An Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Drama Group
Director Deidre Jones, invited me some months ago to come and review your latest production at the Unicorn. It is a venue I enjoy coming to, it has so much to offer in many ways, and I'm always intrigued to discover the sets which are being designed for such a small stage area.
Bruce Scott,-- Scenic Designer. came up trumps once more, with his design at Maxim de Winter's country seat in Cornwall. I liked the use of the balcony for Mrs Danvers appearance from time to time.!
John Bradford,-- Lighting technician, -- did a first rate job, The lighting was very sympathetic to the ' moods', within the play, and the atmosphere created was just what was needed.
Peter Bradley, again came up with an imaginative sound design, and effects. We were taken back to the 40's before the show started, on the 'overhead projector', and this set the scene for the opening of the play.
The first Scene opens on the evening of May 7th 1945, at Manderley, Maxim de Winters country seat in Cornwall, --- and we meet ---
Beartice Lacey, -- Janet Rollett. (Maxims' sister) - and her husband Major Giles Lacey, --- Mike Varnom., who is introduced to us by the butler, -- Frith, played by Peter Bradley.
I enjoyed Janet's performance, looked good on stage, was very confident in her character, and delivered her lines in such a way, sometimes being cunning, at other times tactless, and certainly we knew who wore the trousers, in that household.! Well done, once more.
Frith, ---- Peter Bradley.
I'm sure he would have a butlers job at any 'stately home'. --- if it was required, I'd be willing to give him a reference.! --- unflappable, and in complete control of every situation, and was very discreet when he needed to be. Excellent presence, and diction. Congratulations.
Major Giles Lacey. --- Mike Varnom.
Came over well as possibly a ‘hen pecked’ husband. Made good use of the stage, and excellent facially expressions, especially when he was being denied a drink, and when he appeared in his 'fancy dress' costume .. He certainly gave the impression that he had enjoyed playing the character.
Frank Crawley, --- Mike Davies.
He came over as the perfect foil for Maxim. They both had a respect, and trust in each other, and Frank could see the difficulties that could possibly be encountered in the new marriage.
A sound performance.
Maxim de Winter, ---- Mark Wilkin.
Worked hard, and he had researched his role, which was after all rather complex, we could see that he was not really happy with his life, -- and this is where Frank was able from time to time help, and influence him in some decision making. You were relaxed, and showed the emotions required at different times in the play. Well done.
Mrs de Winter, ---- Deborah Williams.
Another fine performance, we had the shy young new bride, which everyone felt for, and then the contrast at the end when you were the ‘strong individual’ that gave your husband that extra support that he really needed.
Good diction, and excellent facial expressions, when required to meet certain circumstances. Well done.
Mrs Danvers, ---- Jenny Shepherd.
This was a first class performance, out of the top draw. There were many people around me who wanted to hiss, every time you appeared on stage ? --- what a contrast to Maggie in 'Outside Edge’.! From your first entrance - one could see the 'evil' in you. - your mannerisms, facial expressions, and the way you spoke, -- what a contrast to Frith. !! If Dracula required a 'maid', --- I think you ought to apply. Congratulations on a brilliant performance,--- from your hair to your boot straps.!
Robert, ---- Edward Henderson.
Did all that was asked of him, in a very pleasant manner., --- and obeyed all instructions from Frith.
Jack Flavell, ------ Richard Damerell.
Suited the character very well, --- very shifty, and came over as the 'dodgy' character. Made good use of his eyes, always looking around as if waiting for a false move by some of the other characters..
Colonel Julyan,'---- Arthur Kincaid.
Very experienced performer, and he 'set out his stall', in a very professional way, Good clear diction, and did all that was asked of him in a very dignified way.
William Tabb, ---- David Spencer.
This was a 'true " down to earth performance, by a very ordinary boatman. Any jury would take note of his evidence. --- because he spoke the truth, as he found things, from his vast experience. Good diction, and a first class performance.
There were many people who had worked very hard 'Behind the Scenes', and without their assistance, --- it would be difficult to put on a production. To them all collectively, --- MANY THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT.
My thanks again to you all for a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment, a first class performance.
You are fortunate to have sufficient people of quality, both on, and off the stage.
Gareth Jeremy National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Area