Photos Reviews

Hard Times

November 1984

by Charles Dickens / Estuary Players, directed by Martin Bloomer


Gradgrind - Gordon Halliday

Louisa - Diana Lucas

Tom - Andrew Day

Mrs. Gradgrind - Mary Jones

Bounderby - Philip Jones

Mrs. Sparsit - Margaret Butt

Sissy - Mandy Lugg

Bitter - Nick Roll

Stephen - Mike Jeans

Rachael - Alison Lambourne

Stephen's Wife - Lynn Trout

Mrs. Pegler - Joyce Evans

Harthouse - Jim Orford

Crabtree - Fred Lewes

M'choakumchild - Richard Price

Mrs. M'choakumchild - Sybil Hopson

School Inspector - Jeff Harreld

Inspector's Wife - Carol Pettit

The Circus Folk

Sleary - Ben Grimsey

Josephine - Rosie Coveney

Childers - Richard Thorne

Kidderminster - Anthony Morris

Emma Gordon - Joan Bowditch

Circus Performers
- Mike Boston, Brian Bowker, Richard Chappell, Anthony Morris, Alison Palmer, Sue Palmer, Jason Petelin, Jessica Petelin, James Pettit, Clare Rowe, Kate Trout & Lynn Trout

The Townspeople
Brian Bowker, Joan Bowditch, Trevor Collins, Jeff Harreld, Sybil Hopson, Eileen Melville & Sue Palmer

The Children
Tessa Ash, Ben Borley, Ian Bowden, Amanda Coles, Stephanie Craggs, Stewart Edwards, Stuart Eveleigh, Martyn Flatt, Timothy Gallagher, Becky Hanna, Jonathan Hoare, Nicola Hulin, Tracey Jane, Carol Pettit, James Pettit, Gill Phillips, Richard Price, Sara Vernon, Louise Wigfield, Sally Ogle, Jeremy Orr, Jamie Paddock, Alison Palmer, Jessica Petelin, Amy Pettit, David Price, Rachel Price, Matthew Raddon, Clare Rowe, Daniel Speirs, Lisa Thorne & Georgina Wigfield

Production Team:

The Rank And File Band -

- Alison Bloomer

Electric Bass - Martin Bloomer

English Concertina - Quinton Cumbes

Cornet - Wilson Forster

Percussion - Peter Hamilton

Vocals - Gill Unstead

Harmonium, Synthesiser - Patrick Taylor

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Mandolin - Stuart Toms

Hammered Dulcimer, Acoustic 12-String Guitar, Mandolin - Julian Wild

Flute, Clarinet - Minny Wild

Sound Desk - Lindy Yellowlees


Director - Martin Bloomer

Assistant Director - Miranda Leger

Circus Skills Teachers - Dick Gerrish, Tim Laycock & Mike Boston

Production - John Tams

Production Secretary - Alison Lambourne

Lighting - Keith Palmer

Set Design - Mike Trout & Kath Sidgwick

Set Construction - Mike Trout, Barry Matthews, Norman Wren, Roy Wheeler & Kath Sidgwick

Props - Sybil Hopson & Gill Thorne

Costumes - Olive Rumford, Miranda Leger, Elspeth Ogle & Carol Pettit

Make-Up - Rosie Coveney

Front of House - Jean Halliday

Publicity Officer - Lynn Trout

Art Work - Kath Sidgwick

Photography - John Bickford

Printing - Prontaprint


From Exmouth & East Devon Journal:

The acting of the large cast was first class...

Triple-feature show success

Originality, imaginativeness and good acting are invariably features of productions by the Topsham-based Estuary Players, and last week's presentation of Hard Times was no exception.

It was very much a community effort, involving the Rank and File Band as well as the Players, and performed 'in the round' giving members of the audience the chance to promenade if they so wished.

The originality came with the actual choice of play. Although based on Charles Dickens' novel and using mostly his dialogue, it was written by six local people - Alan Lambourne, Sara Vernon, Mary Jones, Philip Jones, Martin Bloomer and Miranda Leger, with the last two as director and assistant director respectively.

The whole of the Mathews Hall at Topsham was used for the play, with the audience seated in grandstand style down one side or on the stage. The action was centred, with well-planned lighting, on three or four sites in the hall.

But the whole area was used most effectively, especially when the Circus folk were involved. Members of the cast had learned circus skills such as juggling, acrobatics, stilt walking and clowning especially for the play and provided much enjoyment.

There was even a dancing bear!

The acting of the large cast was first class, from those in major roles right down to the lesser nonspeaking parts.

Margaret Butt gave a particularly convincing characterisation of the acid Mrs Sparsit, while a youngster to catch the eye was Nick Roll as the equally nasty Bitzer. One scene between these two was especially good.

Gordon Halliday, Diana Lucas, Mary Jones and Philip Jones gave true feeling to the Victorian roles which they were playing and were all extremely convincing.

Other characters were well portrayed by Andrew Day, Mandy Lugg, Mike Jeans, Alison Lambourne, Joyce Evans, Lynn Trout, Jim Orford, Fred Lewes, Richard Price, Sybil Hopson, Jeff Harreld, Carol Pettit, Ben Grimsey, Rosie Coveney, Richard Thorne, Anthony Morris and Joan Bowditch.

The singing and playing of the Rank and File Band - ten instruments and two vocalists - was much appreciated and complemented the story well. Their music was drawn from a variety of sources, from the music hall to hymns ancient and modern.

The only 'niggle', of the evening seemed to be the seating of the audience. I tried both alternatives - one in each half - and it appeared to be a choice between the more conventional seats on a rather draughty stage from which the action was less remote, or the wooden grandstand seating from which one could appreciate the action better but was less comfortable.

Fortunately, the high quality of the play and the performers largely overcame the discomforts.

- Reviewed by: George Pridmore


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