The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
November 6, 7 & 8 1958
by Agatha Christie
Betty Carpenter – Henrietta Angkatell
Patrick Johnson – Sir Henry Angkatell, K.C.B.
Phyll Beard – Lady Angkatell
Patricia Menheneott – Midge Harvey
Peter O’Connor – Gudgeon
Barrie Bowen – Edward Angkatell
Mary Gedge – Doris
Frances Moulton – Gerda Cristow
Adrian Hedges – John Cristow, M.D., F.R.C.P.
Jean Porter – Veronica Craye
Ralph Dawes – Inspector Colquhoun C.I.D
Ross Workman – Detective Sergeant Penny
Stage Manager – Clive Townsend
ASM – Frances Davy
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Effects – John Chatfield
Wardrobe – Bess Blagden
Properties – Clodagh O’Farrell
Properties – Sheelagh O’Farrell
Properties – Margaret Colegrave
Front of House Manager – Clive Townsend
Review #1: The Hollow
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: November 7 1958 issue – page 24
Text Header: “IDEAL CHOICE FOR YOUNG WICKS”
TONIGHT, visitors to the Young Wicks’ production of The Hollow, at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, will be kept on the edge of their seats with suspense as they watch the crisp acting and taut production of this ‘who-dunit’ murder mystery. An ideal choice for the Young Wicks, most of whom are young and comparatively inexperienced, it is well produced by George Baker in a straightforward way, as befits a typical Agatha Christie puzzle play.
The first act opens with a country house party at the Angatell home. Sir Henry, a retired civil servant is reasonably well played by Patrick Johnson, but the part gives him little scope to show any real talent. His eccentric and forceful wife Lucy is brilliantly played by Phyllis Beard, on loan from Southwick Players, and the sculptress daughter, Henrietta, is played by Betty Carpenter. Barrie Bowen, as their son Edward, gives occasional flashes of brilliance, but in the main his inexperience shows.
Although set in 1950, the dialogue is pure 1930s, Peter O’Connor as Gudgeon the butler, even saying “dinner is served”. He does it extremely well. Mary Gedge as Doris the housemaid is also good, but the star is Patricia Menheneott, as Midge Harvey; her tears are real and her love scenes warm, tender and most moving.
Even before Dr John Cristow, well acted by Adrian Hedges, is murdered, we can see Agatha’s ingenious mind at work on the sub-plots, establishing a different murder motive for each of the 10 suspects. The doctor’s wife, convincingly played by Frances Moulton, finds that he has made love to Veronica Craye, played by Jean Porter.
After the doctor’s murder, the play moves at a cracking pace, and excitement is tense as Inspector Colquhoun, extremely well acted by Ralph Dawes uncovers fact after fact. He is not helped much by his sergeant, played by Ross Workman.
Those behind the scenes are: Clive Townsend, stage manager, assisted by Frances Davy, Frank Hurrell, lights, John Chatfield, effects, and Bess Blagden, wardrobe.
Review #2: The Hollow
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: “A THRILLER STARTS THE WINTER”
THE Young Wick began their Winter season well with a production of The Hollow by Agatha Christie at the Barn Theatre, Southwick. The Hollow is the residence of Sir Henry and Lady Angkatell. Gathered there is a house party which includes John Cristow MD and his wife Gerda. Bored by his too devoted and none too intelligent spouse, the doctor has sought consolation elsewhere – more than once – and his present mistress is also one of the party. Things begin to happen when one of his old loves, a glamorous film star, arrives on the scene determined to begin again where she left off. The doctor is shot dead by ‘persons unknown’: there are the usual crop of suspects and confession and just retribution follow in due course.
The acting in general was good Phyll Beard’s delightful Lady Angkatell almost stole the show; Patrick Johnson gave a very nice authentic performance in the unspectacular part of Sir Henry, and Patricia Menheneott in her first big part [Midge Harvey] certainly justified the casting committee’s choice. Frances Moulton, almost too strong for the ineffectual Gerda was at her best in the final scene. There were also good performances from Adrian Hedges, Betty Carpenter and Jean Porter. Barrie Bowen proved a promising newcomer.
The company had the benefit of George Baker’s valuable experience as producer. He and Phyll Beard were kindly ‘lent’ by the Southwick Players for the production, a piece of practical encouragement from an older and more experienced company greatly to be commended.
Review #3: The Hollow
Publication Data: November 8 1958
Text Header: “The Young Wick Players enhance Reputation”
The Young Wick Players have again provided undisputed evidence of the talent in their ranks. Their production of Agatha Christie’s The Hollow at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, this week, has still further enhanced their reputation. There are some first- rate character studies in this enthralling who-dun-it, which deftly combines thrills and murder with a generous measure of comedy, unlikely bedfellow that it is. The play keeps one guessing almost up to the last, and will have a final performance this evening.
Some share in the success goes to the Southwick Players, for it is produced by George Baker, and includes in the cast Phyll Beard, one of their shining lights. Both are ‘on loan’ for the occasion. Phyll Beard, as Lady Angkatell, fuddle-brained wife of Sir Henry Angkatell [ably played by Patrick Johnson] is responsible for most of the light relief and revels in a rôle which gives full scope for her talents. There is a strongly dramatic contribution from Betty carpenter as Henrietta, and Patricia Menheneott, in her first big part, more than justifies her selection.
Adrian hedges and Frances Moulton, cast a domineering Dr. Cristow and his fearful, down trodden wife, add appreciably to the mounting tension, and there is an admirable study by Jean Porter as exhibitionist film star Veronica Craye wishing to resume her alliance with the doctor. Newcomer Barrie Bowen creates a most favourable impression as young Edward Angkatell, and there is a brief gem of comedy from Mary Gedge as Doris, the maid. Peter O’Connor impresses as the ideal manservant, Gudgeon, and the long arm of the law is affectively played by Ralph Dawes as inspector Colquhoun, and Ross Workman as Detective Sergeant Penny.
Comment #1: The Hollow
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Author: George Porter
Data: November 14 1958 issue – letters to editor
Header: “A matter of experience”
“IN your report of November 7, 1958, of the Young Wick Players’ production of Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, your reporter mentioned the ‘comparative inexperience’ of the cast.
Without wishing to complain of a fair report and the good service you do for Amateur Drama as a whole, I feel a word ought to be said about the ‘inexperience’ of the Young Wick. They may be inexperienced in living in comparison with, say, the members of Southwick Players and they lack a certain sense of responsibility, too, [as Mr George Baker, their last producer, might agree] but in experience of acting and stagecraft some of them are comparative veterans.
Newcomers are joining the Group all the time, but the majority of members have made amateur drama their main hobby for years and have learned the tricks of the trade the hard way. From a teenage group the Young Wick has steadily become a mature society of young actors and actresses with a serious intention of giving the public good drama. Their standards are as high as the best in amateur drama around this area and the age range, now, extends into the thirties.
At the Horsham Festival earlier this year, for instance, they gave a performance of Synge’s The Shadow of the Glen that would not have shamed in any company and productions like The Importance of Being Earnest and The Happiest Days of Your Life, both put on last year, needed considerable experience to achieve the standard they did.
Drama Societies with a wide age range are always getting hold of new members to supplement the experienced hard core. There is little difference, as I see it, between the younger and the older new comers to the stage except that the odds are on the younger one learning quicker.
It is a good thing for the Young Wick and the Southwick Players to co-operate closely, and I do not think the senior society would wish it to be thought that such co-operation was carried out in a spirit of condescension.
All degrees of experience are relative to something, not always age, but from one comparatively young I hope you will forgive this making a mountain out of a molehill. ”
Comment #2: The Hollow
Author: Barrie Bowen reflecting upon his debut
Comment: Header Some time later in January 2006, when The Hollow came to Brighton’s Theatre Royal
” I have to say of all my dubious endeavours with Wick, my debut in The Hollow is the least I would choose to be reminded of. There were several calamities as I remember and one is minded to wonder how on earth Wick ever got from there to where it is to-day. I guess what it then lacked in polish and technique it made made up for in brazen enthusiasm. It had to be so to overcome the resignation of the Director about 2 weeks prior to opening night, but that’s another story.
That 1958 production was held in The Barn of four previous incarnations – its original theatre state. How Clive managed to be at both ends of that theatre at the same time beggars belief! I assume exceptional physical fitness as well as that enthusiasm.
Pat Johnson and Jean Porter had been my mentors encouraging me [a then friend of Young Wick with no acting intentions whatsoever] to try my hand. Pat was also in that production. Had it not been for him skilfully covering a disaster in a scene he and I were sharing. I doubt I would have ever progresses beyond the ‘promising’ debut. No training of how to ad lib had been imparted during the said mentoring and it was fortunate for the performance in particular that the disaster we encountered occurred while Pat was holding the dialogue. Whether it was fortunate for the company in the long run that I got through that experience with sufficient confidence and interest to remain a member is another matter altogether that I could not possibly comment on.
Somewhat diffident and reluctant, and as a naive teenager at the game, I had yet to realise the desperation ‘amdram’ experienced for male actors in those days. A case of one’s ego blinding one to the general need of others for anything in trousers – regardless! When I now recall my part and look at old photos I realise just how deep that desperation must have been. In another sense I realise but for the enthusiasm and perseverance of earlier members that somehow earned audience patronage all through there would be no inheritance for those who more recently and to-day have taken Wick and The Barn to previously undreamed goals. It is gratifying to see that all our earlier earnest fumbling has led to a legacy that is in such fine and well maintained form to-day that only the infusion of present members skills, combined with those who have actively stayed the course, could have achieved.
One has to acknowledge the ability and enthusiasm of present active members must scale us ‘olduns’ by several orders of magnitude to be operating an even more successful company in the face of the proliferating distractions of multi media entertainment now present that we did not have to contend with all those years ago. ”