The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
December 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11, 1976.
by Noël Coward
Jean Porter – The Marquise, Eloise de Kestournal
Valerie Burt – Alice, her maid
Douglas Tucker – The Compte, Raoul de Vriaac
Susan Cara – Adrienne, his daughter
David Peaty – Jacques Rijar, his secretary
Keith Denyer – Esteban, El Duco de Santaguano
Tim Cara – Miguel
Bill Mack – Hubert
Stage Director – George Laye
Stage Manager – Alan Upton
Assistant Stage Manager – Ethel Barrs
Assistant Stage Manager – Anita Hill
Stage Design – George Laye
Set Construction – Bill Mack
Wardrobe Mistress – Hilary Woodward
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Lighting – Andrew Theaker
Programme Note #1: The Marquise
AL wrote: “The Marquise, according to the ‘master’, is a tenuous, frivolous little piece. He says he had no apparent reason, except that pictorially the period is attractive, for electing to place a brittle ‘modern’ comedy in an 18th Century setting.
For us it offers a challenge – a fine piece of theatre because it extends us all – director, cast and technical staff.
We hope that by uniting our thoughts and efforts, you, like Noël Coward, after seeing the first performance of his play in London will consider it ‘gay, charming and altogether delightful’ and we trust that we shall make the evening enjoyable for you.”
Programme Note #2: The Marquise
This production by WICK is their entry for the Brighton & District Drama Association Full Length Play Festival 1976.
WICK is one of nine amateur companies competing for a number of awards. The play will be adjudicated by the West Sussex County Drama Adviser, George Rawlins. WICK is trying for a hat-trick of Best Play award having taken this with The Lark in 1974 and When We Are Married in 1975. Douglas Tucker is also going for three, having taken Best Actor in the WICK’s previous two award winning productions.
Review #1: The Marquise
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 10 1976 issue – page 8
Reviewer: Frank Horsley
Text Header: “The Marquise”
IT WILL TAKE a very fine piece of theatre indeed to prevent Wick Theatre Company from winning the Brighton and district drama festival for the third year running. That was the natural verdict after seeing them perform their 1976 entry The Marquise, at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, on Wednesday.
Among the enrapt second night audience was festival adjudicator Mr. George Rawlins, the West Sussex county drama adviser. And how well Wick rose to the occasion with a superbly crisp, if not always word perfect interpretation of Noël Cowards’ frothy comedy! The theme is modern, but the setting 18th-century, which prompted Coward to insert a lot of Moliere-tyoe humour and irony into the proceedings.
All the best lines seem to fall to the leading lady, the two-timing Marquise, who was beautifully portrayed by Jean Porter. Not far behind her in the honours list was Keith Denyer as Esteban, the amoral Duke of Santaguano. Whether intentional or not he often sounded like the maestro himself – Noël Coward – and epitomised the frivolity of the whole piece. Being such perfectionists, Wick probably groaned at the rare memory lapse from Douglas Tucker [The Compte] in the second act. Douglas, moving confidently towards a hat-trick of Brighton festival best actor awards, suddenly fluffed his cue amid a flurry of finger snapping.
I detected occasional waverings in the intonation of Susan Cara [Adrienne] and Tom Cara [Miguel], but such minor flaws were not enough to foil the aim of director Audrey Laye – to provide, in the words of Coward, a ‘gay, charming and altogether delightful’ piece of entertainment.
But judge for yourself by visiting the Barn Theatre either tonight [Friday] of tomorrow when The Marquise has its last two showings. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Review #2: The Marquise
Publication: Brighton & Hove Gazette
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: John Mathias
Text Header: “Quart in a pint pot”
A QUART in a pint pot sums up the Wick’s production of Coward’s The Marquise last week. They succeeded in creating a feeling of spaciousness and great elegance fro the 18th century setting in quite a small acting space.
After a formal opening scene in a French chateau, the author settles down to provide some scintillating lines. The Marquise, an ex-actress who just falls short of being a courtesan, and manipulates her lovers like puppets on strings of pearls, was given a sparkling portrayal by Jean Porter. As the phlegmatic Count de Vriaac, hiding a thirst for affection while enjoying a vintage way of life, Douglas Tucker drew a sharp portrayal. An excellent foil as the rival for the Marquise’s hand – in or out of marriage – was characterised by Keith Denyer as Estaban. The semi-comic duel scene was beautifully staged. The servant Hubert, played by Bill Mack, and the maid, by Valerie Burt, were neat cameos.
Stylish direction by Audrey Laye and elegant costumes and setting made the production one of the company’s best. And skilful use of musical interludes greatly added to the play’s French flavour.