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November 27, 1997

When We Are Married

Pirton Players did Priestley’s play ‘When We Are Married’ proud when they performed this superb comedy in late November in the Village Hall. I attended the Saturday performance when the audience was treated to a wonderful, not to be forgotten, evening’s entertainment – I am reliably informed that this was also the case on the other two evenings.

From the moment one entered the hall, the foyer was adorned with a simple yet highly effective display of books giving a realistic Victorian feel to the occasion, giving an early indication of what was to come. We were not disappointed, for on entering the hall one was smitten by the fine Victorian living room set, a tribute to the design and set construction team who, with skilful use of props and the space available to them, created a feeling of being transported back to a bygone age – all this before even a word had been spoken.

Casting was excellent and the performance flowed smoothly to set the scene. There were no awkward moments and the play unfolded to reveal a near perfect balance between the three male protagonists who had climbed the social ladder in their small northern town, with fine performances from Roger Southam, as the pompous Alderman Helliwell, Michael Tackley as the no nonsense councillor and the downtrodden Herbert Soppit, beautifully played by Dud Gentle even if, in his delivery, he seemed to have drawn generously from a well-known soap character – why reinvent the wheel? It suited the part admirably.

Judy Atkinson, Penny Siddons and Sue Kennedy gave spirited performances as the wives, as did Laura Woodward as the maid who periodically kept us informed of essential off-stage events throughout the play. Ron Hart’s portrayal of Mrs Northrop brought a formidable presence to the part of the housekeeper. Paul and Louise Kerswill played to their usual high standards and Victoria Tackley as Nancy, Stephen Thorpe as Gerald and Graham Gibbs as the Rev. Mercer gave convincing performances.

Priestly relies on Henry Ormonroyd, the ‘Argus’ photographer, to convey much of his northern humour – so much hinges on this part it does not bear contemplation if handled wrongly. In Stephen Jaynes we were not disappointed; in his portrayal of the confused, confusing and muddled inebriate he gave a truly outstanding performance.

Betty Turner’s direction of the play was brilliant – clearly her experience shone through – the flavour of the Yorkshire scene in the early part of the century was captured with considerable skill. The humour, of which there was plenty, was conveyed to the audience with style. Nobody let her down, for it was very evident that much hard work had gone into the production. The whole evening was a roaring success, from the front of house management to the smooth running of the bar and refreshments, the make-up, hair, wardrobe, lighting, sound and stage management all contributed to a memorable evening. [Review by: Brian Nicoll]

Director  -  Betty Turner

Albert Parker  -  Michael Tackley
Alderman Helliwell  -  Roger Southam
Annie Parker  -  Penny Picken
Clara Soppit  -  Sue Kennedy
Fred Dyson  -  Paul Kerswill
Gerald Forbes  -  Stephen Thorpe
Henry Ormonroyd  -  Stephen Jaynes
Herbert Soppit  -  Dudley Gentle
Lottie Grady  -  Lou Robinson
Marie Helliwell  -  Judy McDonnell
Mrs Northrop  -  Ron Hart
Nancy  -  Victoria Tackley
Rev Mercer  -  Graham Gibbs
Ruby Birtle  -  Laura Woodward

Bar  -  Peter Johnson
Box Office  -  Betty Turner
Box Office  -  Ann Fausset
Costumes  -  Harlequin Hire
Director  -  Betty Turner
Front of House  -  Derek Jarrett
Hair  -  Sue Gray
Hair  -  Valerie Souster
Lighting  -  Chris Stimson
Make-up  -  Susie Welch
Make-up  -  Marina Lake
Make-up  -  Loretta Hobbs
Make-up  -  Julia Thorpe
Make-up  -  Jan Simmons
Make-up  -  Fran Manning
Printing  -  Pam Finbow
Programme Seller  -  Derek Jarrett
Props  -  Ann Fausset
Props  -  Liz Gentle
Props  -  Juliet Alexander
Props  -  Liz Chapman
Props  -  Susie Welch
Refreshments  -  Pam Finbow
Set Construction  -  Michelle Poynter-Brown
Set Construction  -  Keiron Jones
Set Construction  -  Graham Gibbs
Set Construction  -  Dave Timson
Set Construction  -  Brian Sommerville
Set Construction  -  Barrie Simmons
Set Design  -  Tim Welch
Sound  -  Dave Wallace
Stage Manager  -  Geoff Welch
Wardrobe  -  Betty Turner
Wardrobe  -  Betty Timson

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