Soham Grammarians - The Tempest, 16 July 1947

Soham Grammarian Autumn 1947

The second production of the Dramatic Society was that of The Tempest by William Shakespeare on July 16th, the occasion of the retirement of Mr AB Ramsay from his position as Chairman of the Governors.

The performance was in the open air on the School lawn. Fortunately, the morning's pessimistic weather-forecast did not materialize, and although the sun disappeared for a short while and a little rain did fall, the play was able to proceed in comparatively fine weather.

Mr JF Symmons as Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, was very good throughout the play. He most realistically portrayed a strong fatherly affection for his daughter, deep gratitude to Gonzalo, great emotion at the conspiracy of Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano, bitter-feelings for Antonio and Alonzo, and strength and nobleness of character during the whole of the play. In this, by far the largest part in the play, Mr Symmons gave a very fine performance.

Constable, although undeniably good, cannot be so highly complimented in his role of Miranda. He showed an understanding of his part, but it was not complete in every detail. In the opening scene for instance, he did not bring off the vast pity that should have been surging inside him, and he also seemed to forget that Ferdinand was supposed to be the third man that he had seen since the age of three. Apart from blemishes such as these, Constable played his part well.

As Ariel, Lack was also good. His tripping about the stage was a delight to watch, but it was rather a disadvantage in my opinion that he was unable to sing his own songs, for although P Bobby sang very well behind the scenes the effect of the voice coming from first one side and then the other to haunt Ferdinand was rather slurred.

Trett's Caliban was really "of the earth, earthy" as regards both his make-up, a great credit to Mr Dunning, and his acting, a great credit to himself. Trett was probably the only character that had to garble his normal voice a great deal to suit his character, and this he did to an excellent degree that was maintained the whole time.

The part of Ferdinand, the son of the King of Naples, and the lover of Miranda, was taken by Hartley. He suited the part admirably in appearance, but his acting was rather at fault in the most brisk and energetic manner in which he carried off the log at the end of the first Scene in Act Three. Neither was his wooing of Miranda all one might have expected.

The remaining characters in the main plot, Alonzo, Antonio, Sebastian, Gonzalo and Francisco suffered the most from the numerous cuts that had to be made in the play. Gonzalo probably suffered the heaviest, but acting his part PK Nicholls brought out the traits in the character very well indeed. As King of Naples, Bobby was reasonably good, too, although the speeches in which he lamented the supposed death of his son did not quite have all the motion and force they should have done, and his vowel production was not particularly good. Reed carried the part of Francisco, or rather what appeared to be the combined parts of Adrian and Francisco very much dehydrated, as well as one could carry such an insignificant part.

Godfrey and Forrester as Sebastian and Antonio, the real villains of the play, put up a good, but by no means distinguished, performance. Forrester might perhaps have done better if he could have at least modified his Scottish accent and given his reasons for killing Alonzo and the others in a more persuaive manner. A little variation of tone would have greatly improved Godfrey's part.

The unavoidable result of the numerous cuts in the main plot was to increase the importance of the sub-plot, which was acted in its entirety. Thus, instead of being a light touch of comedy to relieve what might otherwise have been a rather monotonous main plot, the sub-plot tended to steal much of the attraction and interest, that should have been almost wholly centred on the principal action.

As Stephano, the drunken butler, Watts once again provided us with some of his most energetic and whole-hearted acting. On this occasion, however, as his performance served to enhance the undesirable importance of the sub-plot, a little less of his fooling might have been a better thing. Nevertheless, Watts was very good, and in a full performance of the play with the accent completely on main plot his playing might have been accounted excellent.

Taylor took the part of Trinculo, the clown, the only other character in the subplot except Caliban, who has been dealt with elsewhere. Taking his age into account, Taylor's acting was fine in the highest degree. His fooling was not boisterous like Stephano's, but more controlled; it was still causing amusement at the end of the play when that of the former was becoming just slightly distasteful. One must admit that as the fool Taylor had none of the deeper emotions to depict, but yet he acted his part with very great effect.

To sum up, Mr IR Bell is to be congratulated on infusing fresh life into the traditional annual School play. The choice of the play was not perhaps the wisest although this may have been curbed to a great extent by the fact that most of the plays suitable for open-air production have already been performed. In spite of this, however, the acting and production were of a very high level.

Behind the scenes also doing good and valuable work were Mr Dunning, the make-up artist and wardrobe superintendent, and A Boyce who together with a few helpers was responsible for the setting of the natural stage. Boyce in particular did meritorious service, and to these also congratulations must be extended.


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last update 18 Nov 2007