The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
August 6, 7, 8 & 9, 2003.
The Secret Rapture
by David Hare
Peta Taylor – Isobel Glass
Pat Lyne – Marion French [Isobel’s sister, a Conservative Junior Minister]
Bob Ryder – Tom French [Marion’s husband]
Katie Brownings – Katherine Glass [widowed step-mother to Marian & Isobel]
Philip Balding – Irwin Posner [Isobel’s partner]
Judith Berrill – Rhonda Milne [Marion’s PA]
Lighting Design – Mike Medway
Lighting Technician – Janice Gooch
Sound Design & Operation – Simon Snelling
Technical Manager – Mike Medway
Stage Manager – Marc Lewis
ASM – Olive Smith
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Properties – Margaret Davy
Costume Co-ordination – Cherry Briggs
Set Construction – Brian Box
Set Construction – Dave Comber
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Construction – Mike Davy
Set Construction – Marc Lewis
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Box Office – Margaret Murrell
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Programme Note #1: The Secret Rapture
The Director writes; “The Secret Rapture like so many of David Hare’s plays, appears to have a political theme. Set in the ‘get-rich-quick’ 1980s., it explores the lengths people will go to in order to achieve their goals. The central character is one of absolute goodness, always trying to do the right thing. Those around her are quick to exploit this, manipulating her to their benefit. It is therefore ultimately a play about emotional blackmail and dysfunctional relationships.
The play seems to have echoes of my own life. When I first saw it I was part of the money-grabbing culture, working unhappily as a computer programmer. A few years later I took the part of Irwin, by which time I was training as a psychiatric nurse. It was a useful insight into the way another person’s behaviour affects another and became increasingly aware of the perils of trying to please others. Love turns to obsessive behaviour. Is Isobel the victim here, or does she bring fate upon herself?
I am extremely lucky to have had great support from both my cast and from behind the scenes for this, my Directorial debut at the Barn. I would, however, especially like to thanks Peta Taylor who saved the show by stepping in a short notice and who has been rehearsing every night since!”
Review #1: The Secret Rapture
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Stephen Critchett
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The perils of Eighties-style avarice were neatly summed up in The Secret Rapture, a riveting cautionary tale from Wick Theatre Company. Captivating, expressive performances from each of the six cast members kept the packed Thursday night audience at Southwick’s Barn Theatre spellbound from start to finish. Full of twists and turns, David Hare’s plot kept everyone guessing, right to the explosive ending.
As Director John Garland explains: “The Secret Rapture like so many of David Hare’s plays, appears to have a political theme. Set in the ‘get-rich-quick’ 1980s, it explores the lengths people will go to in order to achieve their goals. The central character [Isobel Glass, played by Peta Taylor] is one of absolute goodness, always trying to do the right thing. Those around her are quick to exploit this, manipulating her to their benefit. It is therefore a play about emotional blackmail and dysfunctional relationships.” Indeed the part of Isobel was played to a tee by Peta. Her portrayal of the well-meaning but ultimately doomed Isobel was utterly convincing and provoked sympathy as she came to terms with, firstly her father’s death, then the break-up of her relationship with lover and business partner Irwin Posner [a heartfelt, flawless performance from Philip Balding].
Isobel was also faced with rescuing her alcoholic step-mother Katharine Glass [a superb performance of a hopeless loud-mouth soak by Katie Brownings, sometimes depressing, always attention grabbing] from oblivion. As if that were not enough to put up with, Isobel and Irwin’s design agency goes to the wall following an over-ambitious expansion plan.
High-flying Marion French, a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, was the exact opposite of her gentle, caring sister Isobel. Self-centred and driven, she understandably didn’t evoke the same level of empathy from the audience, politicians not being a popular breed. Pat Lyne played the scheming Marion with great skill and delivered one of the plays’ most poignant lines after her sisters meets her maker. Marion’s creepy, minxy PA, Rhonda [a delightfully energetic, amusing performance by Judith Berrill] says: “It seems everyone valued her” [Isobel]. To which Marion replies: “Why does everyone think it’s so smart to be poor?!” Marion’s hen-pecked husband Tom was yet another highlight: Bob Ryder’s mannerisms brought both amusement and suspicion to the rôle of the awkward chap standing in his wife’s shadow; but at the same time the person responsible for the ill-fated business decision to invest in Isobel’s company.
Combined with the lighting, set and intimate performance ‘in the round’, the package was well worth the investment.
Review #2: The Secret Rapture
Publication: Words & Music
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Gordon Bull
This thought-provoking play confronts us with so many of the questions which we avoid approaching about our own motives and responses. Why we do this rather than that. Why we trot out unthinking clichés. Bishop Robinson tried to get us to see the ground of our being in his controversial ‘Honest to God’. David Hare’s play attacks such a problem.
It revolves around the innocent and nice Isobel [scintillatingly played by stand-in Peta Taylor] trying to avoid giving offence even at cost to herself. She does her best to deflect brother-in-law Tom, as he attempts to get her to sign away her own business to become a partner in his parlous company run jointly with his wife. Her sister reviles her for the care of her late remarried father and for her continuing compassionate care for the louche step‑widow. Against all odds Isobel fails to rise to the bait and continues through to the dramatic end, as the greedy relatives’ motives are exposed to themselves by her unprovoked and gentle reactions.
Her brother-in-law Tom [Bob Ryder] performs brilliantly as the wet, evangelical, born-again Christian, whose own comments on any development good or bad are limited to ‘Alleluia’ or ‘Thanks to Jesus’ and ‘God’s Will’ with no other conviction. Isobel’s retort ‘but who perished the elastic?’ completely takes the wind from his sails after one such revelation, and with his high-Tory ministerial wife Marion [Pat Lyne] both play their black-mailing parts very effectively.
Katherine [Kate Brownings] the widow living off their late father gives cause to the family’s internecine war. But Isobel, though unappreciated, still defends her step-mother against all-comers. Marion’s PA, Rhonda [Judith Berrill] has a delightful walk-on part with just a few telling words which completely expose her boss and the family for what they are, as she neatly disappears in shock-horror: ‘What have I said?’ A lovely moment.
Whose ends are being served and who is made to suffer? I leave you to guess. A good play well acted.
Review #3: The Secret Rapture
Publication: West Sussex Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Jeremy Malies
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The Secret Rapture by Sussex-born Sir David Hare is a challenging play that has become popular all over the UK with amateur drama societies who often murder it. At the Barn Theatre in Southwick last week Wick Theatre Company performed hare’s masterpiece in a studio format with wit, verve and resourcefulness.
The piece is set in the Thatcherite late 80s and features Marion French [played by Pat Lyne] as a Minister for Energy. Politics have evolved so much that many of the speeches smacked of New Labour spin. Only my programme notes convinced me that the character was a Tory. Pat carried off the rôle of a parsimonious careerist with gusto and consistently reminded me of Diana Rigg in her pomp.
There are six characters, all of whom prove credible, resourceful and engaging. It would be difficult to criticise any of them. The most demanding rôle is that of Irwin Posner played by Philip Balding. Philip murders his estranged lover [Peta Taylor] in the play’s most ‘iffy’ moment. His presence and wonderful diction prevented the scene from descending into pure ‘ham’. Bob Ryder proved a riot of different, deceptive gestures as Pat’s husband, Tom. His character was a worthless and corrupt entrepreneur who has ostensibly found religion and become a Baptist minister with a penchant for total immersion, an enthusiasm that has wreaked havoc on the upkeep of his truly horrible polyester suits.
Criticisms? I hardly had any: this was a slick intelligent production. As Pat Lyne’s power-dressing secretary, Judith Berrill was grossly under-cast a servile PA. The scenery and props might have been more imaginative. Returning to the many positive features, the lighting by Mike Medway and Janice Goode was simple but effective, most notably in the murder scene. Kate Brownings played Katherine, the black sheep of the family, with much poise. I’m told that acting drunk and investing expletives with conviction are two of the hardest things to pull of on stage. Brownings drew on excellent technique and rose to the challenge with aplomb.
Directed by John Garland, this was a brave choice by the Wick Theatre Company.