a smile on my face. A night of unremitting pleasure. Great fun. A total joy. (Manchester Confidential)

Above: The cast of Wake Up Little Suzie have a Bay City Roller moment.  Photograph by kind permission of Ian Tilton. 

Above: Andrew Schofield leads The Trevors and The Launderettes in Feels Like the First Time at Oldham Coliseum Theatre, directed by Kevin Shaw. Below:  Andrew Schofield and Amy Rhiannon Worth as Terry and Julie in Feels Like the First Time. Photographs by kind permission of Ian Tilton.

Book & Lyrics by Philip Goulding

Music by Kate Edgar


Forest Forge Theatre Company 2002

Maine Performing Arts Festival 2007


He rode into town with the Devil on his trail….


After many years travelling round the West selling his Famous Miracle Cure, Doc Faust fetches up at the out-of-the-way Arizona town of Heart's Desire, where he takes a shine to the Sheriff's daughter, Helena. She alas, seems more interested in Cornelius Valentine - a young man recently arrived from the East to edit the Heart's Desire Epitaph. Accepting the fact that his powers have waned, Doc Faust retires to the desert to lick his wounds. There he encounters a mysterious man in black who says he can help the Doc revive his fortunes. There will, however, be a price to pay… The Doc's a desperate man, and is soon persuaded to cut a deal with the stranger. When the Doc and his new found pardner head back on into Heart's Desire you can bet your bottom dollar life in that sleepy no horse town ain't ever gonna be the same again…


A witty and entertaining musical with catchy tunes and snappy dialogue, this Wild West version of Goethe's classic tale is a rip roarin' good yarn. Slick and enjoyable. A treat that will have audiences yelling 'yee ha' all the way home.

(The Stage)


A feast of colourful characters and catchy tunes.

This must surely be one of the most original adaptations of the Faustian legend so far.

(Southern Daily Echo)


I can't remember a more enjoyable night in the theatre.

The tale unfolds with Western panache. Complete with gunfights, saloon girls, and, of course, lurve. Great numbers… the fun and action never flag.

(Ringwood Magazine)


An evening of rootin' tootin' entertainment full of Western wit. A darned fine tale. A really good night out.

(Salisbury Journal)


An exuberant and witty interpretation.



A Play by Philip Goulding

Minimum Cast 3m 2f Maximimum Cast 11m 11f

Forest Forge Theatre Company / Salisbury Playhouse 2000

In the middle years of the nineteenth century more than two million men, women and children abandoned the British Isles and headed west to America. Amongst them were a number of farm labourers and their families. These men and women, fearful of the new free market in foreign corn, and seeking to avoid at best a reduction in prosperity, and at worst destitution and the workhouse, chose to uproot to a New World that - it was rumoured - could be both tamed and owned. Despite popular opinion, the voyage out would not be easy. Seasick, homesick and herded like cattle, the emigrants were swindled, robbed, insulted and terrorised at every stage. Some would not even manage to make it all the way across the Atlantic. Set in England and America, Heading West follows the journey of Lizzie Wilson, her husband Edward (a carpenter and occasional bareknuckle fighter), and her farming partner George Ash. Together they travel from rural England to the bustling port of Liverpool. Having booked their passage to America they then endure a harrowing trip across the Atlantic, until the green shores of New England are sighted at last. After a short stay in New York they head up the Hudson River to Albany and then on to the Merrimack Valley. Will they eventually have the opportunity to build the kind of life Lizzie's long been dreaming of: at home on a farm in the Land of the Free - or will fate and circumstance ultimately intervene to split the trio up, spreading them far and wide across the seemingly endless expanse of America?

Alison Ball and Tim Treslove in Heading West, directed by Kevin Shaw. Photograph by Ian Christy.

In 1852, more than 49,000 men listing their occupation as "farmer" emigrated from the UK to America. Heading West charts the lives of three of them from scratching a scant living on an English farm, through the dangerous bustle of the Liverpool docks, across 35 days of open sea to New York, and on, via the sharks feeding on the innocent and exhausted emigrants, to a farm in New England. This is powerful drama, illuminating the world of the emigrants. Heading West is a fascinating play.
(Blackmore Vale Magazine)

This is drama on a grand scale peopled with richly Dickensian characters, adventure, hardship, tragedy and a sprinkling of comedy. Theatre doesn't come any better than this. (Dorset Echo)

There are no dull moments and many comical ones. A cleverly constructed and vivid play. (The Stage)

Heading West designer David Haworth has created a box of tricks from rope and wood to transform into settings to take one poor farming family from old England to New England in the 1850s. Playwright Philip Goulding depicts the Wilsons - brawny Edward and cheerful hardworking Lizzie - letting them represent the many thousands of people who emigrated to try to escape poverty. The play is full of colour and warmth, brimming with lively characters and capturing a haunting era. (Salisbury Journal)


(2m 2f)

Forest Forge Theatre Company 2004
Theatre Newfoundland Labrador 2013

This hugely enjoyable show bridges the centuries so convincingly. Goulding cleverly combines two stories, centuries apart, and makes an appealling adventure. There are some great one-liners, great moments of intense drama, delightful comedy asides and a nice touch of romance. There is so much to enjoy. Philip Goulding is an imaginative writer and this is a gem.
(The Stage)

The Belle of Bonavista Bay weaves two intriguing stories: of a past migration from Poole to Newfoundland; and the return of Daniela, a Canadian, to England to find her roots. Not only are the two stories interwoven, but they are interspersed with folk songs and sea shanties. The central theme of the play is how history, our connections to it and our perception of it, shapes our lives. An enjoyable piece of theatre. (reviewsgate)

A warm and lively play with plenty of twists and turns in the script. A bitter-sweet comedy. This is a challenging story full of dry humour and wit and one which will delight audiences everywhere. (Salisbury Journal)

A story of love, loss and longing that will move and amuse you in equal measure. (Western Gazette)

Colin Furlong as Noel and Stephanie Payne as Daniela in The Belle of Bonavista Bay at Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, directed by Jeff Pitcher.

Mark Carlisle, Amanda Maud and Morag Brownlie in the Forest Forge production of The Belle of Bonavista Bay, directed by Sean Aita.


2m 3f minimum 7m 5f maximum cast

Royal Theatre Northampton 1993, Guildford SA 1994, Brighton Festival 1995, Courtyard Theatre/Soho Theatre Co, London 1996

Then He Kissed Me is a chillingly straightforward tale - Tina, a factory girl, discovers, a few days after her 21st birthday, that the boy she had a one-night stand with three years earlier was HIV positive. Goulding's job is to show the effect this has on the lives of those around her, and he does this movingly. Goulding has a good ear for realistic conversation and a Mike Leigh-like eye for the details of human relationships, and it is this authenticity that gives Then He Kissed Me its power: the rows and misunderstandings, the inadvertent insensitivities, the everyday ironies. By its honesty, quality of observation and lack of self-pity, Goulding's play goes further, emotionally, than many others I have seen with the same subject.

(The Stage 1996)

A provocative and appropriate love story for the 90s. (Plays International)

Goulding's ambitious exploration. (Time Out)

This powerful piece. A disturbing, contemporary love story. A thought-provoking, moving production. (Radio Nene Valley)

The superb script was subtle in its approach, and full of comic nuances along with a few surprises and plenty of punches. (Chronicle & Echo)

A sensitive examination...highly charged emotional scenes. A moving evening. (Morning Star)

Raw dramatic power...genuinely funny scenes. Riveting. (Camden New Journal)

Philip Goulding has approached this subject head-on. He does not preach or dictate but faces the turmoil with reality, fear & compassion & some wonderful humorous touches. (The Stage 1993)

David Case and Lisa Howard in Then He Kissed Me for the Royal Theatre Northampton, directed by Joe Sumsion.

Waiting for Elvis by  Philip Goulding      

2m 2f minimum cast   Maximum cast 11


“The effect of rock’n’roll on young people is to turn them into devil-worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness, impair nervous stability, and destroy the sanctity of marriage.”

( The Rev. Albert Carter of Nottingham speaking in the 1950s )

March 1960. Word gets out that Sergeant Elvis Presley is scheduled to land at Prestwick Airport in Scotland on his way back to the USA from National Service in Germany. It would be the one and only time Elvis set foot on British soil. Tony Taylor is a mechanic in Nottinghamshire. Hearing the news of Elvis’s imminent arrival he decides to skip work and set off on a quest to see his hero in the flesh. Joining him for the adventure are his sister Jean and her friend Sylvia. Jean’s feet appear to be firmly on the ground, while Sylvia is hoping to be swept off of hers. Waiting for Elvis follows the ups and downs of the gang’s journey from Nottinghamshire to Scotland and their subsequent dramatic dash from Gretna Green to Prestwick. Will time run out or will Tony achieve his ambition – to see the Memphis Flash at close range?

A livewire script and top quality acting – how much better can it get? Wonderful entertainment.

(Chronicle & Advertiser)

Above: Steven Banks as Tony, Gillian Perry as Jean (driving), and Kate Setchell as Sylvia in Waiting for Elvis, directed by Gavin Stride for New Perspectives Theatre Company. Beneath: Mick Strobel channels Las Vegas Elvis in the thrilling final moments of Waiting for Elvis, directed by Gavin Stride.


True Tales of Robin Hood

(2f 2m)

Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and Allan-a-Dale and his wife Ellen are on their way to rescue King Richard, who is in custody in Europe. To avoid capture by Cruel Prince John and his men they have disguised themselves as travelling players. To earn their bread and board they agree to tell the true stories behind some of the legends from their famous greenwood days. Four actors bring to life a host of exciting characters, including Little John, Friar Tuck, the gouty Sir Timothy of Trent and of course, the cowardly and despicable Sheriff of Nottingham.

Quite superb entertainment. (The Stage)

Original and entertaining. I didn't want the evening to end. (Ringwood Magazine)

Illustration by NC Wyeth


Based on the famous folk tale.

A gem.
(The Stage)

A delight to young and old alike. Philip Goulding's script is full of fresh ideas. (Dorset Echo)

Great family entertainment.

(East Anglian Daily Times)

Philip Goulding has made a most entertaining and amusing adaptation of the classic fairy tale, with a great script, and some very funny one-liners.

(Diss Express)

Illustration by Ana Juan -


A new adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic story.

Charming. Full of humour and with just a touch of slapstick.
(Basingstoke Gazette)

A small treasure. (Dorset Evening Echo)

Illustration by Tenniel


Inspired by Robert Browning's famous poem.

Hugely enjoyable. Philip Goulding's witty and deceptively subtle adaptation.
(Southern Daily Echo)

A robust and comical show. (Salisbury Journal)

Illustration by Man Arenas


A new version of the famous fairytale.

A sparkling new adaptation. Pure magic.
(The Stage)

Illustration by Edward Burne-Jones

PETER PAN (3f 2m)

A new version of J.M. Barrie's classic play.

Inspired. A night to remember. Quite brilliant.
(The Stage)

Illustration by Kevin Buckley -


A new version of the popular fairytale.

Quite superb. Marvellous entertainment.
(The Stage)

Illustration by Lorene Andrews


A new version of the popular fairytale.

Hilarious. Excellent script. Scintillating.
(Dorset Echo)

This excellent production. (The Stage)

Illustration by Daniel Cacouault

See also Wind in the Willows / Toad of Toad Hall


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