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The Maltings Arts Theatre

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The Maltings Arts Theatre The Maltings Arts Theatre

The Maltings Arts Theatre (MAT) is an intimate venue that hosts local theatre productions. Available for private hire.


  • Hire information: Spaces for small to medium sized events.

Address and Contact info

  • Address: Level 2, The Maltings
  • Town: St Albans
  • County: Herts
  • Postcode: AL1 3HL

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A Gig With Added Grit - review by marion hammant

On the afternoon of their July 2 date at the Maltings Arts Theatre, half of the Stan Tracey Quintet were playing at a wedding south of London, where apparently they were treated rather like rogues and vagabonds. They arrived at the Maltings ravenously hungry; the hospitality sandies, courtesy of Barrissimo, disappeared in a flash. So how did this earlier debacle affect the musicians? Was Clark Tracey on drums even more direct and forthright than usual? His solo in ‘Just Squeeze Me’ would suggest so. Was coffee-drinking Andrew Cleyndert that bit more quietly fluent and melodious?  

Stan Tracey was simply Stan Tracey. To those who know his work, from just a few notes he is instantly recognisable – the stabbing chords, the intricate syncopated runs down the keyboard, and the nail-bitingly enticing preambles, as in his rendition of ‘Bye Bye Blackbird”. But he did give that Yamaha Grand a fair old going over – to the delight of the packed audience.  

The Quintet’s front men on this occasion, Guy Barker on trumpet, and Bobby Wellins on tenor saxophone, go back a long way with Stan – hence the banter and the clear musical understanding. Guy, as ever, exploited the full range of his instrument: he was by turns edgy, explosive, lyrical. What stays in the mind with Bobby’s performance was how spare it was, and how wistful.  

With mention at the beginning of the gig that because of the change in Council leadership, the future of the Maltings Arts Theatre, previously earmarked for a mainly film venue, was now up in the air again, Stan chose to announce the Quintet’s opening number as ‘Administration Hoedown” – and a right rousing job they made of it too.. The metaphor is tempting: will the skilled operators stake out their positions, and, through weaving round each other, come to an eventual cacophonous harmony?  

Will the Maltings survive as the excellent live performance space that it is? Will fansofstan ever be able to present Stan Tracey there again (now pencilling in October 2012)? We shall see. Marion Hammant for fansofstan [Jul 11]

04 Jul 11
The Maltings Arts Theatre
Breakfast with Emma - Rosemary Branch Theatre (17 Nov) - review by herts critic

Breakfast With Emma, by Fay Weldon, is based on the novel Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert, and the play's narrative structure is centred round the breakfast table of Emma and Charles Bovary, on a single morning, presumably in the mid-19th Century.

Emma is initially clearly an unhappy woman, restless and trapped in a 'small dull dusty village in a flat landscape' and irritated by her 'old stick' of a husband whose oafish behaviour, thoughtless disregard for his wife, and lack of passion become increasingly apparent. But there is much more to her unease than that, as her infidelities (all played with oily charisma by Jason Eddy) and spendthrift nature in the grip of her passions threaten to bring her to suicide.

Helen Millar is well cast as Emma, inhabiting the role, and captures her delusion sensitively, while James Burton plays the difficult part of Charles Bovary intelligently, staying just on the pitiable side of unpleasant, a struggling doctor who understands bodies, 'but not hearts or minds.' While Helen Tennison's direction and Sally Ferguson's lighting lend the production an atmosphere that is at times haunting, and at others dreamlike, it is James Perkins' set design that is a real triumph. Emma's unravelling is told through a series of flashbacks, and characters are spirited in and out of the room from the unlikeliest of places –including a trunk, a dresser, and a fireplace. The tableaus that result – in particular a country fair, a ball and a memorable night in Paris – are evoked with humour, invention and excellent movement.  

There were some technical issues on the night, however, which included a late start and a long interval, the start of which needed to be announced from the audience by a member of the crew while the actors remained, somewhat awkwardly it seemed, on stage. Nevertheless, it was a strong production – well acted, impressively told, and at times genuinely moving.

19 Nov 10
The Maltings Arts Theatre


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