1995

Little 'Waltham Drama Club                                     The Unvarnished Truth

                                                                                     by Royce Ryton

A very good choice of play for your company with --good acting opportunities for light comedy. But oh how difficult: You have only to look at the cast list of the original production to see who it was who played in it and to visualise

their skill at this sort of material. I feel sure you must have found it enormously hard work (when professionals make it look so easy) particularly the fundamental task of learning lines, but your audience did appreciate it and it was all worth while.

PRESENTATION

The set was good, there were several very important exits and entrances so you had to have something solid.                I could not see if you had any backing inside the loo, but that outside the front door was effective.

Furniture This was quite all right, though I was bothered a bit by the very low seat of the settee, because of people being seen when sitting, but no one was there for long, and it was an ideal piece of furniture for Annabel to collapse on and roll off the back. I did not like the desk chair much, it might have been better to have had something not quite so utilitarian, though the house and furniture were described in unflattering terms.

Properties were fine, though it is a pity the standard lampshade came apart the night I was there, but it was mended in the interval. (Do be careful, backstage people not to rejoin the audience in the interval off the front of the stage, you must go round the back and in the door, its rather like coming into the audience m with make up and costume on.        The audience does like to keep up the illusion that the stage is somewhere else - I hope you know what I mean) I would have liked a more up to date phone, but I suppose Mrs S D would not have supplied it?

 

Costumes These were quite all right

Make up That of Mrs Cartwright was rather too stagy, and I was sitting behind the gangway.

Lighting       This was simple, a gentle fade of the houselights absolutely on the dot of 7.45.

Sound effects These were not very life like, there could have been more crashing noises when this was going on outside.                It makes it so much more difficult for the actors to react and us to believe if they are not right.

PRODUCTION

Use of stage Every inch was used, most effectively.           The settee in the centre

always takes up the best acting area, but I' don't know what else you can do.

Movement      Lots of it and to great purpose. From the start there was energy, and the first ?fight' with Annabel and Tom was very physical and got several 'OOh's' from the audience. He did-not actually shake her, which he says several times he did, and though most of the time Tom is fabricating what happened he did keep on about this, The collapsing of the other three women worked well, and the carrying in and out of the bodies was well done. Also the falling out of the door was a super moment and one of the great laughs of the evening;    The run round in the last act was spectacularly good,- how much ad Jibbing went on I don't know: But the tying up was not realistic, to make us believe he can't get away you must immobilise his downstage arm, Tom could have released himself easily and removed the gag the night I was there. I know you did it very fast and Tom was struggling, but it did need

more rehearsal. Lovely casual throwing of water about in the last scene.

Grouping      This does include any masking, there were some moments, but. these were got over very quickly. There were some lovely moments when yet another body was. unmasked by a new arrival. The last scene and what the men were doing by way of resuscitating the women was lost to the greater' part of the audience, because it was on the floor. There is not however much you could have done about it.

Pace. This was very good, though it was interrupted by the necessity for prompts which was a shame. The whole went very fast with lots of topping of cues, but do remember a few built in slower bits with a dramatic pause or two can be so effective in a piece of this nature.

Entrances and exits     Entrances through the front door were all good, and many of the exits also, bodies carried to the loo in particular.

Teamwork This was very good indeed with lots of backing up by one with another.

Interpretation  I was not sure whether I believed Tom was a playwright but I am not sure why. Otherwise I believed the characters and the situation.

 

Acting

Tom Bryce     A very good interpretation of this enormously irritating smug husband, no wonder Annabel lashed out: This early scene went very well, hit there were times that it was so fast that the sense had gone out of the words, it really needed going back to. You have to take your tone of voice from what the other person says, for instance Annabel says 'If you cant get your own way you fly at me ' You had not. Your part was enormous and reaction with the other people who came in was good, and your endless variations in your descriptions of what had happened were excellent. You have a very good sense of the ridiculous, such as 'The phone is dead now' Your phone calls had been good, we could imagine the person on the other end.                You are very natural on stage and have a certain authority as well as a light touch, which is an unusual combination. Little Waltham are lucky to have you.

Annabel Bryce      I felt you were a bit under rehearsed and did not really characterise enough, for instance I did not believe you were getting on with the dinner, and your line of 'I was trying to make it up' Went for nothing in the context of the scene. Some of this scene seemed back to front. But you certainly beat him up, there was enormous realism here. Your collapse on the sofa was good, and your very casual throwing of buckets of water at various of the cast in the final scene was wry funny indeed. But I do think both of you should look at that first scene again.

Bert Hopkins        A very good understanding of this old mate of Tom's. A very long part which you maintained throughout, though there were several prompts they did not throw you. Your relationship with Tom was very believable, and the horror with which you told of his escapades in Cyprus was real. Your reaction to the collapses of the women was good, and how your reputation would be in danger etc was heart felt. Your line 'I can tell at a glance' got a laugh. Well done.

Mrs. Cartwright A tiny part, with not much time to establish a character. I "u, as worried about your make up, but your collapse was real, and your limpness at being carried about was most realistic.

 

Bill Carlisle         What a client to be involved with - poor you.: A very well sustained

characterisation.         Quick on cue and always ready with a suggestion as to what should be done, so willing to help with the disposal of the bodies, much relieved when Annabel recovers and you worked hard on the resuscitation with water being flung at you in the final scene.

Mrs. Stewart Dubonnet A difficult part really, .you had to be rather unpleasant and withstand a lot of verbal abuse, with threatening behaviour. You used your stick well and collapsed poi _+h conviction I think you had a line -'Dont shout. at me' and he was not--(this was another clue as to what the other-character says as to how a line should be said)

Inspector It is always difficult to come to a play at such a late stage, and still make an impact. But you were caught up in such bizarre goings on and your worry that you were only a few years off retirement and what would become of you was heartfelt.  Your lines were a bit shaky, but the scene was played at such a great speed it must have been difficult to come in so late on and pick up the pace A well thought out characterisation.

Isobel A very good first entry as a slightly batty companion, twiddling your show 1 and being pathetic. Your second entrance was swift and your reaction to what you saw was splendid, ending with being knocked out by the Inspector. A very well sustained farcical characterisation.

 

We did enjoy our evening with you, and congratulate you for undertaking such a difficult play, the sort your audience enjoy

 

 

 

 

Rosanne Kirkpatrick April 1995