The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
December 28, 29 [+ mat], 30 [+ mat], 31 [+ mat] 1995 – January 01 [+mat] 1996.
The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner
by David Wood
Derek Fraser – Glow Worm
Beth Bryant – Ladybird
Jane Porter – Ant
John Garland – Slug
Charles Porter – Red Admiral
Katalin Szeless – Greenfly
Joanna Chalk – Maggot
Rebecca Faggetter – Bumble Bee
Joan Braddock – The Great Mushroom
Joan Bearman – Spider
Ralph Dawes – The Big Ones [Voices off]
Betty Dawes – The Big Ones [Voices off]
Musical Director – Nick Ryder
Guitar – Bob Ryder
Stage Manager – Dave Comber
Assistant Stage Manager – Dave Collis
Lighting & Sound – Andy Chalk
Lighting & Sound – Martin Bryant [instructed by Patrick Roberts]
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Stage Management Team – Brian Box
Stage Management Team – David Comber
Stage Management Team – Dave Collis
Stage Management Team – Michael Davy
Set Construction & Painting – Ralph Dawes
Set Construction & Painting – Mark Flower
Set Construction & Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Construction & Painting – Frances Thorne
Costumes & Character Design – Judith Berrill
Costumes & Character Design – Margaret Faggetter
Publicity – Judith Williamson
Theatre & Publicity Photographs – George Laye
Front of House Manager – Frank Child
Box Office – Anna Barden
Programme Note #1: The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner
RH wrote: “I first met the author, David Wood, at the end of the fifties, when we were both members of the West Sussex Youth Theatre. His talents as an actor / musician / performer were obvious then, and it was no surprise to see his rise to success at Oxford in the Burton / Taylor production of Dr Faustus continuing with his leading rôle in Lindsay Anderson’s film If. He was also a nominee for the Plays and Players Newcomers Award.
As an aside to this, we appeared together at the Barn Theatre, in 1961 – I think, in a revue which I produced and I seem to remember that I never paid him his 2/6d train fare expenses. Perhaps this production might ease that debt, although I have kept a spare half-crown by – just in case!
However, I was not aware of his writing talents until much later, when taking my delighted daughters to see most of his Christmas plays for children, which enjoyed great popularity in the seventies.
It was of course my eldest daughter Jo [out very own Maggot!], who persuaded me to direct for the Wick again after many years absence. And what fun it’s been! How delightful to work on a play that appeals to those of us who think Winnie the Pooh and The Railway Children are the height of English literature.
I do hope we are able to convey to you our delight in the charm, innocence and humour of this ideal Christmas treat for our children, and … their grandparents!”
Programme Note #2: The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner
Ray and David Wood corresponded ahead of this production and David sent this message: December 1995
“I was delighted to hear that the Wick Theatre Company had decided to present Plotters. Of my 40 or so musical plays for children, Plotters has a special relevance. It was my first ‘original’ play as opposed to an adaptation from a well-known children’s book, and as such taught me a lot about storytelling as well as the craft of playwriting!
The play was commissioned by The Swan Theatre, Worcester. Alison Steadman, who had only recently left drama school, played Greenfly, and the play was directed by Mick Hughes, who later became [as he still is ] one of the country’s top theatre lighting designers. The premiere in 1970 was followed by a London production at the Shaw Theatre in 1971. Jonathan Lynn, later to write Yes, Minister for television directed splendidly and Julia McKenzie played Ladybird. Intriguingly, ‘Whispering’ Paul McDowell, the original singer with the Temperance seven, played the Great Mushroom!
I’m happy to say that the play has been in the amateur and professional repertoire ever since. It’s ‘green’ theme helped it take off in Germany in the late eighties. And a recent professional production at Leeds Playhouse was hailed as a ‘splendidly topical new play’ by a young reporter on the local paper! Needless to say I was delighted!
Delighted, too, that Ray Hopper, with whom I shared many happy times on youth drama courses in Sussex, is directing this production. I wish him and his Company and audiences all the very best – ‘may your garden grow’ ”
Review #1: The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: January 5 1996 issue – page 11
Reviewer: John Bedford
Text Header: “Everything in the garden is lovely, apart from the Slug and his obnoxious behaviour”
This year’s Christmas production by Wick Theatre Company provided a welcome alternative to the usual Cinderella or Aladdin yarn. The audience was instead treated to a glimpse of summer in the form of The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner, a pantomime set in a country garden.
The play tells the story of Slug and his insect friends, Maggot, Greenfly and Ant, who are fed up with the ‘big ones’ spraying them with insect spray. The garden’s other insects are quite happy with the situation, though, and do not want to see their home ruined by the antics of Slug and his gang. A number of skirmishes between the two sides take place, including a tense situation when the heroic Red Admiral and his friends Ladybird and Bumble Bee are trapped in a flower-pot by Slug.
As you might expect , good wins the day and the ‘big ones’ decide not to build a garage on the garden after all. As with all the best pantomimes, the audience were heavily involved in helping the plight of the goodies – booing and hissing Slug and even taking on the guise of the ‘big ones’ to scare off the nasty creature.
An enthusiastic cast, dressed in some very clever costumes, seemed to enjoy themselves almost as much as the audience, who were soon singing along with the cast in some catchy tunes. Kids of all ages left the Barn Theatre, Southwick, no doubt wishing they could get that very catchy tune out of their head and with a totally different attitude to the little insect friends that we have all cursed in the past.
Mind you, I would think twice about tackling a slug the size of the one in this play.
Review #2: The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner
Publication: Wick Newsletter
Publication Data: January 1996
Reviewer: Jayne Guildford of Ringmer Players [who produced Plotters three years ago] Text: Content
The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner, a humorous and charming musical play was Wick’s seasonal offering of children’s entertainment. This topical play, exploring ‘environmentally friendly’ issues is currently receiving a great deal of interest internationally and Director Ray Hopper, who remembers appearing at the Barn Theatre with the play’s author David Wood in the 1960s, expressed delight at being able to produce this enchanting show while returning to direct with the Wick.
The audience were treated to a magnified view of a garden where we meet an array of insects and shared in their efforts to deal with the implications of constant spraying by the ‘big humans’. An ingeniously designed larger that life set provided a magical environment where the actors were completely at home. The lively, all-singing, all-dancing cast formed a strong bond and an air of pantomime prevailed. The characters carried few insect-like features and their introduction was largely offered by the script. However, costumes were colourful and expressed the simplicity of normal everyday dress whilst creating additional interest using comic characterisations: a gangster Slug, a green Janet Street-Porter look-alike called Greenfly and cheeky Maggot, glorious in cap and short trousers! One highlight was undoubtedly an elderly Mushroom with a bad cold – and a North country accent.
At the end, captivated young collaborators from the audience helped the insects to rebuild the garden with potted plants and flowers – such a joy to see in the depth of winter! This excellent production retained a gentle innocence so lacking in children’s entertainment today.