The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
February 10, 11 & 12 1966
by David Turner
Jean Porter – Hilda Midway
Ian Elliott– Fred Midway
Terry Phillipe – Tom Midway
Jean Bailey – Eileen Midway
Barrie Bowen – Robert Freeman
Fay Sturt – Avril Hadfield
David Goodger – Nigel Hadfield
Betty Dawes – Garnet Hadfield
Ralph Dawes – Arnold Makepiece
Stage Manager – Clodagh O’Farrell
Production Manager – Dorothy Burnside
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Properties – Margaret Perrett
Sound Effects – Terry Mase
Scenery – Barrie Bowen
Wardrobe Mistress – Morfydd Bowen
Audience Officer – George Porter
Box Office [Southwick 2542] – Mary Chinchen
Programme Note: Semi-Detached
GB wrote: “This is a farce about the modern status race and is in the Classical tradition of say, Jonson or Molier. But don’t be put off by that – you are meant to laugh [as their audiences did at their plays] and we hope you will at this one.
The names of the characters indicate their respective types or present ‘status’ – Fred Midway, Mrs. Midfield [see better days], Bob Freeman and Mr. Makepiece [the gathering of wealth and completing the piece.]
A week or so ago there was a revealing article in the Observer which, if true, makes it clear that the status race is with us for some time to come – in fact large employers of labour appear to welcome and encourage it; it is one of the few stimuli that makes us work now!
You may be surprised and interested to learn that the play was commissioned by the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and first presented to celebrate the re-opening of Coventry Cathedral and in December 1962 was transferred to the Saville Theatre in London with Sir Laurence Olivier as Fred Midway.”
Publicity #1: Semi-Detached
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: January 7 issue – page 12 – Publicity piece
Text Header: “Comedy for Wick group”
Casting has been completed for the Wick Theatre Company’s third production, David Turner’s comedy Semi-Detached, to be staged at the Barn Southwick, on February 10, 11 and 12.
David Turner is not a well known writer, although he does a lot of work for television, but Sir Laurence Olivier chose to appear in the West End production of the play. It was first performed in Coventry in connection with the opening of the new cathedral.
” We think it is the funniest thing we have done for a long time and hope that it will tempt good crowds along to the Barn in mid-February, when one needs some tempting, ” comments Mr. P. W. Power, the company’s publicity officer. Jean Porter and Ian Elliott are in the leads as they were in the Queen and the Welshman, but from medieval London they have moved to modern Midlands. The remainder of their family of two daughters and a son is played by Fay Stuart, Jean Bailey and Terry Phillippe, the last two being newcomers.
The plot is mainly of the pre and post marital problems of the family. Other boy friends and girl friends needed to complete the triangles are played by Jean [sic] and Ralph Dawes and Barrie Bowen and David Goodger.
Publicity #2: Semi-Detached
Publication Data: Unknown
Text Header: Original
The Wick Theatre Company have produced some very original advertising for their forthcoming production of David Turner’s Semi-Detached. In the form of an estate agent’s announcement headed SEMI-DETACHED, it gives details of the performances and concludes.
“VACANT POSSESSION of any seat at the Barn Theatre on February 10,11,12 at 7.45 by phoning Southwick 2542”.
A commendable effort.
Review #1: Semi-Detached
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 18 issue – page 2
Text Header: “Fun poked at status struggle”
The Wick Theatre Company was in splendid form at Barn Hall, Southwick, last weekend. David Turner’s fruity farce Semi-Detached was ripe for a harvest of laughs, and with a cast hand-picked by guest producer George Baker, of the Southwick Players, they just couldn’t go wrong. He set them a cracking pace, which was maintained without so much as a hint of flagging. Every situation in this fun-poke at keeping up with the Joneses was exploited to the full, and there were some grand character studies, deliberately overplayed but none the worse for that.
The play depicted an anything but peaceful Sunday morning for the Midway family, experts in climbing the social ladder. Ian Elliott, as Fred, the father and arch-exponent of the cult, gave a roundly satisfying performance with never a weak line. A droll study of Hilda, his status-conscious wife, as given by Jean Porter, and their daughters were played by Fay Sturt [spoiled temperamental Avril], the married one, and newcomer Jean Bailey [Eileen, the only believer in honesty being the best policy]. Adding appreciably to the fun were David Goodger as Nigel, Avril’s husband; Betty Dawes as his overbearing mother; Barrie Bowen as Robert, Eileen’s married man friend; Ralph Dawes as Arnold Makepiece, a wealthy but somewhat dirty old man; and second new face, Terry Phillippe, amusing as the teenage son, Tom.
Clodagh O’Farrell was stage manager, Frank Hurrell was in charge of lighting, properties were by Margaret Perrett, sound effects by Terry Mase and the most effective scenery by Barrie Bowen. Dorothy Burnside was production manager and Morfydd Bowen wardrobe mistress.
Review #2: Semi-Detached
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Text Header: “Fred and Co. capture that uneasy feeling”
The Wick Theatre Company production last week of David Turner’s comedy Semi-Detached was a considerable achievement. It is, perhaps, not generally recognised how difficult a conventional comedy is. To succeed in it, as the Wick Theatre Company succeeded, requires unremitting hard work by both producer and cast.
The story revolves round the completely amoral Fred Midway whose only criterion of success is money and the various ruses and manoevres [sic] that he contrives to better his position in the rat race.
The really considerable achievement in this production was Jean Porter’s Mrs. Medway. The amount of thought, inventiveness, and concentration given to this part could be seen in every gesture, every turn of the head, every adoring glance at her slickly successful, self-educated husband. It was completely successful. Running a close second was Ian Elliott as the master-mind himself. So superbly cocky in his correspondence-course culture, so delighted with his own contrivances and with genuine if self-centred delight in his family. The family consists of the son, Tom, most naturally played by Terry Phillips; the married daughter, Avril, played with enormous vitality by Fay Sturt; and the pushing-thirty, still unmarried, Eileen with left-wing tendencies, and ‘old-fashioned’ ideas of truth and honesty played by Jean Bailey.
A point of strength with this production was the excellent playing of the four smaller rôles. Bob Freeman, separated from his wife , having an affair with Eileen, and himself a contender in the status race, nicely characterised by Barrie Bowen; Nigel Hadfield, husband of daughter Avril, made a superbly comic character by David Goodger; his mother, Mrs. Garnet Hadfield, poised, domineering and beautifully bitchy by Betty Dawes; and Nigel’s uncle, Arnold Makepiece, the industrialist with a taste for young girls, by Ralph Dawes. Production was by George Baker, of the Southwick Players, with Clodagh O’Farrell as stage manager.
The play is a tract of the times with a disconcerting undercurrent of truth. It is a great tribute to cast and producer [and particularly, perhaps, to the producer] that despite the fun and frolics I came away feeling a trifle uneasy.
Comment #1: Semi-Detached
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication data: February 18 1966
Heading: “Producer on loan for one play”
Ever heard of a theatre company asking their greatest rival to lend them their producer for one play only? Well, Wick Theatre Company did just this. They asked Southwick Payers if they could transfer on a temporary basis their producer, George Baker. The Players agreed and George was in charge of things for the Wick’s latest play, David Turner’s witty Semi-Detached, which ran for three days last week at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.
Why did they want George in the first place? Ian Elliott, who played the leading rôle of Fred Midway, answered that point on the first night: “George is a marvellous producer. The tolerant way he handles the players is par excellence. “Ian also says his own part is the most exacting he’s ever personally encountered. “Can you blame me for feeling nervous. There’s about 90 pages in the script and I’m in for about 80-odd. I’m on stage, too, for just about the whole of the 2½ hours.”
The play must be the funniest the company has presented. It is a skit on the modern rat-race and it’s done with the company’s customary polish. Fred Midway, an insurance man, is a social climber if ever there was one, but his progress up the social ladder is retarded by all sorts of curious complications. The language is very adult but never offensive and the audience took it in the right spirit.
The company’s next production, April 13 – 16, is Eugene O’Neill’s A Touch of the Poet.