Photos Reviews

The Roses of Eyam

March 1980

by Don Taylor, directed by Mary Jones


William Mompessan, Rector of Eyam - Anthony Morris

Sir George Seville, his patron - Gordon Halliday

Catherine Mompesson, his wife - Diana Lucas

The Bedlam - David Stephens

Old Unwin - Roy Wheeler

Andrew Merrill - Dick Dann

Marshall Howe - Robert Fynn

Thomas Stanley, former Rector of Eyam during the Commonwealth - Philip Jones

Rowland Torre, from the next village - Alan Lambourne

George Vicars, the village tailor - David Gill

Colonel Bradshaw, the local squire - John Stuart

Mrs Bradshaw - Rosemary Stephenson

A Carter, from London - Philip Jones

Elizabeth Swanne - Claire Russell

Lydia Chapman - Karen Barrett

Mrs Cooper - Margaret Butt

Edward Cooper - Richard Price

Jonathan Cooper - Hugh Darnley-Smith

Mrs Sydall - Marie Berry

Richard Sydall - John Stuart

Emmot Sydall - Fenella Gill

Ellen Sydall - Susannah Butt

Sarah Sydall - Nicola Jones

John Sydall - Gareth Butt

Isaac Thornley - Fred Lewes

Edward Thornley - Mike Jeans

Elizabeth Thornley - Miranda Leger

Francis Thornley - Graham Ward

Mary Thornley - Joan Ward

George Frith - Trevor Rogers

Frances Frith - Lynn Trout

Mary Frith - Gillian Yates

Thomas Frith - Jonathan Beney

Mrs Hancock - Pat Rutter

William Hancock - Don Rutter

John Hancock - Francis Luscombe

Thomas Hancock - Adam Gill

Elizabeth Hancock - Carol Pettit

Edytha Torre - Joyce Evans

William Torre - Gordon Halliday

Frances Torre - Alison Lambourne

John Torre - Clavel Tripp

Alice Torre - Jill Green

Scythe Torre - Mark Waddicor

Thomas Torre - Nigel Browne

Production Team:

Producer - Mary Jones

Assistant Producer - Angela Beney

Production Assistant - Rachel Jones

Stage Manager - Mike Trout

Stage Construction - Mike Trout & Barry Matthews

Lighting - Tony Blake & Kevin Gardner

Sound - Barry Matthews

Prompt - Sybil Hopson

Props - Anne Atkinson, Angela Day & Janet Matthews

Costumes - Anne Bacon, Alison Ley & Alison Lambourne

Make-up - Ian Bond, Diana Lucas, Angela Beney & Brenda Russell

Front of House Manager - Bryan Stephenson

Publicity - Gordon Halliday

Box Office - Margaret Butt

Printing - Don Badger

Recorders - played by Clavel Tripp, Jill Green, Mark Waddicor & Nigel Browne


From Exmouth & East Devon Journal - Sat. 12 Apr 80:

....the powerful acting and plot reduced one to tears...

Gripping, powerful, moving production

One becomes almost nervous to criticise local amateur theatrical productions in case an irate producer comes storming into the Journal offices to defend either the production or the cast.

But in the case of the Estuary Players' production of Don Taylor's The Roses of Eyam there is very little that calls for adverse criticism.

The production, an extremely ambitious choice, was gripping, powerful and at times extremely moving.

It was well cast with the exception of Marshall Howe, played by Robert Fynn, who gave the impression that he was just reading his lines rather than acting a part.

The Roses of Eyam tells the remarkable and true story of a post Civil War Derbyshire village stricken with plague and of the villagers' determination, under the persuasion of the present and former rectors, to prevent its spread by remaining within the village and containing the disease at the certain risk to their own lives.

Anthony Morris played Willam Mompesson, the young, scholarly Rector of Eyam who has just left the confines of university and initially finds himself filled with feelings of disgust for the common village folk. He had a large part and was an absolute natural for it.

Philip Jones plays the rather bitter former Rector of Eyam, who was thrown out of his living when the King's men regained control of the area. He, too, fitted his part extremely well.

Mompesson's wife, Catherine, was interpreted well by Diana Lucas, who was particularly good in the scene when, after months of saintly devotion to the care of the sick and dying, she starts to crack and insists her husband send their two young children away to Yorkshire.

The insights into human tragedy in the play are enormous. When the rector's young wife finally succumbs to plague herself we suddenly see him struck with the awful reality of what it is like to lose a loved one instead of being merely a witness to someone else's tragedy.

There were moments when the powerful acting and plot reduced one to tears.

The cast of nearly 50 was far too big to mention each actor worthy of individual comment, but outstanding was young David Stevens as The Bedlam, the crippled mad boy who hangs round the village hoping for pennies to throw in the stream. He was quite brilliant, bringing humour, rather bizarre and twisted at times, into the horror of the tragedy.

Roy Wheeler as Old Unwin and Dick Dann as Andrew Merrill played two of the lighter characters in the play and provided some very funny moments to offset to a degree the horror of the times.

Producer Mary Jones must be congratulated on carrying off such an ambitious production. Yet another success to add to the Estuary Players' list of good productions.

- Reviewed by: M.E.


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