Soham Grammarians: Hamlet 1956

Soham Grammar School presents The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare

source: R Hinze (1952)
L-R: David Crowe - Patricia Petch - GP Stevens - HW Peters - Robert Hinze, holding staff - Michael Franklin [brother of Jeremy] - Sylvia Wymer - Hilary Nockels - John Humphreys - Jeremy Franklin: 2nd arch Geoff Burton - Marilyn Williams: standing right Bob Cropley - Peter Robinson - Pat Cullen*: 3rd arch (hidden) - Mike Whitehead - Reg Guiver.

this is from a framed picture, let's call it A, found by SVC and handed over at the 2011 Dinner
L-R: seated, foreground 1 David Crowe - standing 2 - Peter Robinson - Colin Rush - Robert Hinze, holding staff
seated Geoff Burton - Sylvia Wymer - Hilary Nockels - kneeling, Jeremy Franklin - Marilyn Williams
standing Graves or Cresswell - Maurice Human (Player Queen) - standing Clarence/Bob Cropley - seated, in shadow 14

this is from another framed picture, let's call it B, found by SVC and handed over at the 2011 Dinner
L-R: Robert Hinze - Clarence/Bob Cropley - Jeremy Franklin - Hilary Nockels - Sylvia Wymer - Peter Robinson - John Humphreys.


Claudius, King of Denmark - HJH Nockels
Hamlet, son of the late, and nephew of the present King - JC Franklin
Ghost of Hamlet's Father - RG Sallis
Horatio, friend of Hamlet - CF Cropley
Polonius, Lord Chamberlain - GL Burton
Laertes, his son - J Humphreys
Rosencrantz, courtier - HW Peters
Guildenstern, courtier - RJ Tassell
Osric, courtier - PB Robinson
Francisco, a soldier - BS Germeney
Bernardo, an officer - RE Guiver
Marcellus, an officer - MK Whitehead
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway - JL Scotting
Captain - DP Elton
1st Player, Player King - CT Graves
2nd Player, Player Queen - M Human
3rd Player, Lucianus - CD Cresswell
4th Player, Prologue - JW Newman

Priest - GP Stevens
1st Gravedigger - TV Murfitt
2nd Gravedigger - PS Tuck
Standard-bearer - JP Herod
Sailor - EG Fretwell
Steward - RG Hinze
Councillor - CJ Rush
Attendant (& Prompter) - M Wilmore
Pages - MA Franklin, DA Crowe, PT Cullen

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark and mother of Hamlet - Sylvia Wymer
Ophelia, daughter of Polonius - Marilyn Williams
Lady-in-Waiting - Patricia Petch

Scene The Royal Palace at Elsinore

There will be two short intervals. Incidental music by Holst and Elgar

Producer: Mr RN Joiner

The Producer wishes to thank Miss Enid Barr, County Drama Adviser, for her great help with so many aspects of the production

Decor: Mr PJ Askem
Sword-play devised by Mr KJ Revell
Costume by Miss E Barr, Mrs R Green, Mrs D Drake, Mrs V Pettit, Mrs KM Boyce, Mrs MA Trinder, Mrs Armitage, Mrs Ford, Mrs Kitchen, Mrs Quinn Mrs Waller, Mrs Webb
Wardrobe arrangements Mr E Quinn
Business Manager: Mr SR Saunders
Make-Up: Miss E Barr, Mr CR Waller, Mr SR Saunders, Mr and Mrs PJ Askem
Construction of Scenery under the direction of Mr EH Tabraham
The School wishes to thank all those who have helped the production in any way, including the following boys who assisted with the building and painting of the scenery:
JC Baker, MJ Boyden, P Bush, CJ Collins, H Cordon, PJ Cox, BS Germeney, MJ Hallam, BW Housden, J Howe, MJK Payton, MR Peacock, PB Robinson, EW Simper, AD Warren

L-R: Robert Hinze - JP Herod: Peter Robinson in arch, with bodies Sylvia Wymer and Hilary Nockels below him: 3rd arch JL Scotting: soldier ?
foreground: Jeremy Franklin held by Bob Cropley - John Humphreys
source: R Hinze (1952):

Soham Grammarian Summer 1956

To produce "Hamlet" at all is a feat of which any amateurs can be justifiably proud, but to produce it as well as the School did at the end of last term on such an inadequate stage (one might almost say "platform") seems in retrospect a near miracle.

In spite of the necessary "cuts" all the various trends and contrasts in the play were evident. For example, all the sides of Hamlet's character could be seen - his uncontrollable feelings in the "play" scene, his grief for his father, his bitter self-torturing melancholy and his very human sense of enjoyment as he laughed with Horatio and the players.

The part of Hamlet calls for a very good actor, and Franklin, being such a fine natural actor, filled the part with his usual competence, holding the audience in rapt attention whenever he was on the stage. Cropley, as his friend Horatio, played sincerely and beautifully, yet never drew the audience's attention away from Hamlet.

Similarly, Humphreys played Laertes in a way which never distracted attention from the Prince, yet (with his manliness and action) made a remarkable contrast to the latter's indecisiveness. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - Peters and Tassell - played as they should - as a team - so much so, in fact, that a master was heard to say that they reminded him of Bulganin and Krushchev.

Burton surmounted the tremendous difficulties of a youth playing the part of an old man very ably, and made Polonius amusing and endearing, and at his end, pitiful. Robinson provided comic relief in the part of Osric without ever giving the impression that he was overdoing the comedy to play for applause.

Sallis made an excellent Ghost, and his impressiveness was due to his regal stride and lilting voice as much as to his eerie-looking costume.

Marilyn Williams as Ophelia and Sylvia Wymer as Gertrude, "on loan" from Ely High School, gave magnificent performances. Every word they said was beautifully enunciated, and Marilyn Williams presented Ophelia's madness in a touching and beautiful way. Sylvia Wymer portrayed the easily-swayed Gertrude most maturely, and both were a credit to their school, as was Patricia Petch as the lady-in-waiting. These three added a "finish" to the play which could not possibly have been achieved by boys.

Nockels did not quite achieve the villainy which one would have expected from his make-up, but it can be argued that he interpreted the part rightly inasmuch as Claudius is not a complete villain, as his constant regard for Gertrude, and his occasional care for Hamlet show. Nockels did, however, skilfully convey Claudius' cunning through the way he stealthily worked on Laertes' bitterness and grief in the poison-plot scene.

It is impossible to give detailed mention to all the actors, each of whom appeared so well cast, but a general tribute must be paid to the soldiers (Guiver, Germeney, Whitehead) for their most effective alternation of tenseness and chilled horror with exciting action; to the Players (Human, Graves, Newman, Cresswell) for their attractively stylised playing; to Murfitt and Tuck for the rich local flavour they gave to the Gravediggers; to the steward and pages (Hinze, Franklin, Crowe, Cullen) for doing so much to convey the Court atmosphere; and to Scotting for the impressive and sincere dignity with which he played Fortinbras.

The excellent costumes added considerably to the confidence of the actors and to the beauty of the whole play. So did Mr. Askem's set of different sized arches, which gave an appearance of added dimensions and depths. They were remarkably adaptable to the various scenes and very ingeniously arranged when one takes into account the size and peculiar shape of the stage. The beautiful tapestries on the stage and flanking it all added to the attractiveness of the scenes, as did the ingenious lighting system. The tape-recorder once more proved a valuable asset in providing the well-chosen and remarkably effective music. One cannot help feeling, however, that the speech telling of Ophelia's death would have been better left without accompanying music, which had a rather cheapening, over-emotional effect better left to Hollywood.

The whole play was an excellent example of team effort, a spirit which was instilled into the performers by the unceasing efforts of the producers, Mr. Joiner and Miss E. Barr, County Drama Adviser. Both showed a relentless regard for artistic integrity and attention to detail which was the hallmark of a magnificent production of which the school will always be proud.


from the July 1956 Ely High School magazine


... Last term Sylvia Wymer and Marilyn Williams acquitted themselves excellently in the women's parts in the production of "Hamlet" by Soham Grammar School.


Robert Hinze (1952): Hamlet had Jeremy Franklin in the lead role. He was a particularly fine actor with a depth and understanding that left us in the pale - and some of us were quite good! Many of us thought he would take it up professionally.

* Neil Holmes 52: Pat 'Teddy Boy' Cullen - Pat was the first SGS pupil to sport a D.A. haircut, much favoured by 1950s teddy boys, and much loathed and ridiculed by Lawrence, Riley and Armitage. We (his contemporaries) considered his style to be really fashionable and fab.

If you have other photographs or reviews for this production, please contact the editor

programme source (March 21 1956): David Cross (1954): IDs by David Crowe, Neil Holmes, Helen Smith

page last updated 27 Dec 11