The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
Month 1 & 2, 1951.
by Terry Johnson
Guy Steddon – Benjamin
Tony Brownings – Dad
Natalie Colgate – Mom
Mark Best – Mr. Robinson
Gill Etter – Mrs. Robinson
Morgan Jones – Elaine
Rols Ham-Riche – Hotel Clerk, Barman, Psychiatrist, Priest
Helen Brewster – Stripper
Tom Harris – Drunk Wedding Guest
Tom Pearson – Drunk Wedding Guest
Stage Manager – Richard Bulling
Stage Manager – David Comber
Stage Manager – Tom Harris
Stage Manager – Tom Pearson
Deputy Stage Manager – Zara Spanton
ASM – Olive Smith
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound Technician – Phillip Oliver
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Wardrobe – Cherry Briggs
Wardrobe – Maggie Pierce
Set Design – Judith Berrill
Set Design – Bob Ryder
Workshop Team – David Comber
Workshop Team – Dave Collis
Workshop Team – Richard Bulling
Workshop Team – Sue Chaplin
Workshop Team – Sheila Neesham
Workshop Team – Margaret Davy
Painter – Margaret Davy
Painter – Sue Chaplin
Painter – Sheila Neesham
Painter – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Publicity – Anna Barden
Poster Design – Judith Berrill
Production Photos – Lucien Bouchy
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Box Office – The Barn Team Box Office Team
Programme Note #1: The Graduate
“The Graduate was the first novel written by Charles Webb, published in 1963, not long after his own college graduation. It was made into a hugely successful film in 1967, winning a host of Oscar nominations. The style of the novel is unusual, telling the reader nothing about what the characters think or feel, only what they say and do. It’s perfect material for a film screenplay – and in fact the film is remarkably close to the book. As well as for its great screen performances, the film is widely remembered for the witty direction of Mike Nichols, which won him an Oscar, and the atmospheric Simon and Garfunkel music used in the soundtrack.
Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation was first performed in 2000. It too draws closely on the novel, though with an eye to the different challenges of live stage performance compared with film. The play has enjoyed great success in the West End and on Broadway. It has only very recently become available for wider performance and we are delighted to be staging one of the first productions outside the professional theatre.”
Review #1: The Graduate
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Sam Woodman
Text Header: Unknown
Wick’s season-opener was a resounding success, and has set the bar high for the rest of the year. Wick Theatre Company’s diamond anniversary season got off to a steamy start at Southwick’s Barn Theatre, last week. The company presented one of the first non-professional products of The Graduate, adapted for the stage from the Oscar-winning film by Terry Johnson.
The story centres around young Benjamin Braddock, played by Guy Steddon, spaced out by his success after graduating in a blaze of glory. Among the invited guests at a celebration hosted by his parents [Tony Brownings and Natalie Colgate] was the seductive Mrs. Robinson played by Gill Etter, who Benjamin fell for – before falling for her pretty daughter, Elaine [Morgan Jones].
But where to start?
Directed by Bob Ryder, the play was clever, poignant, laugh-out-loud funny and very, very good indeed – certainly one of Wick’s best productions in the last couple of years. The minimalist set, often comprising just a couple of items of furniture, and blinds as back-drop, was expertly employed, with Mike Medway’s lighting helping to transform the stage from bedroom, to hotel lobby, to hotel room, to church vestry. Accents can so often pose a stumbling block, yet not here – Guy Steddon’s was solid throughout and Gill Etter’s faultless.
Perhaps not a show for the faint-hearted or easily offended, the more risqué moments were well handled and managed to be rude where the situation demanded, while managing to shock just enough without being down-right coarse – a clever balancing. The two lead players were well supported by the other cast members, and the performance went off without a hitch.
An hilarious script played out by a talented cast was a recipe for success and The Graduate certainly didn’t disappoint.
Review #2: The Graduate
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Text Header: Unknown
Benjamin Braddock is 21, and is disillusioned with life and his family. At a party to celebrate his recent graduation he is seduced by the middle-aged and alcoholic Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s best friend. Their passionate affair continues throughout the summer. When Elaine, the Robinson’s daughter, returns from college Ben is forced to date her and despite his best attempts to the contrary falls in love with her. This does not go down well with the mother and feathers fly. Ben stalks, woos and even kidnaps her at her wedding thus helping Elaine to break the bonds of parental control that have stopped her being her own person and making decisions.
As one has come to expect from Bob Ryder his direction was solid and well thought out. He was well supported by the technical team who provided a simple but effective all-purpose set that was sympathetically lit. The production moved at a good pace, with Bob Ryder managing to elicit several finely acted performances and two outstanding ones. As Ben’s parents Natalie Colgate and Tony Brownings played well together with some good comic touches with Colgate excelling in the scene in the psychiatrist’s office. Browning’s performance was probably the best I have seen from him. Mark Best’s contribution as Mr. Robinson was both funny and touching particularly on discovering the adulterous treachery of Ben with is wife. Morgan Jones played Elaine, capturing well the fragility and simplicity of the character. Rols Ham-Riche had a quartet of small parts that were well played with each being given its own character. But it is with the two main rôles that the success of the play falls on.
As the predatory, controlling Mrs. Robinson, Gill Etter’s interpretation was spot on. In the seduction scene she was cold and distant – the character takes but does not give. Etter extracted fully the humour of the part as well as the bitterness and anger as the relationship with Ben turns sour. Her handling of the added scene with Elaine when they are both drunk was handled with sensitivity and did not go over the top. Guy Steddon continues to astound with his performances and as Ben he gave a masterly one. His interpretation was his own and owed nothing to the film. Watching him progress form confused, gauche and naive Ben – with morose and laconic mood swings via manic hysteria – to a form of maturity, as he becomes decisive and determined was a treasure chest of many comic gems.
Adapting this ’60s movie classic for the stage, Terry Johnson has returned to the original novel for extra scenes.
Whilst most worked the final scene is a bit of a damp squib compared to the film’s ending where the runaway couple are looking out of the back of the bus and wondering what the hell they were letting themselves in for. Sitting on a bed eating out of a box of Cherios lacked the dramatic impact.
Review #3: The Graduate
Publication: Words & Music
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Gordon Bull
Text Header: A brilliant production
Wick Theatre Company excelled itself with its brilliant production of The Graduate, adapted for the stage by Terry Johnson. The film was a great success but I would recommend anybody to see the version for the theatre. It’s even more witty.
In particular tribute must be paid to the lighting design by Mike Medway who produced an excellent scheme for handling the nude scene by using deep purple and silhouette so that Mrs. Robinson [Gill Etter] may or may not have been all she appeared, in order to seduce Ben – excellently cast and played by Guy Steddon. I liked his tête-à-têtes with girlfriend Elaine [Morgan Jones] as he tries to retain her affection after the brief fallen encounter with her mother; and his confession to her father [Mark Best]. The young couple made good sense of the interplay.
Instead of the film music, which used Scarborough Fair, incidental music was provided which nicely heightened the situation. For a few moments at the wedding, the artful stripper [Helen Brewster] played a secondary rôle a guest, while Elaine is almost persuaded to take the man chosen by her parents. But as in all good stories, Ben gets his girl in the end as they rush off together.
The whole play was well devised by Bob Ryder and small parts were confidently taken by Rols Ham-Riche.
Review #4: The Graduate
Publication: Remote Goat – online
Publication Data: April 10 2008
Reviewer: Jill Lawrie
Text Header: “Brilliant, witty, seductive and challenging”
An excellent adaptation by Terry Johnson of the 1960’s film The Graduate was put on by the much acclaimed Wick Theatre Company at the Barn Southwick. This company was formed in 1948 and they put on four major productions a year ranging from Shakespeare ~ musicals etc. and cater for most peoples tastes.
The Barn Theatre is an excellent venue with impressive facilities and is much used by the local community. An attractive historic flint building completely refurbished bringing it up to a very high standard with seating for 130.
The action starts with a very minimalist set relying entirely on lighting effects and basically one piece of furniture per scene. This simplistic but effective backdrop thus allowed us to focus on the complexity of the characters.
Ben has graduated to much acclaim but seems unable to handle the excitement and celebrations of his proud parents aptly portrayed by Tony Brownings and Natalie Colgate. A friend of his parents Mrs Robinson, after rather too much to drink, stumbles into his room with a view to seducing the young lad. She is bravely portrayed by Gill Etter, in her first appearance with this company, baring all to some very subtle lighting effects. This leads to some very entertaining situations between the two of them, extremely well portrayed on the stage.
Eventually the ‘summer of fun’ is over and Ben exceptionally well played by Guy Steddon, is attracted to Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine, ably played by Morgan Jones, with many complications to follow.
I can highly recommend seeing this play, the actors were first class and in particular Guy for his whole spectrum of emotions from believable naivety, progressing to maturity, experience, vulnerability, anger and frustration. His whole manner and body language epitomised the ‘all American boy’ to perfection. Congratulations too for Gill with her range of emotions, brave nudity and drunkenness in what was an extremely challenging role.
All in all this worked very well, with seamless scene changes, good interactive relationships between the cast ~ a credit to the Director Bob Ryder.
Try and catch it before the end of the run on Saturday.