Behind the scenes of rehearsals for Before the Party

On Monday 3 April rehearsals started for Before the Party, a sizzling portrayal of the upper middle classes adjusting to post-war life, based on the short story by W Somserset Maugham. JMK Assistant Director Flora Longley-Cook takes us behind the scenes in week one.

A sunny Monday morning welcomes us to rehearsals of Before the Party – our funny and slightly mad play that we’ll be rehearsing for the next month. Let’s hope the happy weather doesn’t deceive us the same way it deceives the wacky Skinner family whose antics we follow.

Before The Party MASTER FINAL copy

It’s an exciting first role here for me at Salisbury Playhouse – I’m assistant director in conjunction with the JMK Trust, which supports young directors at the beginning of their career – as everyone is buzzing to get working on this play!

A meet and greet and a tour around the theatre welcome the new cast to Salisbury and the Playhouse, our new home for the next few months. Then we settle down for table work.

A first reading full of stifled laughs from listeners, cast and myself (I’m reading stage directions) tells us we’re onto something good. Our director, Ryan, aptly described it as a mix between ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ and Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’. It’s comic and mysterious in equal measure with plenty of physical humour involving a door-knob.

In our first week, set starts to filter in, the actors start to get on their feet and we start to see the play come to life. Playing around with these mad characters is great fun and they should be great to watch on stage!

Before the Party runs in the Main House from Thursday 4 May to Saturday 27 May. For tickets or more information please contact the Ticket Office on 01722 320333 or visit


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