Denise Santilli explains how The Bartholomew Players are celebrating their 40th anniverary with a Californian-style show

Ever wondered what dramas have played out in that swanky hotel suite that you just stayed in?

Hotel rooms are, in their way, a constant living theatre and California Suite, one of Neil Simon’s funniest plays, certainly proves this!

Set in suite 203/204 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California in 1975, we see the lives, loves and tribulations of five different couples as they occupy the suite at different times. The issues we see in these four short plays are as relevant now as they were 40 years ago and are dramatically brought to life by Bartholomew Players’ experienced and talented cast including one founder member.

We knew director Debi Lisburne-Diacon wanted to celebrate the Bartholomew Players’ 40 year anniversary, by finding a play by someone well known, which would therefore be popular, but also to find a play to showcase the talents within the society.

I was so pleased we settled on California Suite because not only did it achieve the above two goals, but it has also been a joy to explore the depth and variety of emotions held within the script – emotions we can all identify with – as well as bringing out Simon’s very New York sense of humour. Another happy coincidence is that this play was written in our inaugural year of 1975 and we have done our best to set it in that era.

In keeping with our tradition of partnering with local groups and sharing the profits, we are hosting the Friday night supper show with the Bartholomew School, Eynsham, where we originated in 1975, to enable them to take a group of English and Drama students to the RSC in Stratford.

The Friday night therefore has a laid-back Californian theme, including a two-course Thanksgiving Supper where members of the audience are invited to adopt a 1970s dress theme, with a prize for the best costume.

To complete the celebrations we also invite the audience to join us for a drinks reception at the opening night on Wednesday, November 25.

California Suite, Eynsham Village Hall, Wed 25-Sat 28 Nov. 07721 744 020, or