Photos Reviews

Ring Round the Moon

May 2003

by Jean Anouilh / Christopher Fry, directed by Holly Shakespeare


Joshua, a crumbling butler - Eric Hume

Hugo, a young man about town - Mike Edwards

Frederic, his twin brother in love with Diana Messerschmann - Des Widemark

Diana Messerschmann, a millionaire's daughter - Chloe Bardolf-Smith

Lady India, Messerschmann's mistress, secretly in love with Patrice Bombelles - Tini Kay

Patrice Bombelles, Messerschmann's secretive secretary - Roger Mathewson

Madame Desmortes, aunt to Hugo, Frederic and Lady India - Maggie Butt

Capulet, her faded companion - Rose Gander

Messerschmann, Diana's father a melancholy millionaire - Bob Drury

Romainville, a lepidopterist, Patron of Isabelle - Rob Hole

Isabelle, a ballet dancer - Laura Juniper

Her Mother, a teacher of pianoforte - Angela Wallwork

A General - David Batty

Footmen - Cass Thorne & Harold Revill

Production Team:

Director - Holly Shakespeare

Assistant Director - Gordon Halliday

Stage Manager - Nick Jones

Lighting - Stuart Yerrell

Set Design - Philip Keen

Set Decoration - Sylvia Brace

Wardrobe - Isla Morgan

Sound - Ron Murray

Props - Shiela Wall & Mary Collins

Prompt - Jan Caig

Publicity - Margaret Yerrell

Front Of House - Lyn Trout & Team

Poster / Programme Design - Philip Keen

Photographs - Margaret Yerrell

Production Co-ordination - Jean Halliday


From Estuary News:

...The professional looking set by Philip Keen earned a well deserved round of applause..

I recently attended the first night of Ring Round The Moon presented by the Estuary Players at the Matthews Hall, Topsham. WHAT A TREAT! I had of course heard of the play, the original by Jean Anouilh translated, or rather re-written, by Christopher Fry in 1949 and extended in 1985. It is a fairy tale set in a French chateau just before the First World War and subtitled A Charade with Music. And how important the music is - and how clever of the director, Holly Shakespeare, to find and use the original Poulenc score. Subtly controlled by Ron Murray, it was never allowed to drown the actors' voices. There are echoes of Shaw's Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.

The professional looking set by Philip Keen earned a well deserved round of applause. Brilliant in black and white, part of it was raised like a giant chess-board for the characters to dance on. The mood changed as the story unfolded, thanks to lighting by Stuart Yerrell and special effects of fairy lights and fireworks. I was slightly concerned before the curtain went up at the height of the steps but the cast managed them most elegantly. With such a set and such a script the actors were thrown a real challenge. The director had chosen her cast well and worked them hard to produce a sparkling performance (and this was the first night!).

The leading man plays twin brothers and has to switch rapidly from one character to the other, with the effective help of a double. Mike Edwards achieved this with a suave and scheming Hugo and a contrastingly timid Frederick: a difficult task which was very well done. Isabelle, the ballet dancer whom Hugo hires to manipulate, must turn all eyes at the ball and in the audience. Laura Juniper looked stunning, composed and completely natural and even managed to look both beautiful and bedraggled when rescued from the lake! She is clearly a dancer and excelled as the choreographer.

The rest of the cast were clearly experienced actors enjoying the delightful cameo roles, though 'cameo' suggests small parts, which none of them were. Maggie Butt was quietly dominant in the 'Lady Bracknell' mould as the austere chatelaine who turned out to have a twinkle in the eye, not as easy to achieve when tied to a wheelchair. I though Rose Gander as her faded companion Capulet was quite perfect, and often stole her scenes, as did Angela Wallwork as Isabelle's embarrassing mother and Capulet's long-lost friend. Chloe Bardolf-Smith as Diana and Tini Kay as Lady India both looked elegant and professional in their contrasting parts, and Chloe was nicely bitchy for Diana's battle with Isabelle; two street fighters at work! Tini Kay's tango with Roger Mathewson as her lover Patrice was very polished and suitably stilted but I wondered what hidden talents this rather effeminate secretary possessed to cause him to be adored by Lady Diana! Bob Drury was suitably melancholy as Diana's millionaire father and sounded and behaved as the Polish Jew that was his ancestry.

Rob Hole, as the lecherous lepidopterist Romainville, reminded me of Peter Ustinov, and I can't pay him a higher compliment. Eric Hume, in danger of being type-cast as the 'crumbling' butler was superb, and I really enjoyed Cass Thorne and Harold Revill as the footmen - the one tall and statuesque, the other short and scurrying. David Batty made a brief but imposing appearance as the General.

Finally I thought the dresses luxurious and the black and white costumes made by Isla Morgan augmented the set superbly, matching the Ascot scene from My Fair Lady.

Overall this was a delightful evening - an ambitious choice of play stylishly carried off by a polished and professional team. Estuary Players have distinguished themselves!

- Reviewed by: John Sharples - Exton Drama Club


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