Soham Grammarians - A Midsummer Night's Dream, July 1941
School and Old Boys' Dramatic Societies

Soham Grammarian Summer 1941

A brilliant success was achieved by the School and Old Boys' Dramatic Societies when a production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was given on the School lawn, on July 4th and 5th. The female parts, with the exception of Thisbe, were played by friends of the School.

The play was acted in the beautiful natural setting of the School grounds, and the perfect midsummer weather made the effective costumes even more effective. The incidental music was chosen from Chopin, Mendelssohn, Strauss, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tschaikowski ; and we are greatly indebted to Mrs D Fyson for so ably looking after the musical side of the play. Mr Crouch, the producer, had, by dint of much hard work, combined the various elements to produce a final harmonious effect. The cast was almost ideally chosen, and as much time and care as possible had been spent on rehearsals.

Theseus (Mr Peacock) spoke blank verse clearly, with a fine sense of poetic rhythm, and had a very noble and dignified bearing. Hippolyta (Mary Waldock) was equally imposing in appearance and was distinctly Amazonian; her elocution was excellent, and she always acted with both grace and power. [Egeus (WC Allen) was convincing as a somewhat choleric and aged father exercising his authority. He has a pleasant voice and is learning to use it with effect. LGJ]. Philostrate (Eric Smith) was a well poised, debonair master of ceremonies ; he spoke clearly and with feeling. The attendants (John Leggett, Derek Thorby, Raymond Hubbard and Colin Lown) were very impressive, and made a very colourful background for the rest of the Court.

The parts of the Rude Mechanicals were taken by members of the School. Quince (Philip Foreman) gave an excellent impression of a half-witted, nervous stage manager with a hopeless task. Bottom (Cecil Crouch) was a part with many scintillating facets; he was an aggressive ringleader, a ranting barnstormer, a village half-wit and the perfect braggadocio all in turn, and was an inspiration to the rest of the actors. Flute (Derek Darby) was an astonishing revelation for a first appearance. His acting as Thisbe was very good, although his high-pitched falsetto was a little overdone at times. Snout (John Cotton) made a stalwart Wall speaking in clipped Cockney, and got everything possible out of the part. Starveling (Patrick Norman) gave an excellent impression of a village imbecile gone senile. Snug (Alfred Thompson) developed lion-like roars as if by instinct, and made good stage use of his tail as well.

Of the lovers, special mention must be made of Demetrius (Edward Bond). He had only a week in which to learn the part, and the sound display he gave was the result of much hard work. He had a very imposing appearance and with his classical profile, was well fitted for the part in every way. Lysander (John Peacock), although acting and speaking well, was rather overshadowed by Demetrius. He was, however, well fitted for the part, having a very noble and imposing appearance. The women lovers were both excellent. Helena (Helen Emerson) spoke very clearly, and she did well in a part whose monotone of pathos and complaint is generally too apt to incite ridicule rather than admiration, whilst Hermia (Tilly Elliot) was very piquant. Together they seized every opportunity to add to the dramatic effect of their scenes.

Oberon (Ronald Harding), having a majestic appearance, made an ideal King, speaking his lines well - a first-rate attempt at a difficult part for any school boy to play - altogether an interesting debut as an actor, whilst Titania (Wendy Winn) was delightful in her actions, and showed unerring stage sense. Her poses in the floral fairy world were particularly charming. First Fairy (Mary Hobbs) was a delight to watch, as she has an excellent sense of rhythm and a beautiful agility which is the more beautiful for its self-control. She made the best possible companion for Puck (Fred Hockley), who had an amazing versatility of movement, gesture and intonation as well as being gifted with a richly resonant voice, and gave a performance of the part rarely equalled on the professional stage. The younger fairies (Michael Lee, Rex Whitta Reginald Martin and Denis Bradshaw) were dapper, vivid and agile, and their groupings and symbolic mimings were dramatically suggestive and alluring.

The dances were all arranged by Mary Hobbs. Between Acts IV and V there was an interval for the silver collection. Altogether 18 11s. was collected for the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. The School was proud to have among its visitors, Group Captain F. J. Fogarty, D.F.C., A.F.C., of the Royal Air Force.

W. C. ALLEN, VIB


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last update 18 Nov 2007