The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
January 8 & 9 1954.
Summer in December
by James Liggart
M E Clifton-James
Betty Gedge – Effie
John Wilson – Nigel Wainwright
Betty Carpenter – Elspeth French
Ralph Dawes – Colonel Waters
Ian McLeod – David Payne
Ian Elliott – Terry Holmes
Sylvia Sartin – Judy Holmes
Edwin Tupper – Edward Kingsley
Jennifer Hall – Angela Kingsley
Diana Hubbard – Rowena Smith
Joy Mumford – Muriel Kingsley
Peter Carpenter – M Anatole
Stage Manager – Sylvia Chatfield
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Effects – John Chatfield
Properties – Elaine Smithers
Properties – Pat Hollingworth
Wardrobe – Betty Perry
Publicity #1: Summer in December
Publication Data: Unknown
A retired professional West End actor, Mr. G Clifton-James, of Worthing, is the producer of the Young Wick Players latest stage venture Summer in December. Interested in encouraging young drama enthusiasts Mr. Clifton-James has recently completed a book describing his wartime experiences as one of Field Marshall Montgomery’s doubles. Mr. James Liggat’s modern comedy is set in a family hotel on the north-east coast at Christmas time. There are two children in the cast, and these juvenile rôles will be played by teenagers Jennifer Hall and Ian McLeod. It will be Ian’s first appearance as a member of the group. The adult leading parts will be taken by John Wilson and Betty Carpenter, who have already proved themselves worthy of such distinction.
Review #1: Summer in December
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: January 16 1954 issue – page 8
Text header: “This was one of their best”
ONE of the Young Wick Players best productions was staged at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last week. In James Liggat’s Summer in December, they found a play which suited them admirably. It tells the story of a war widow who runs a small hotel but lives with her memories, until she finds she is needed by someone else. This is the main theme, but the hotel guests and various problems provide an interesting background.
Two main characters, Elspeth French, the hotel proprietress and writer Nigel Wainwright, her devoted admirer, were well cast and well played by Betty Carpenter and John Wilson. Betty Gedge was priceless ass Effie the slatternly maid; she timed her laughs well and made the most of them. Sylvia Sartin as a young wife. Diane Hubbard a designing female and Ian McLeod as young David Payne were particularly good in their respective rôles.
A little more attention to the setting would have made this good production by M. E. Clifton-James even better.
Review#2: Summer in December
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: January 15 1954 issue – page 16
Text Header: “Good acting in a comedy about hotel types”
For the second time this season the Young Wick Players can claim an outstanding success. In James Liggat’s comedy Summer in December, which was presented at the Barn Theatre, Southwick on Friday and Saturday, the acting reached a high level all round. The weakness of their previous production, shortage of male actors, has been remedied and last week-end the men gave an agreeable performance. Now that an able company has been recruited the Players ought to attempt something a little more ambitious than facile domestic comedy.
The play Summer in December is pleasant enough, telling of the domestic tangles of the guests at a seaside boarding house, but the plot, based on the framework of a writer’s reminiscences, never seems to get anywhere. Comic and dramatic situations are missed for the sake of introducing a host of stock comic characters such as the servant, the tipsy colonel and the mad Frenchman. The Players exploited these to the full. John Wilson took in his stride the part of Nigel Wainwright, the writer. It was difficult role, for he was the only person who had to combine comedy and melodrama.
Ian Elliott and Edwin Tupper, as Terry Holmes and Edward Kingsley, had to make the most of their less attractive parts as problem husbands. They must be congratulated on not making them appear too dull. Ralph Dawes hit the mark with his impersonation of a crusty old colonel. His gravely voice added to the characterisation. Of the romantic scenes perhaps the most touching was that between the two young lovers, Angela Kingsley and David Payne. Jennifer Hall showed great conviction as Angela and Ian McLeod gave her good support. Betty Gedge’s Effie, the impertinent hotel servant, left little to be desired. Miss Gedge has brought the type of role to a fine art.
Betty Carpenter, as Elspeth French, was the best of the more serious characters. It is very difficult to introduce a serious note in a near-farce, but Miss Carpenter succeeded admirably. When the author introduces three more serious female roes it rather spoils the balance between comedy and melodrama. Sylvia Sartin, Diana Hubbard and Joy Mumford took the parts of the three women each with her own marital troubles, forcefully and attractively. The three fairly similar characters were portrayed with the maximum of contrast. Elwyn Wass took and amusing minor rôle.
Good acting was matched by the competent production by Mr. M E Clifton-James who is new to the Players. The only real fault was the scenery, which was rather drab.