The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
October 3, 4 & 5 1963
The River Line
by C. Morgan
Raymond Hopper – Philip Sturgess
John Perrett – Julian Wyburton
Clodagh O’Farrell – Marie Wyburton
Phyll Beard – Mrs. Muriven
Valerie Collard – Valerie Barton
Ralph Dawes – John Lang
Ross Workman – Dick Frewer
Peter Power – Pierre Chassaigne
Stage Manager – Chris Mitchell
Stage Manager – Maureen Hammond
ASM – Fay Sturt
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Wardrobe – Morfydd Bowen
Properties – Margaret Perrett
Effects – Sheelagh O’Farrell
Stage Staff – Ian Elliott
Stage Staff – George Porter
Stage Staff – Terry Mase
Stage Staff – Elizabeth Courtney-King
Front of House Manager – Seamus McGurk
Programme Announcement: The River Line
“The Company has recently appointed Mr. George Porter as Audience Officer with the job of looking after your interests and comfort and building up a closer contact between performers and you, the audience.
Mr. Porter will be glad to receive any ideas or criticisms you may have about plays, presentation, and the arrangements in the auditorium. Any of our front of house staff will contact him for you, alternatively you could write to him directly at: 1 Kingston Way, Southwick.”
Review #1: The River Line
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 11 1963 issue – page 8
Text Header: “Conscience searching after a killing”
FOR their entry in this year’s Sussex Full-Length Drama Festival, the Wick Theatre Company have chosen Charles Morgan’s The River Line, which they performed at Barn Theatre, Southwick, last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It was adjudicated by Mr. Richard Ainley on Friday.
The company is to be congratulated on its choice of play, for it is a well-written work and provides the cast with an opportunity of displaying their acting prowess in an absorbing situation. The story opens on the terrace of a Gloucestershire house where Julian Wyburton and his French wife, Marie, are entertaining guests. One of these is Philip Sturgess, who with Julian became acquainted with Marie in wartime France four years earlier while trying to escape from the Germans. In the second act the play is set in their attic hideout, where the escape party of British servicemen is waiting for the word to leave on the last leg of its journey home. The party includes a poet and scholar named Heron who, on being suspected as a traitor, is killed on Marie’s orders. The story then returns to the English house party. Heron is the whole topic of discussion, for in the intervening years his assailants have discovered that he was a true British officer. Each character searches his conscience in the light of the injustice committed, none more agonisingly that Philip, who has fallen in love with Heron’s sister Valerie.
In this excellent production by Barrie Bowen, the part of Heron was played with authority by Ralph Dawes. Raymond Hopper gave an equally effective performance as Philip; John Perrett acted with conviction as Julian; Clodagh O’Farrell gave a beautifully observed portrayal of Marie; and Valerie Collard gave a sensitive performance as Heron’s sister. There was strong support from Phyll Beard, Ross Workman and Peter Power.
Review #2: The River Line
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: October 11 1963 issue
Text Header: “EXCELLENT ACTING IN ‘RIVER LINE'”
“THE RIVER LINE” of the play by Charles Morgan presented by the Wick Theatre Company last weekend, was an escape route through occupied France operated by the French Resistance during the last war.
Of the four men awaiting their remove, all evidence points to one being a traitor. He is killed but is subsequently found to have been innocent. The effect of this tragic error on the lives of those who took part is the substance of the play. We are shown those things by a flash-back technique from the Gloucestershire of 1947 to France in 1943, returning to Gloucestershire for problems to be resolved. It is a difficult play for any company and particularly difficult for a predominantly youthful cast.
The company succeeded well in the play but were less to be commended in the flash-back scene where tension was lacking. The passing German patrol evoked silence, but not the uneasy, fear laden silence of men within touching distance of the enemy. Within second of the sound of the patrol fading away, they were talking in voices that could be heard in the next street. The build-up of evidence against the suspected traitor lacked the grimness that it should have commanded. With this exception, which must be laid at the door of producer Barrie Bowen rather than the players, the acting throughout was excellent.
The escape route was operated by Marie Chassaigne, who subsequently married escapee Cdr. Julian Wyburton. Clodagh O’Farrell’s playing of Marie was a little triumph. A sustained and credible French accent, a subtly changing character and where necessary, a sharp decisiveness was all there. Crd. Wyburton was played with good authority by John Perrett. The American on the escape line whose visit to England started off the story was well played by Raymond Hopper, but in the Gloucestershire scenes he had a certain restlessness which did not seem to belong to the character. The suspect, John Lang, was played by Ralph Dawes and the fourth escapee, Dick Frewer, by Ross Workman.
Valerie Collard, in her first size-able rôle as Valerie Barton – who falls rapidly in love with Phillip Sturgess – did reasonably well; Mrs. Muriven was played excellently by Phyll Beard of the Southwick Players; and Peter Power was Pierre Chassaigne, father of Marie.
Both sets were excellent, Sheelagh O’Farrell’s effects being very good indeed.