The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
February 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16, 1974.
The Night of the Iguana
by Tennessee Williams
Valerie Bingham – Maxine Faulk
Colin Hunt – Pedro
Mike King – Pancho
Roger Stott – Reverend Shannon
Barrie Bowen – Hank
Keith Denyer – Herr Fahrenkopf
Ulla Sharman – Frau Fahrenkopf
Stephen Hayler – Wolfgang
Sheila Deasey – Hilda
Frances Moulton – Judith Fellowes
Jean Porter – Hannah Jelkes
Helena Drzyzga – Charlotte Goodall
Neil McKellar – Jonathan Coffin [Nonno]
Neil Shepherd – Jake Latta
Stage Manager – Bill Mack
Production Secretary – Monica Joyce
Set Designer – Vincent Joyce
Set Construction – Bill Mack
Set Construction – Tony Morrison
Set Construction – Paul Vrettos
Assistant Stage Manager – Ethel Barrs
Assistant Stage Manager – Sally Browne
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Sound – Frank Hurrell
Sound – Vincent Joyce
Wardrobe – Mary Payne
Properties – Margaret Davy
Front of House Manager – George Penney
Display Photographs – John Elliott
Programme Note #1: Night of the Iguana
GP wrote: “At last the Iguana, a play on our list for production for several years. In rehearsal we have studied the play in detail and have wondered why we waited so long. It is a fascinating drama of contrasting characters requiring acting of strength and sensitivity.
The Reverend Lawrence T. Shannon [defrocked] says he is ‘at the end of his rope’ – like the captive iguana under the Mexican verandah. There are many symbols in this play. Is the captive iguana a symbol of man’s spirit [or Shannon’s] struggling to be free of guilt for lost ideals? Are Maxine and Hannah symbols for physical and spiritual love? Will Shannon, at the end of his rope, always opt for second best? Does Nonno’s poem explain Hannah or the play? I hope you will find your answers as the story unfolds.”
Programme Note #2: Night of the Iguana
“With Night of the Iguana, we reach the ‘strong meat’ of our season’s menu. We hope you will find it as powerful and satisfying in performance as we have found it in rehearsal. Now there is the dessert course to look forward to. Here we can promise you a ‘Bombe Surprise’ served with the most fantastic petit fours you have ever seen and washed down with the very best champagne. Nikki Le Roy’s planned production of An Italian Straw Hat seems certain to bring our 25th Season to a triumphantly outrageous conclusion!
So far the season has been a most encouraging one. We have added a large number of new acting members [the current production includes five new names] and we are now in the middle of a weekly drama training course which promises to do much for the quality of our future productions. Our plans for next season are already underway. We are grateful for your continued support and we promise to offer the same wide range of drama as before.
Our Team which won the Radio Brighton Trophy last year went on to win the Southwick Community Association Top Team award last month after a nail-biting final with a formidable Women’s Institute team. Congratulations!
Congratulations too, to Barrie Bowen and the cast, producer and backstage team of The Amorous Prawn who carried off three awards [including best actor] in the Brighton Drama Festival. Now we look forward to the Southwick Festival for which Richard Porter is producing White Liars.”
Publicity #1: Night of the Iguana
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 1 issue – page 2
Text Header: “NIGHT OF THE IGUANA”
THE Wick Theatre Company’s production of Tennessee William’s Night of the Iguana will be held at the Barn Theatre, Southwick from February 6 until February 12 at 7.45 p.m. and few plays are designed to take you further away from wintry England.
The action takes place on the veranda of an hotel in Mexico and into this tropical atmosphere come a varied assortment of people. The few hours they spend together has a profound effect on each of their lives. There is Shannon [Roger Stott] a defrocked priest on the verge of a breakdown; Hannah [Jean Porter] and her grandfather [Neil McKellar] an artist and poet, who is emotionally and financially bankrupt. And there is Maxine [Valerie Burt], the proprietress of the hotel, recently widowed and with designs on Shannon.
In the course of the play an Iguana is captured and as it frets against its tethers, seems to symbolise the characters in the play.
The Wick company has gone for realism for its photo call; using the hot house in Stanmer Park as a tropical background.
Review #1: Night of the Iguana
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: February 15 1974 Issue
Reviewer: Harry Patterson
Text Header: “Wick’s Iguana on the Williams wavelength”
ONCE in a while it’s a good thing to become completely immersed in a Tennessee Williams play; to re-discover there is more to people and life than pretty phrases and fine words. Williams’s Night of the Iguana creeps up on you, grabs you the throat and forces you to think. The doubts, torments and indecisions most people bury behind a mask of so-called civilisation Williams not only looks at, but drags out and shines a spotlight on them. He seems to be saying ‘Look, this is real, this is as much a part of life as recognised behaviour patterns. It’s important so examine it.’
To portray the depth of character Williams writes about is asking a great deal of an amateur dramatic group, but the Wick Theatre Company [Barn Theatre on Tuesday] obviously found the playwright’s wavelength. It was a powerful performance right the way down the line, and its success hinged on Roger Stott’s ability to get inside the Rev. Lawrence Shannon, a defrocked priest. Shannon, kicked out of the Church for statutory rape, becomes a coach tour operator and slowly goes down hill. Every so often he has a mental breakdown and ends up at an hotel on a jungle covered hilltop in Mexico. Shannon finds it impossible to come to terms with himself. His emotions throw him first one way then the other as he fights to become something he is not. Roger Stott is entirely believable as a man who has lost his way and is not strong enough to find the track he wants.
Jean Porter plays Hannah Jelkes, a lonely spinster from Nantucket, who travels the world with her 97-year-old grandfather, but in search of what? Sensitive and kind she attempts, in her own way, to guide Shannon. Maxine, played by Valerie Burt, runs the hotel and on the surface is about as sensitive as a brick wall. Her one aim in life is to have Shannon, possibly for her own pleasure, but then again she is the only one who sees him as he really is.
Neil McKellar portrays Nono, the grandfather, who lives only for a poem he started years previously but could not finish. Eventually he finishes the poem and then discovers the only possible way to solve life’s problems.
There is nothing to fault in the four major performances and the minor rôles are also dealt with more than adequately. The production, brilliantly directed by George Porter, is one to be remembered. A superbly designed and constructed set allied with good effects match the standard of the acting.
The play continues tonight [Friday] and tomorrow at the Barn Theatre, Southwick starting at 7.45 p.m.
Review #2: Night of the Iguana
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Walter Hix
Text Header: “NIGHT-LIFE IN THE JUNGLE”
THE NIGHT of the Iguana, by Tennessee Williams currently presented by the Wick Theatre Company is, perhaps, a play that one respects and admires rather than enjoys. It is a play in which the characters, while real in themselves, may well be symbolic of a wider concept. It is intensely interesting, and as big a challenge as an amateur company can seek.
Any faults there are in this production as so minor as to be irrelevant to the towering quality of the whole. The mechanics of the play do justice to the performance, Bill Mack’s stage management is meticulous and Vincent Joyce has achieved a stage setting as fine as I have seen anywhere, while the costumes and make-up enforce the humid sweaty heat of the jungle-covered Mexican hilltop.
When I first heard of this production I commented that George Porter would prove an ideal director for this play and events have proved me right, particularly with the care taken with the minor characters. Colin Hunt and Mike King as Pedro and Pancho the hotel ‘boys’, Keith Denyer, Ulla Sharman, Stephen Hayler and Sheila Deasey as the Nazi family on holiday gloating over radio-news of the bombing of London in this summer of 1940, Barrie Bowen as hank and Neil Shephard as Jake Latta, the tour operators, are all minor characters but important to the play.
Roger Stott has the arduous Richard Burton rôle of the Rev. Lawrence Shannon, locked out of his church and reduced to running tatty tours. He plays it superbly. Valerie Bingham is Maxine Faulk, the proprietress of the Costa Verde hotel, a completely physical person with a rough and ready kind heart and she has a successfully amoral attitude to life. Helena Drzyzga is the teenage Charlotte Goodall who throws herself at Shannon, Frances Moulton the loud-mouthed matron Judith Fellowes who denounces Shannon to his employers.
Finally the two characters who symbolise the spiritual side of life, Hannah Jelkes, an itinerant artist scraping a living drifting round hotels selling water-colours and immediate character sketches, accompanied by Jonathan Coffin, [Nonno] her 97-year-old grand-father, and the oldest living practicing poet. They are superlatively drawn by the author and superlatively played by Jean porter and Neil McKellar who bring this almost unwanted sublimity to the sleazy atmosphere of the story.