The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
December 7 & 8 1956
A Phoenix Too Frequent was first performed in 1954 as part of the Southwick Community Centre’s Festival of Art & Crafts. The Young Wick Players were placed first in the One-Act competition. Molly Penney directed and Patrick Johnson assisted. Pat took the part of Tageus-Chromis in this 1956 production since Ian Elliott was away at college.
The decision to repeat the production as part of this Four One-Act Plays was to present before a wider audience.
A Phoenix Too Frequent
by Christopher Fry
Betty Carpenter – Dynamene
Betty Gedge – Doto
Patrick Johnson – Tegenus-Chrom
by George Bernard Shaw
Ralph Dawes – Patiomkin
Patricia Holloway – Varinka
Ross Workman – Sergeant
Patrick Johnson – Edstaston
Adrian Hedges – Naryshkin
Judy Wilkey – Princess Dashkoff
Betty Gedge – Catherine
Betty Carpenter – Claire
Joseph Moherne – 1st soldier
Seamus McGurk – 2nd soldier
A Room in the Tower
by Hugh Stewart
Diane Topping – Mrs. Tylney
Mary Gedge – Lady Jane Grey
Patricia Mason – Mrs. Ellen
Jean Porter – Mary Tudor
by Anthony Pelissier
Seamus McGurk – The Man
Valerie Briggs – The Girl
Stage Manager – Clive Townsend
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Review #1: Four One-Act Plays
Publication: West Sussex Gazette
Publication Data: December 13 1956 issue – page 9
Text Header: THE YOUNG WICK PLAYERS
Four one-act plays of varying periods and types were presented in the Barn Theatre on Friday and Saturday by the young Wick Players with conspicuous success.
The programme began in the present with Anthony Pelissier’s ” November Afternoon.” produced by Patrick Johnson, in which Seamus McGurk played the Man, and Valerie Briggs the Girl.
Next came Christopher try’s ” A Phoenix too Frequent,” set in the tomb of Virilitis near Ephesus, with Betty Carpenter as Dynamene, Betty Gedge as Doto, and Patrick Johnson as Tegeus- Chromis. This play was produced by Elizabeth Penney.
Next was staged the Elizabethan “A Room in the Tower,” by Hugh Stewart, which Frances Moulton produced, and the excellent cast was Diana Topping (Mrs. Tylney), Mary Gedge (Lady Jane Grey). Patricia Mason (Mm. Ellen) Jean Porter (Mary Tudor)
Finally came Bernard Shaw’s “Great Catherine,” another production by Elizabeth Penney. The characters were portrayed by Ralph Dawes. Patricia Holloway, Ross Workman. Patrick Johnson. Adrian Hedges, Judy Wilkey, Betty Gedge (Catherine I), Betty Carpenter, Kenneth Wilson and Seamus McGurk.
Review #2: Four One-Act Plays
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 14 1956 issue – page 5
Text Header: “Young Wick Players do a good job”
THE Young Wick Players provided a varied evening’s entertainment on Friday and Saturday with four one-act plays, two being Festival winners in 1954 and 1956.
For me, Betty Gedge made the evening, first as the delightfully earthy Doto in Christopher Fry’s A Phoenix Too Frequent, and later in the evening as Catherine in George Bernard Shaw’s Great ; no mean feat. In the former the set and lighting were effective and the cast of three [Dynamene, by Betty Carpenter, and Tegeus-Chromis, by Patrick Johnson], under intelligent direction, made the most of their lines and enabled the audience to savour this comedy to the full.
I was therefore a little disappointed to see that producer Elizabeth Penney, while able to reveal the subtleties of Fry’s humour, should fall down on the straightforward comedy of Shaw, for in the second main play there was just a little too much slapstick and over-acting, so that at times the effect was third-rate pantomime.
Patrick Johnson, too, had a full part in this play, and I found myself getting a little tired of him: his voice lacks a wide enough dramatic range, and someone must tell him about his hands; excitement, emotion, emphasis – they were all signified by clenched fists on arms bent at the elbows. But he did put over some wonderful lines in his coy pose.
Anthony Pelissier’s November Afternoon was an ideal curtain-raiser which was well conveyed by Seamus McGurk, Valerie Briggs will do better as her experience increases. A Room in the Tower, by Hugh Stewart, was a little too long for the second curtain-raiser and not, perhaps, a happy choice so soon after Southwick audiences had seen The Young Elizabeth. Mary Gedge was an attractive Lady Jane and Jean Porter an able Mary Tudor.
Other parts in the plays were taken by Diana Topping [Tylney], Patricia Mason [Ellen], Ralph Dawes [Patiomkin], Patricia Holloway [Varinka], Derek Wass [ Sergeant’, Adrian Hedges [Naryshkin], Judy Wilkey [Princess Dashkoff], Betty Carpenter [Claire], Joseph Mohern and Seamus McGurk [soldiers]. Frances Moulton and Patrick Johnson produced the curtain-raisers.
Considering the difficulties the Young Wicks did a good job with the four plays, providing many a laugh. Oh yes, I did hear the music, thank you! [Web ed: see HTC’s review of Pygmalion to see the ‘music’ context!]
Review #3: Four One-Act Plays
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: “Two Lively Comedies” – Young Wick Players Shine
AUDIENCES at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, at the week-end enjoyed four plays presented by the Young Wick Players.
The main part of the programme consisted of two one-act comedies – Christopher Fry’s A Phoenix To Frequent and George Bernard Shaw’s Great Catherine, both admirably produced by Elizabeth Penney. In these two lively pieces, there was some outstanding acting from Betty Gedge, playing Doto in the Fry triolet, with Betty Carpenter [Dynamene] and Patrick Johnson [Tegeus-Chromis], and Catherine in Shaw’s satire set in 18th Century Russia.
Each of the comedies was preceded by a curtain-raiser in contrasting serious mood – Anthony Pelissier’s sad little park bench meeting between a girl and a blind man in November Afternoon [Valerie Briggs and Seamus McGurk], produced by Patrick Johnson, and Hugh Stewart’s all-women period playlet, A Room in the Tower, performed by Diana Topping, Mary Gedge, Patricia Mason and Jean Porter, under the direction of Frances Moulton.
Those taking part in Great Catherine included Ralph Dawes, Patricia Holloway, Derek Ross, Patrick Johnson, Adrian Hedges, Judy Wilkey, Betty Gedge, Betty Carpenter, Joseph Moherne and Seamus McGurk.
Comment #1: Four One-Act Plays
Author: Archivist Ray Hopper noted in June 2014
“A Phoenix Too Frequent was first performed at the Southwick Drama festival in 1954. This was the second of many annual festivals held in Southwick and the first to be won by the Young Wick Players. The Young Wick won the festival again in 1956 with Great Catherine and the company decided that, as each of these festival winning plays had only been performed once, we should present both of them to a wider audience as our main production in December 1956, together with two curtain raisers, under the heading Four One Act Plays. However, for this production Ian Elliott was now away at college, so his part [in A Phoenix Too Frequent ] was taken by Patrick Johnson.”[/showhide]