The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
May 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15, 1971.
Spring and Port Wine
by Bill Naughton
Betty Dawes – Daisy Crompton
Joy Talmage – Florence Crompton
Frances Moulton – Betsy Jane
Patrick Newman – Wilfred Crompton
Neil Shephard – Harold Crompton
Sally Bacon – Hilda Crompton
Brian Moulton – Rafe Crompton
Barrie Bowen – Arthur
Stage Manager – Jack Bingham
Production Secretary – Rickard Coussins
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Properties – Frances Thorne
Properties – Margaret Ockenden
Effects – Terry Gibbs
Wardrobe – Pat Moss
Front of House Manager – Paul Carpenter
Programme Note #1: Spring and Port Wine
RD wrote: “Characterisation is a large part of an actor’s or producer’s work. Real ‘characters’ clearly defined are an essential in any play. Spring and Port Wine is a very well written play with strongly indicated characters. The ‘Cromptons’ as individuals are typical of their time [the early 1960’s]. At least, I think we have met some of them.
I hope you find this play as interesting and entertaining in performance as I have found it to produce.”
Programme Note #2: Spring and Port Wine
FRANCES MOULTON, one of WICK’s established actresses, joined us in 1956 and is equally at home as actress or producer. Her taste is for comedies particularly classical. Past performances were with You Never Can Tell, Oh! What a Lovely War, Breath of Spring, Dial M for Murder, The Heiress, The Hollow, Life With Father. All these are as she puts it, plays which hold the audience and a re conclusive. These are the criteria Frances regards as necessary for any play.
Her productions include Pride and Prejudice, Watch It, Sailor, Sailor, Beware and As Long As They’re Happy. Associated with the production function, Frances also has a keen interest in costume, and dislikes productions which disregard attention to authenticity and finish.
FRANK HURRELL is our all too often unsung hero of the lighting box. He has undertaken lighting design and operation on almost every production since our beginning. Together with many of his colleagues of the early days he played a vital rôle in commissioning this theatre and as a member of the Community Centre lighting box staff has continued to maintain and update the lighting and other facilities to give what is by many amateur theatre standards an extremely flexible system.
He designs and plots all our lighting needs and over the years has helped us develop many special effects from explosions to walking umbrellas!
By profession Frank trained as an electronic engineer and is now a Senior Television Engineer with BBC TV. This makes Frank our only member whose profession and hobby are closely allied, and what an advantage that has been and is still to us.
Review #1: Spring and Port Wine
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: May 14 issue – page 2
Reviewer: Leonard Legg
Text Header: “Subtle work in Spring and Port Wine”
DEPTH and subtlety of characterisation are the key notes of Wick Theatre Company’s production of Spring and Port Wine at the Barn Theatre, which runs until tomorrow [Saturday].
Set in Bolton, Lancashire in the present day, the story is concerned with the attempts of a family to come to terms with the new affluence and morality of post-war society. The rest of the family finds the transition very easy, but father’s philosophy is still rooted in the 1930s. To make matters worse, Rafe Crompton is a bit of a tyrant who insists all the other members of his family live to the impossibly-high standards. The friction which results, at times seeming enough to destroy the family in the space of the one week-end we are watching them, forms the basis of a very interesting play.
As the play progresses it moves through comedy, drama and pathos and the members of the cast are equal to all the demands placed upon them. High point of the evening for me, was Brian Moulton’s sympathetic handling of his part as Rafe Crompton.
Hero and villain
Rafe at various times in the play is both hero and villain, appearing both as the domineering father and as a figure much more sympathetic to human weakness. It says much for Mr. Moulton that he seemed equally at ease in both parts. But most of the play is concerned with the comic situation produced by the bullying of Rafe, and the reactions of a family who know they ought to stand up to him, but somehow never quite summon up the courage to do so.
The catalyst comes in the form of Arthur [Barrie Bowen], who is the fiancée of the daughter Florence. He is driven to stand up to Rafe with the inevitable complication that he is banned from the house. The scene in which Rafe, unused to any opposition in his own home, argues with Arthur, is the high point of the play and both men play it very well.
With a cast of only eight there was really no such thing as a small part and all have to pull their weight for the total effect of the play. Betty Dawes, as the sympathetic mother of the family, and Sally Bacon, as daughter Hilda, a character almost as strong as her father, are particularly good.
Review #2: Spring and Port Wine
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: John Ross
Text Header: “A right good job, Wick!”
I HAVE forgotten the name of the play, for it was many, many years ago, but the experience of being sent on the stage almost at the last moment as an understudy was one that memory can never dim. It was the highlight of a happy, active association with the world of amateur drama which had sadly to be dropped, although the interest in these keen bands of ‘part-time actors’ has remained.
So it was a pleasure, even as an understudy, to go along to Southwick’s Barn Theatre to see Wick Theatre Company in Spring and Port Wine which had a successful stage run and was later made into a film. Not the easiest of plays to tackle, this tale of a Lancashire family dominated by their father Rafe Crompton who made such a to-do about a herring that his daughter refused to eat at supper, thus precipitating a family crisis out of all proportion to the issue involved.
Having seen both play and film, I can truly say that the Wick Players made a ‘right good job’ of Bill Naughton’s play and provided a most pleasant couple of hours. Certainly, getting to grips with the northern accent provided its problems – it happens to professionals too – and there were many lapses, as in the expression delivered as ” I’m really mithered ” [puzzled] which any true northerner knows should be more truly rendered as ‘I’m really mythered’ [or ‘moythered’]. A small point in an otherwise overall efficient production by Ralph Dawes, with effective lighting by Frank Hurrell.
I liked particularly the solid, down-to-earth presentation of Rafe Crompton by Brian Moulton, with able support from Betty Dawes as his wife Daisy, Neil Shephard as son Harold, and Frances Moulton, making an all too brief appearance as the borrowing neighbour Betsy Jane. The others in the cast who, to borrow a phrase, worked with varying degrees of success, were Joy Talmage, Sally Bacon, Barrie Bowen and Patrick Newman.