The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
October 7, 8, 9 & 10, 2015.
by Patrick Hamilton
Matthew Arnold – Kenneth Raglan
Dan Dryer – Rupert Cadell
Derek Fraser – Sir Johnstone Kentley
Sarah Frost – Leila Arden
Natalie Notley – Mrs Debenham
Simon Robinson – Charles Granillo
Guy Steddon – Wyndham Brandon
Peter Thompson – Sabot
Directorial Assistants – Dan Dryer
Directorial Assistants – John Garland
Stage Manager – Julian Batstone
Lighting Design – Martin Oakley
Sound Design – Bob Ryder
Technical Operation – Martin Oakley
Technical Operation – Kieran Pollard
Wardrobe – Maggi Pierce
Wardrobe – Cherry Fraser
Properties – Anita Shipton
Properties – Di Tidzer
Set Construction & Painting – Nigel Goldfinch
Set Construction & Painting – Carl Gray
Set Construction & Painting – Dave Comber
Set Construction & Painting – Dave Collis
Set Construction & Painting – Sue Chaplin
Set Construction & Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Construction & Painting – Margaret Davy
Set Construction & Painting – Gary Walker
Poster & Programme Design – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Maggi Pierce
Publicity – Peter Joyce
Publicity – Judith Berrill
Foyer Photography – Ray Hopper
Front of House – Betty Dawes
Programme Note #1: Rope
GS wrote: ” Welcome to tonight’s performance of Patrick Hamilton’s seminal thriller Rope.
Patrick Hamilton was better established as a novelist than a playwright, in fact he only wrote four plays overall, a shame given that two of them – Rope and Gaslight – are rightly regarded as classics. Hamilton’s success is attributable to the fact that he would get a good idea and then develop it simply and naturally.
The idea of Rope first came to Hamilton when the details of the notorious Leopold and Loeb murder in America came to light. Rope uses this as more than mere inspiration but actively explores the central idea of the fiercely intelligent men killing another person for supposedly intellectual reasons rather than any real motive.
The central conceit of Rope is so simple and brilliant that it is still ‘borrowed’ liberally. There has been a murder and the body has been put into a chest, the audience has been informed of this in the opening moments of the play and given the killers’ identities. They play then unfolds in real-time as we progress through a macabre social gathering, not knowing if and when the chest’s contents will be discovered. Things may well get very tense!
It’s a very modern style of theatrical storytelling which makes its age even more startling – the play was first performed in 1929 – and it’s a shame the play is less lauded today than the film version made by Alfred Hitchcock nearly 20 years later. This play is a simple one but, as such, it represents theatre at its purest.
When I originally began working on staging this play, the last thing I was thinking of was being a member of the cast. I was more that happy taking the director’s chair and was genuinely apprehensive of having to take on a rôle in the play as well as direct. When it became clear that this was the only course of action available that would see the play staged, it was apparent that I’d need a lot of support to be able to move forward. I am delighted to have been given the support by John Garland and Dan Dryer who have been extra ideas, eyes and ears – they have made this a lot less stressful for me! I must also thank the cast and the crew who have been obliging and helpful at every turn and very understanding if I seemed distracted! My sincere gratitude to all who have worked on the play and given their time and help.
Now, it’s time to sit back and get ready to get uncomfortable ”
Publicity #1: Rope
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 1 2015 issue – page 26
Correspondent: Emily Turner
Text Header: “Southwick play promises intrigue”
AN AMATEUR theatre company will be bringing a nail-biting tale of suspenseto Southwick’s Barn Theatre this October.
Wick Theatre Company will be performing Rope by Patrick Hamilton, which dates back to 1929 and covers a single evening in a London house as a grotesque and macabre game is played out. The play was famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock for the Jimmy Stewart film of the same name. Patrick Hamilton considered it his finest play, and it is thought to be inspired by a true life case in America in 1924 in which two teenagers from prominent Chicago families committed a similar, apparently motiveless murder on a 14 year old boy.
The play unfolds in real time, and is an unsettling drama with some wonderfully comedic moments. The audience who [know] who has been killed and who did it – but will the culprits be caught?
Wick’s production of Rope will be this year’s entry in the Brighton and Hove Council Drama Awards and promises to be an unmissable treat. Director Guy Steddon, a previous award winner, performs the riveting and repellent rôle of Brandon, and has assembled an impressive cast.
Performances run from Wednesday, October 7, to Saturday, October 10. Curtain goes up at 5.45pm and tickets cost £11.
Tickets can be purchased from the Box Office on 01273 597094 or through Wick’s website at www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Publicity #2: Rope
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 8 2015 issue – page 6
Text Header: “Nail-biting thriller is Wick’s entry to arts awards”
A THRILLER with a difference opened at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, yesterday. There has been a murder and the audience knows who has been killed, who did it and, most importantly, precisely where the body is. The nail-biting drama comes not from solving the case but from finding out whether the crime and the culprits will ever be discovered.
Judith Berrill, from Wick Theatre Company, said: “Rope is a masterpiece of suspense that dates back to 1929but remains an almost unbearably tense and potent thriller. The play unfolds in real time, covering a single evening in a London house as a grotesque and macabre game is played out for the amusement of the killers.”
There are some wonderfully comedic moments, too, and Patrick Hamilton considered it his finest play. It is thought to have been inspired by a true life case in America in 1924. The play was famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock for the Jimmy Stewart film of the same name, which remains on he American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest films of all time.
The production is Wick’s entry in this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards. Director Guy Steddon, a previous award winner, performs the rôle of Brandon with reptilian charm and he has assembled a great cast to appear alongside hom, and has assembled an impressive cast.
Performances of Rope run until Saturday at the Barn Theatre, Southwick Street, Southwick, at 7.45pm.
Tickets £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or at www.wicktheatre.co.uk
Review #1: Rope
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 15 2015 issue – page 10
Reviewer: Elaine Hammond
Text Header: “Sinister thriller is dark in more ways than one”
WICK Theatre Company’s drama awards entry is dark – and in more ways than one.
The Patrick Hamilton play, Rope, was judged by actress Kate Dyson last week for this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards. It is a rather gruesome affair, with a calculated murder carried out simply for the sake of doing so, though there are some nice comedic moments, too.
It did not help that a decent percentage of the play took place actually i the dark. As dictated by the script, there are no lights on, but with light from only the fire and the window, it made it quite difficult to take in the early dialogue which sets the background to the story.
Kate picked up on this, too, in her adjudication and said it was a brave decision to go against the detailed directions given in the script. She pointed out that it would have worked if the lighting had been arranged to create silhouettes so the audience can follow what is happening. On another lighting note, it rankled with me that the lead character had to literally open the door and lean out of the room to turn on the light. It just didn’t seem right. Again, Kate mentioned that and was told by director Guy Steddon, who also played the lead rôle of Wyndham Brandon, that it was because they were canvas flats. She said a switch could have been painted on, adding: “It does need to be in the room.”
But these are small details and they take away from the very fine performances from the cast of eight. Guy was calm and calculated, menacing at times. Simon Robinson, playing fellow murderer Charles Granillo, did well playing in his shadow as the more nervous of the pair. Sarah Frost as Leila and Matthew Arnold as Kenneth made a great pairing and provided some lovely funny moments. Kate compliment Sarah on her accent and said Matthew had just the right level of foppishness. Derek Fraser was excellent as Sir John Kentley and gave a very moving, believable performance in the scene where he learns his son has gone missing.
Poor Dan Dryer, playing the wounded Rupert Cadell, was astonished to hear from Kate that he was holding his walking stick in the wrong hand, especially as he had a ‘limp coach’. She failed to mention his stunning performance as Rupert Cadell, all moody and petulant. The concluding scene was just superb.
Review #2: Rope
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: October 8 2015
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
Patrick Hamilton’s 1929 play was inspired by a true-life murder in America where two students killed another, without motive except for the thrill of carrying out the perfect crime. Rope, set in London, has Oxford students Brandon and Granillo as the perpetrators for whom it part adventure and part intellectual exercise. Their arrogance in establishing an alibi is to hold a party in their home. All the while the body is in a large chest on which supper is served. The writing is dated and its verbosity stifles any build up of suspense. It calls for the opening scene to be played total darkness – for far too long.
The play may disappoint but the acting throughout does not.
Guy Steddon and Simon Robinson give contrasting performances – one chilling, controlled and quoting Nietzsche to justify his actions, the other a nervous wreck. Occasionally Steddon, who also directs, needs a little more subtlety. Dan Dryer, as Cadell, has a fine touch with the character’s cynicism whilst Matthew Arnold and Sarah Frost entertain as two bright young things despite Ms Frost being saddled with some ghastly dialogue.
There is beautifully understated acting from Derek Fraser who combines old world dignity with mild bewilderment.
Review #3: Rope
Publication: URBANMASH – A mash up of content for the modern, urban gentleman.
Publication Data: November 8, 2015
Reviewer: Lincoln Fenner
Two men enter a darkened stage. They are Charles Granillo (SIMON ROBINSON) and Brandon (GUY STEDDON). They have committed what they call “murder for intellectual reasons”. Before me is about to unfold the gripping new rendition of the stage play ROPE, being performed at The Wick Theatre.
You may know this title more by the movie of the same name, made famous by ALFRED HITCHCOCK which starred JAMES STEWART. I actually referenced the film in my recent review of BIRDMAN as a work in which the viewer remains engaged using the technique of mise en scene. This theatre production is no exception as it finds its own style of keeping you ‘captive’.
From the outset the tension is high. The internal moral conflict present in ROBINSON’s Granillo is in direct contrast with the über-arrogance of STEDDON’s Brandon. As these two Oxbridge intellectuals battle out their differences over their crime, the exposition unfolds in front of us as if we were a fly on the wall of their Mayfair apartment, on a sinister, stormy evening.
The suspense only increases from here as their unwitting dinner guests are entertained from a buffet served on a wooden chest containing the deceased. Brandon has actually invited the challenge to survive the evening with the evidence under the guests’ noses much to Granillo’s increasing dissatisfaction. Enter the dinner guests one by one.
Kenneth Raglan (MATT ARNOLD), Leila Arden (SARAH FROST), Sir Johnstone Kentley (DEREK FRASER) and Mrs Debenham (NATALIE NOTLEY) all make memorable entrances.
Then comes one outstanding character, who is by far their intellectual equal. He is Rupert played by DAN DRYER, in the role made famous by JAMES STEWART.
Dryer’s intuition now takes centre stage as we watch in wonder as to how Rope will unfold. Brilliant acting bounces around the room with ROBINSON, STEDDON and DRYER all giving excellent performances as the intrigue and tension builds.
GUY STEDDON who also directed the play, has stylised it with a clever use of natural lighting. At times the stage is only barely lit. At times light comes just from a single period lampshade. A bold move, which in my book only adds to the suspense using the texture of light and dark as an extra character in the room.
The entirety of ROPE unfolds in a solitary room. However, the play manages to have a three dimensional feel that stretches your imagination to the activities happening in the surrounding rooms, as players come and go. To this extent the direction of the play by STEDDON gives remarkably good use of the set and space.
To the very last line I was left mesmerised and held in suspense. Throughout the entire performance I found this rendition of ROPE to be a thoroughly entertaining and well crafted piece of theatre.
Rope was presented by The Wick Theatre Company at The Barn Theatre, Southwick.
For upcoming performances see their website at: www.wicktheatre.co.uk