The Community Centre!

A new laugh out loud multi-ethnic situation comedy!


The Nubian Times

Before the big reveal of her opening comedy play, ‘The Community Centre’, TNT sat down with the playwright herself for an exclusive insight of both the play and the ideas behind it.

What were your inspirations when first writing the play?

“‘The Community Centre’ came out of an idea that we needed to promote diversity and inclusion, and what better place for a gathering of people than a community centre?

I wanted to create a multi-cultural production which allows minority actors to showcase their skills in a significant way – to take on big roles and demonstrate the melting pot of cultures that we have in Manchester”.

The play is set around a comical day in the life of a community centre in this city. Why did you choose Manchester?

“I grew up here. I know Manchester so well and it’s my hometown”.

With such an extensive background in acting/ theatre performances, what made you decide to start writing?

“I’ve had several acting roles in the past including parts in ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Emmerdale’ & ‘The Royal’. My biggest claim to fame was my featured role as Vonnie Johnson in ‘Brookside’. With two large parts within the play, the production will be a phenomenal showcase for my writing, acting and directing”.

TNT Arts & Culture Alexia Hendrickson


Opening Night Review

The Community Centre!


Written by Nicola Gardner (who also takes on two roles in this new production) Directed by John Klark and Produced by Darren Adams, The Community Centre gives us a hilarious account of a day in the life of a local Community Centre and all the madness that comes with it. With diverse characters and lots of laugh out loud moments, The Community Centre is a riot of the familiar ridiculousness of day to day life down at the local Community hub.

Receptionist and self-declared Manager Patience played by writer Nicola Gardner, rules the Centre like an old school mistress with threats to bar anyone misbehaving as she ‘Has the power, you know’ I absolutely adored Patience, such a brilliant character and so well acted by Nicola, she perfectly recreated that ‘power gone to their head’ type character, the audience lapped up her ‘service with a (sinister) smile’ such a great character I’d love to see more of. The Community Centre succeeds in demonstrating to us all that despite our differences and quirks we are basically all the same. A real fun piece of theatre, with many laugh out loud moments, the production will leave you feeling smiley and thoroughly entertained, as the late great Bob Marley would say, ‘Let’s get together and feel alright’.

Nikki Cotter Hull for Opening Night

Dave Murray, Theatre Reviewer

The Community Centre is a new play by Nicola Gardner at the Engine House Theatre (Anthony Burgess Foundation).

It’s a sitcom style script, accessible, and funny, packed full of humour and supportive relationships. At one end, four older African-Carribean members of the Centre discuss love, sex, cricket and food. At the other, two women discuss the few highs and many lows of dating after kids. The two stories are loosely interconnected by the authoritarian receptionist/manager and white-but-thinks-he’s-black caretaker Robbie.

It’s a play that shows that although we have differences (age, sex, ethnicity, background), we’re really very similar. There’s a lovely pace to the production, and the space is well used to keep it interesting; there is very little distance between the audience and the cast. Consistently well acted, and with convincing characters, it’s a piece that’s effectively put together and well directed. ‘We aim to create a play that makes theatre accessible and inviting to audiences that wouldn’t normally go to the theatre’. This is a very accessible play that gently covers some important topics for today’s multicultural Manchester. It’s a production that would do well to tour the area and to go to places where it really would attract audiences that wouldn’t normally go to the theatre.

 Review By David Murray, QuietManDave.

The Nubian Times

Following the exclusive interview with the playwright herself, TNT headed down to see the production of ‘The Community Centre’. Written by Nicola Gardner, directed by John Klark, ‘The Community Centre’ effectively achieved what it set out to do; to demonstrate the hilarity of our everyday lives and celebrate our city’s multiculturalism. Located in the Anthony Burgess Foundation Building, the space was humble and unpretentious. The audience was fully immersed within the play. With many actors speaking to audience members directly – in character of course – it only added to the sense of honest realism and warmth found in a real-life community centre. At one end of the stage sat four elderly characters, who, with their anecdotes, produced an abundance of laughs. At the other end of the stage, sat 2 community farm workers on a long tea break. The comedic aspects of the play were indeed executed well. The humour was, in parts, tongue in cheek – especially between the 2 farm workers, Anisha and Bev. Their scenes focussed on dating faux-pas, with the 2 characters often reminiscing on their terrible – yet extremely entertaining – experiences. The script was incredibly life-like and never sounded robotic or rehearsed. Conversation between characters flowed well. ‘The Community Centre’ revelled in its honesty, heart and energy. The final scene of the play was by far a favourite and tied the audience with the play’s inviting atmosphere. A group rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ even had the audience swaying and singing along in what felt like a truly inspiring moment of family, love and acceptance. TNT Arts & Culture Alexia Hendrickson 

What the audience members enjoyed

• The humour, seeing Nicola - the whole feel is real life and making the most of it. I loved it and I had a real good laugh.

• Being so close to all the action, being part! Keep it coming!

• All of it – the characters, story lines. Brilliant play – well acted – hilarious – more please.

• Each act was good, characters and story. I really liked the old people’s interactions.

• Acting / humour – all good. Great writing and performances – thanks so much.

• The script, the characters and the humour. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. Thank you. The script was very funny. Nice to see so much talent in one small space.

• Great to see diverse eccentric characters. Some proper belly laughs. I would be interested to see how the show grows.

• All of the performances, especially Patience. Amazing show / acting. Very talented!

• Everything. I enjoyed the play. Good acting. Lots of laughs. The characters, comedy, acting / storyline. Brilliant! 

Just to say how much I enjoyed the play on Saturday - it was great fun and I could see some characters developing there for a sit com.

Janet Graves- Director, Pennine Radio Productions

Dear Nicola,

VERY MANY CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you so much for a most heartwarming and entertaining evening! You are a very talented and brilliant produced a truly inspiring blend of satire and humour, beautifully articulated and so convincingly delivered. Please pass on my congratulations to the cast and everyone involved in the success of the evening.

Toi toi toi tonight and beyond,

With admiration,

Bethan Evans,

Principal Lecturer & Resident Choreographer, The Royal Northern College of Music

A breath of fresh air swept into the Engine House Theatre in Manchester's Anthony Burgess Foundation this week. Appropriately named "The Community Centre", written by Nicola Gardner and directed by John Klark, this is a laugh-a-minute play, peopled with amusing, garrulous characters of different cultures, spending their day socializing in a city community centre. The cast are uniformly excellent, each little vignette is both hilarious, yet moving. The action flows smoothly from one group to the other. The audience was entranced throughout. John Klark's direction shows an able and fluid touch and Nicola Gardner, already well established as an actress (playing two parts here), reveals another side to her talents in this sharply observed yet affectionately crafted piece. 

Ruby Gold, Dramaturg & Director, Speak Out Productions