Photos Reviews

The Orchestra & Harlequinade

June 1981

A Double Bill : The Orchestra by Jean Anouilh, directed by Fenny Gill. Harlequinade by Terence Rattigan, directed by Diana Lucas.


The Orchestra -

Madame Hortense - Gill Yates

Suzanne Delicias - Lynn Trout

Monsieur Leon - Philip Jones

Patricia - Alison Lambourne

Pamela - Mary Jones

Emmeline - Joyce Evans

Leona - Carol Pettit

Monsieur Lebonze - Roy Wheeler

Waiter - Martin Lilley

Director - Fenny Gill


Harlequinade: -

Arthur Gosport - Mike Jeans

Edna Selby - Margaret Butt

Dame Maud Gosport - Marie Berry

Jack Wakefield - Dick Dann

George Chudleigh - Roy Wheeler

1st Halberdier - David Stevens

2nd Halberdier - Ben Grimsey

Johnny - Martin Lilly

Miss Fishlock - Anne Bacon

Muriel Palmer - Karen Barrett

Tom Palmer - Lee Russell

Mr Burton - Gordon Halliday

Joyce Langland - Rosie Coveney

Policeman - Richard Thorne

Fred Ingram - Richard Price

Directer - Diana Lucas

Production Team:

Stage Design - David Gill

Stage Construction - Mike Trout, Roy Wheeler, Lee Russell, David Gill & Barry Matthews

Music - played by Don Rutter, Philip Jones, Patrick Hughes, Lucy Darnley-Smith, Sue Murray and Fenny Gill, arranged by Fenny Gill and recorded by Simon Medland

Costumes - Pam Daniels

Lighting - Steve Langfield & Barry Matthews

Prompt - Ben Grimsey & Avril Mason

Props - Sybil Hopson & Pat Rutter

Publicity - John Hiley-Payne, Gillian Yates, Richard Thorne & Diana Lucas

Front of House - Anne and Stan Atkinson and team

Production Secretary - Gillian Yates

Printing - Don Badger


From Exeter Weekly News:

The bitchiness and petty envies were beautifully conveyed...

Drama behind the scenes....

Most amateur dramatics companies would be hard pushed to better the excellent show given by Topsham's Estuary Players, who put on a double bill of plays last week under the collective title of 'Performance'.

Unfortunately the first night saw a low turnout, with Topsham's Matthews Hall only half full, but the clear winners at the end of the evening were those of us who had turned up.

The first half of the bill was Jean Anouilh's amusing look behind the scenes at a group of musicians (all female bar one), inviting us to listen to what really goes on during a performance.

The bitchiness and petty envies were beautifully conveyed by the female sextet, led by Gill Yates as Madame Hortense, and aided by Philip Jones as the male piano player, who is the cause of a lot of the jealousy.

It made a refreshing change from the usual run-of-the-mill amateur company production, and full credit should go to producer Fenny Gill and all the members of the cast, who kept the production running at a brisk pace.

Following the interval, Terence Rattigan's Harlequinade was performed with confidence and vigour. Dick Dann as Jack Wakefield was the man with the challenge of rehearsing a play starring veteran Arthur Gosport (Mike Jeans) and his wife Edna (Margaret Butt).

This in itself was a daunting task with characters like Dame Maud Gosport (Marie Berry) and George Chudleigh (Roy Wheeler) also in the cast, but when Arthur's daughter by his first wife turns up, nicely portrayed by Karen Barrett, with the news that he was never properly divorced from her mother, it soon becomes clear that there is bigamy afoot and, all hell breaks loose.

A policeman is called in and Arthur and Edna are sure that he has come to take them away for their unforgiveable crime. Needless to say he is there on an entirely different matter and more confusion reigns.

All this continues until the house lights come up and those on stage realise that we in the audience are watching them!

For Harlequinade, Diana Lucas found a top class cast, and a barrel of enthusiasm.

The Estuary Players' next production will be Lark Rise to Candleford in November. I can't wait.

- Reviewed by: J.G.

From Exmouth & East Devon Journal:

...fine cameo character studies....

One Good, One Not So Good

The Estuary Players, of Topsham, seem to have a good sprinkling of members with good acting ability and theatrical know-how. Consequently they are able to attempt plays which are somewhat out of the ordinary.

Both the pieces in their double bill 'Performance' came within this category - both being a sort of plays within plays, Jean Anouilh's The Orchestra and Terence Rattigan's Harlequinade. One production proved a success, the other did not quite make it.

The Orchestra was the one that missed out. Set on a stage in a cafe of a French Spa, upon which an orchestra of six ladies and a male accompanist are playing, the dialogue consists of the conversation among the players during the intervals between their items of music. The talk is full of gossip, intrigue and cattiness as personal problems and jealousies are unfolded.

It is really an idea better suited to a sketch rather than a short play and as the Estuary Players interpreted it rather on the slow side, the whole thing seemed to drag. This fault apart, the cast all performed well and it was realistically staged, with the musicians miming to the specially pre-recorded music.

The ladies of the orchestra were Gill Yates, Lynn Trout, Alison Lambourne, Mary Jones, Joyce Evans and Carol Pettit. Philip Jones was the male musician, while Roy Wheeler and Martin Lilley appeared as hotel staff. The production was by Penny Gill.


By contrast, Harlequinade, with its action set on a provincial theatre stage where a prominent but fading couple are starring in Romeo and Juliet, fairly romped along. Producer Diana Lucas brought out the best in all 13 members of her cast and the result was first class entertainment. Mike Jeans, Margaret Butt and Marie Berry acted the parts of over-the-top Thespians very well, and Dick Dann was a good harrassed stage manager. Also competently portraying actors were David Stevens, Ben Grimsey, and Roy Wheeler.

The rest of the cast all provided fine cameo character studies. They were Martin Lilly, Anne Bacon, Karen Barrett, Lee Russell, Gordon Halliday, Rosie Coveney, Richard Thorne and Richard Price.

The stage design for the two productions was by David Gill, with Mike Trout responsible for stage construction, assisted by Roy Wheeler, Lee Russell, David Gill and Barry Matthews looked after lighting. The music for The Orchestra was played by Don Rutter, Philip Jones, Patrick Hughes, Lucy Darnley-Smith, Sue Murray and Fenny Gill (arranger).

- Reviewed by: George Pridmore


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