The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
April 7, 8 & 9, 1960.
by Kenneth Horne
Barrie Bowen – Mark Graham [Jill’s fiancé]
Ann Skemer – Phyllis Peabody [Julian’s younger daughter]
Brian Moulton – Julian Peabody
Ralph Dawes – Doctor
Clodagh O’Farrell – Jill Peabody [Julian’s elder daughter]
Ross Workman – Stephen Clench [Phyllis’ fiancé]
Betty Elliott – Violet Watkins [Julian’s secretary]
Stage Manager – Frances Davy
Set Design & Decor – Barrie Bowen
Set Design & Decor – Frances Moulton
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Sound Effects – John Chatfield
Wardrobe – Frances Moulton
Stage Staff – Margaret Perrett
Stage Staff – Judy Bowen
Stage Staff – Malcolm Guy
Stage Staff – Mary Chinchen
Front of House Manager – George Penney
Programme Note: Sleeping Partnership
The programme [priced 4d.] carried this note:
“This is our first adventure into the mysteries of theatrical production, and you probably wonder why there are two of us. The fact is, one of us was young enough – and rash enough – to want to produce, and the other, of maturer outlook, volunteered to form a partnership (not passive but active).
It might, now, seem logical that we should be compelled to stage this particular comedy by Kenneth Horn. Strangely enough this was not so. Our initial aim was to keep to the Young Wick tradition of presenting a successful comedy each Spring, but the route to our final choice was tortuous in the extreme, which we have been informed is always the case.
We sincerely believe we have assembled a cast which will do justice to this amusing play, and we hope you will find the our ‘Sleeping Partnership’ has paid most handsome dividends. ” R.D. & R.H.
Publicity #1: Sleeping Partnership
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: March 18 1960 issue – page 10
Text Header: ” Four ‘firsts’ ”
FIRST occasions are generally interesting and Young Wick Players hope that at least four ‘firsts’ will be notable in their spring presentation of Sleeping Partners [sic], a comedy by Kenneth Horne. It will be the first production by Ralph Dawes and Raymond Hopper. Mr Dawes is a former member of the Players, but, and such is his modesty, he has waited until now to venture into production to support Raymond Hopper, still under 21, but keen to gain experience in all branches of the theatre.
It will be a ‘first’ for the two leading players, Ross Workman who has worked assiduously to achieve his ambition to play a leading comedy rôle, and for Ann Skemer, who is also getting her first big part.
Raymond Hopper, by the way, is having a busy time just now because he is also to play a leading part in the ‘Under 21’ section entry for the West Sussex County Youth Drama Festival in April. The Players will be defending their laurels because they won this section last year. Ross Workman also has a small part in the festival play.
It is a pity that the cups won by the Young Wick Players at the Horsham One-Act British Drama League Festival last year cannot be defended this spring. With such a large production book the members feel that it is impossible to support everything, and this year they will concentrate on the Youth Drama Festival and main productions.
The Young Wick president, Mrs E Penney is also very busy. She is producing Woodingdean Players in The Heiress next week, and the Young Wick Players have been able to help their neighbours by loaning them props.
Publicity #2: Sleeping Partnership
Publication: Brighton and Hove Herald
Publication Data: April 1 1960 issue
Text Header: “BUSY TIME FOR YOUNG WICK PLAYERS”
THE Young Wick Players are having a busy time just now with two productions in rehearsal, both of which will be presented next week.
Their main spring production, Sleeping Partnership, by Kenneth Horne, is being put on at the Barn Theatre, Southwick next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be a memorable first for several of the company. The producers, Ralph Dawes and Raymond Hopper are making their first venture into production. Mr Dawes is a founder-member of the Players and is a very experienced actor, Raymond Hopper is still under 21 but very keen. For Clodagh O’Farrell and Ross Workman, who play the main rôles, these are their first leads after several years of good work in smaller parts. Ann Skemer, too, will be playing her first big part on the stage. Betty Elliott who has had many comedy successes in the past will again be playing an excellent “Dora Bryan” type rôle with strong support from Brian Moulton, Barrie Bowen and Ralph Dawes.
The other production in progress is an excerpt from The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, which is being presented in the West Sussex County Youth Drama Festival at Horsham next Saturday. This play is a challenge for an under-21 group, but is proving very rewarding in experience to all concerned.
The clash of dates has made problems of casting and staging, but the Players have managed to keep two separate groups going, mainly through an all-out effort by Raymond Hopper who is largely concerned in both productions. The other parts in the under 21 production are taken by Sheelagh O’Farrell, Patricia Holloway and Roy Perrett, who will be make his first stage appearance.
The group is hoping again to be chosen to represent West Sussex in the County Youth Drama Festival on Friday, April 29.
Review #1: Sleeping Partnership
Publication Data: April 9 1960 issue
Text Header: “Play Has a Laugh in Almost Every Other Line”
THE enterprising Young Wick Players bring out every ounce of comedy in Kenneth Horne’s Sleeping Partnership at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, this week-end. They were in good form at Thursday’s opening night, and the last performance this evening should be even greater fun.
This is a play with a laugh at least in every other line and the cast manage to be funny right to the end – in fact, they get better as they go along.
Ralph Dawes, who himself plays the doctor, as much in need treatment as his patients, and Raymond Hopper, are the co-producers. “This is our first adventure into the mysteries of theatrical production,” they state in the programme, but no one would never have guessed it.
Set in a cliff-top bungalow, the play centres on the rather ruffled love life of Julian Peabody and his daughters, Phyllis and Jill. The girls are engaged to the ‘wrong’ fiancés, but father has problems of his own in the shape of Violet Watkins, his secretary, whose velvet claws are well and truly dug in and whose determination to marry her boss is unbridled.
The fun really starts when Jill and her sister’s fiancé, Stephen, discover that they are having the same dreams and realise that they are the reincarnated figures of a famous local legend. It all works out for the best in the long run, anyway.
For sheer comedy, the acting honours go to Betty Elliott [Violet] and Ross Workman [Stephen], both brining a wealth of colour to their rôles. The sisters are divertingly played by Clodagh O’Farrell [Jill] and Ann Skemer [Phyllis] – the latter in her first major rôle – and there is a grand contribution by Brian Moulton as their father, Barrie Bowen also does extremely well as Mark, Jill’s fiancé.
Review #2: Sleeping Partnership
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: April 15 1960 issue – page 5
Text Header: “This was comedy at its very best”
THE reception of Kenneth Horne’s comedy Sleeping Partnership, staged by the Young Wick Players at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week began with a titter, developed into chuckles, marched on to gusts of laughter and finally to sustained roars.
The reason was not merely that the work was funny but that the Young Wick Players were word perfect, did not drop a single cue and had polished their timing to a high standard.
In a comedy it is the instantaneous picking up of a cue that can make or mar a laugh line. The Young Wick team picked up each cue and punched it home hard, and were rewarded with laughs until the final curtain fell, leaving me, at least, sorry that it could not go on a little longer.
The plot was based on the dream of two young people, both engaged to two other people. Their dream was ‘an imperfection in time and space’ which, in a succession of dreams, they relived a former life they lived together a thousand years before. Their dreams were startlingly parallel with events and circumstances of their present-day lives, and the situation became both exquisitely funny and broadly farcical.
Anne Skemer, as Phyllis Peabody, the rather fey, shy creature who loved another, her sister’s fiancé, ably filled her rôle. Her part was not designed to add much to the comedy situations: indeed her position of unrequited love made her a little tragic, but she held her own in the midst of the storm of farce.
The main comedy theme was carried on the capable shoulders of the rest of the cast. Brian Moulton as the businessman Julian Peabody, infatuated with the pulchritudinous nitwit Violet Watkins plated by Betty Elliott, was excellent indeed. Betty Elliott reached heights of comedy with her portrayal of the shrewdly simple – or was she simply shrewd? – secretary out to marry the boss after having seduced him and holding over his head an indiscreet letter. She acted right into the heart of the part.
Jill Peabody, played by Clodagh O’Farrell and Stephen Clench, played by Ross Workman, thrown together, willy-nilly, by a shared and rather erotic dream, gained every ounce of fun from their part, and Ralph Dawes, who made two brief appearances as a Doctor, was also very good.
Did not fail
Barrie Bowen, handsome and tall, was perhaps a little too strained but he did not fail.
The setting was simple and well designed and the production, a joint effort by Ralph Dawes and Raymond Hopper, was without fault. It had a brisk, professional air about it that lifted it out of the rut of normal amateur stage productions.
The off-stage sound effects were as realistic as tape recordings could make them, entrances and exits were executed with a professional finesse and the whole show, from beginning to end, went with a fine swing.
Faults? They are so few and so trivial that they hardly worth mentioning. Ann Skemer’s lack of vocal volume, might have made her hard to hear at the back of the theatre, but her acting spoke volumes.
Hard to equal
Brian Moulton’s rather heavy-handed affection rang slightly out of tune now and then, but his performance in the comedy scenes more than cancelled out that small fault.
Altogether it was production the Young Wick will have to work hard to equal.
Review #3: Sleeping Partnership
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: April issue – page
Text Header: “Cast was an advantage”
A play of dreams which almost topples into the sphere of farce, Sleeping Partnership, by Kenneth Horne, was well appreciated by full houses when it was presented by the Young Wick Players at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last weekend. The play was well cast and was the first production venture of Ralph Dawes and Raymond Hopper. They made quite a good job of the play and had the advantage of a well chosen cast. They maintained the fast tempo so necessary to this type of play, avoided the customary pitfalls and had the ability to drill the artists into learning their lines, an apparently rare accomplishment among producers. It is probable, however, that greatest production experience would have built up the characterisations rather more definitely.
Julian Peabody, a business man on holiday with his daughters and their respective fiancés, was quite skilfully played by Brian Moulton. It was unfortunate, however, that he so consistently pitched his voice in the upper register: it tended to be very irritating. Daughter Jill, and her sister’s fiancé, Stephen Clench, are the two who bump their heads together and start to dream the same dream. They were played most successfully by Clodagh O’Farrell and Ross Workman. The somewhat smaller parts of Jill’s fiancé, Mark Graham, and her younger sister, Phyllis, were excellently filled by Barrie Bowen and Ann Skemer.
The greatest credit must go to Betty Elliott for her delightfully Dora Bryan-esque playing of Violet Watkins, secretary and prospective wife of Julian. The lack of originality was more than compensated by brilliance of performance. The small part of the doctor was quite adequately filled by Ralph Dawes, but why with a scale rule in the breast pocket?
The set design by Barrie Bowen and Frances Moulton was quite delightful, and John Chatfield’s sound effects very good indeed.