LITTLE WALTHAM DRAMA GROUP††††††††††††††† THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE

 

 

by John Dighton

 

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 8-9 April 1988 The Memorial Hall, Little Waltham.

 

In choosing a farce you chose the most difficult form of theatre. The characters have to be real, but slightly more than life size, the pace has to be fast and maintained throughout, and the frenzy which is always inherent in farce has to

 

 

increase in momentum until the final blackout. Farce is always a challenge and great fun to do.

 

 

PRESENTATION

 

Set This was good, putting all the stage and an apron to good use, with the chair and telephone table in front of the tabs. I wasn't very happy with the finish on the cupboards. The French windows were good and functional and the back cloth well painted. The fireplace was fine.

 

 

Furnishings††† Good for the men's common room and certainly feminised for the following scenes. The lamp in the ceiling was realistic.

 

 

Properties†† Some of these were excellent i.e. the letter with the blot and the scarf. The flowers on the table were too high, they blocked Miss Gossage while she was sitting there before they were removed. Luggage must have reasonably: weight and itís much easier to have things in a case to give it weight rather than mime it. I don't know of course if this is 'props' but if there is supposed to be dust blown off something i.e. the mortar board and the actor does the action there must be dust: a cloud of talc looks good (and raises a laugh).

 

 

Lovely sticky rack.†††††††† Were the flowers turquoise? if so they lost their colour in the lights.

 

 

Costumes†††††††† These were good throughout, helping the characterisation - though I was sorry there weren't gym slips i.e. navy ones.

 

 

Hair††††††††††††††††† Hair was very short in 1945 for all the men. I know its hard but it does help to date the play. Miss Gossages was fine and Barbara's bunches just right.

 

 

Make up††††††††††† This was negligible in 1945 except for an occasional very bright lipstick. Miss Whitchurch had too much eye shadow - do use some of course, and a gentle make up is essential, but I should not have been able to discern it half way down the hall.Rainbow's make up could have been subtler.

 

 

Lighting†† This was quite straightforward.

 

 

Sound effects††† Some of these were very good, but needed fading in - there were several occasions when they were too abrupt.

 

 

PRODUCTION

 

The movement on a stage as small as yours when the directions call for a table to be centre stage means it can be nothing but limited. I felt on the whole the actors managed to move round the table with Ease and a lot of good business was done down stage of it.

 

Exits and entrances.†††††††† In a farce these are of the utmost importance, here the entrances were very well done particularly those from the French windows. Unfortunately several of the entrances from the right of the s toga were badly masked by the actors standing downstage right. This is something which has to be worked out very carefully, either the entrant comes right on to the stage, i.e. so he/she is not masked or the DS actor moves away or sits down. This masking is almost bound to happen once or twice in a play with so many exits and entrances but it did happen too zany times here.

 

Teamwork†††††††† In a farce this is even more important than other forms of drama as the characters bounce off one another. Itís so often not what happens but the characters reaction to what happens and to one another- that is funny. This was extremely good.

 

Grouping†††††††††† This is really very difficult with as small stage and lots of people but on the whole this was well done particularly with the visiting parents. I felt the staffs of the 2 schools could have sided physically a bit more. But throughout the play there were a lot of very good pictures.

 

Use of the stage††††††††††† ††††††††††† This was good, every inch used, though the DR corner could have been stood in when UR entrances were made and I think the DL chair was not sat in much. The ,just wide enough passage for people to get on and off US was fine.

 

interpretation†††††††† The producer knew what he was trying to do and the actors had a very good go at it. I felt there was not much feeling of 1945; people were not quite so casual with each other as we are today, they showed more respect for authority. There should have been mere of a barrier between the 2 schools, more "reserve" ,I think is the word. Itís very difficult.

 

 

Pace†††† This is the most difficult of all in a farce and on the whole was well done particularly towards the.. end of the play.††††††††††† It does tend to begin slowly, it must, to set the scene, but could have been played more quickly. This is a question of picking up of cues, which was on the whole good, but needed to be even sharper particularly in the first act as there is not so much action.††††† In the later scenes so long a5 the exits and entrances are sharp the pace takes care of itself: The end of the acts are very important in farce - more so than any other plays, the end of the first and third were fine, but I felt the entry of the men dressed up could have gone on longer and the audience could have been allowed to enjoy the foolishness of this and the other characters reactions.

 

ACTING

The casting was good and the characters were well contrasted physically.

 

DICK TASSEELL††††† A good relaxed performance. I wasn't sure however that you had been in the RAF for 6 years. Good reaction with the other actors, especially Joyce Harper. Your scenes together were just right.

 

RAINBOW†††††††††††††††††††† Lovely lugubrious performance. Not one smile. What a misery, but your were put upon. Be careful with your make up, I should not be able to see it half way down the hall.

 

RUPERT BILLINGS ††††† a good characterisation of this cynic. Good pointing of lines and use of the audience. There were some very good laughs here.

 

GODFREY POND†††††††††††† A good performance of the much put upon HM A little shaky on lines, but you portrayed well a man really pushed beyond his capacity to cope.

 

MISS EVELYN WHITCHURCH†††††† A very good strong forthright performance. The play changed direction on your entry and went from strength to strength.

 

MISS GOSSAGE A very difficult part to play when the definitive one was Joyce

 

Grenfell, but there are other ways and you found one.†† Just enough self mockery and your stalking of Billings was very funny.

 

 

 

HOPCROFT Mii A very good performance, completely understood and very well projected

 

BARBARA CAHOUN A very good performance and here absolutely right in your worship of Joyce Harper. Well thought out and well played

 

JOYCE HARPER†††††††† A very good relaxed performance of this pleasant young woman.

 

The Rev. Edward Peck†† A good performance of this bewildered parent.

 

Mrs Peck†††††† A good performance in this shall but important part You both played as husband and wife realistically,

 

Edward Sowtar A difficult part.†††††† To make this bombastic character feasible you

 

have to be real.††† I felt you hadn't quite come to grips with the character.

 

Mrs Sowter††† A very good performance of this lady with very little to say, but always in character and very much in the play and its chaotic happenings.

 

 

When we arrived I was slightly amazed to see a fire engine outside - I know the Fire authorities have to check Halls but they don't often anticipate disaster:

 

I liked very much being met by a teacher complete with mortar board, and loved your programme sellers also in costume and sucking lollies. The programme notes are always excellent

 

The piano playing before the play and in the interval was much enjoyed particularly as it was 40's music.

 

And to be told by the Headmistress after she had blown her whistle to 'Disperse' was a good touch.

 

I was only sorry you had only 2 nights experience of putting all your hard work to an audience as it is only with an audience that farce comes alive, that you learn what makes people laugh and how to handle this. Your audience on The Friday certainly enjoyed their evening. Well done.

 

Rosanne Kirkpatrick 11th April 1988