The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
December 14, 15 & 16 1961
Breath of Spring
by Peter Coke
Betty Elliott – Miss Parry [Nan]
Maureen Hammonds – Lily Thompson
Betty Dawes – Lady Miller [Alice]
Ralph Dawes – The Brigadier [Bertie]
Bess Blagden – Dame Beatrice Appleby [Bee]
Frances Moulton – Miss Hatfield [Hattie]
Ross Workman – Detective Sergeant Pape
George Porter – Policeman
Stage Manager – Patrick Daniels
Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Sound Effects – Beverley Sturmey
Wardrobe – Jennie Walker
Stage Staff – Elizabeth Courtney-King
Stage Staff – Mary Chinchen
Stage Staff – Ann Skemer
Stage Staff – Maureen Paine
Set Design – Harry Chinchen
Set Construction – Harry Chinchen
Front of House Manager – George Penney
EP wrote: “If you don’t enjoy this play, go and see your doctor!
If you don’t laugh at all, go and see a psychiatrist!
If you do enjoy it and laugh a lot, come and see the Young Wick again.”
Publication Data: December 16 1961 issue
Text Header: “They Stole to Help Others”
There is laughter most of the way in Breath of Spring, by Peter Coke, which the Young Wick Players have been presenting at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, this week, with the final performance to-night.
Produced by Elizabeth Penney, the play has the theme of a modern Robin Hood ‘gang’, all upper-crust tenants of flats in London owned by Dame Beatrice Appleby, who decide to specialise in robbing owners of fur coats, dispose of them to a fence, and donate the financial profit to people less well off than themselves.
Bess Blagden, playing Dame Beatrice after too long an absence from local dramatic circles, admirably portrays the cultured woman who finds larceny an exciting business, and puts the rôle over with an infectious larger-than-life gaiety. Largely contributing to the fun are Betty Elliott as masculine Miss Parry, the elocution teacher, and in contrast Frances Moulton as the dithery, meek Miss Hatfield, who more that once nearly lands her fellow partners in crime where they belong – in jail. Betty Dawes, the imposing Lady Miller, acts with realism and is most amusing when trying to trap into marriage the Brigadier, ably played by Ralph Dawes. She finds a formidable rival in Dane Beatrice, however. As the Dame’s devoted maid who has seen the inside of a prison, Maureen Hammonds adds appreciably to the frolic. The cast is capably rounded-off by Ross Workman and George Porter as a detective sergeant and constable. There is a commendable setting.
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 22 1961 issue – page 3.
Text Header: “Old people who turn to crime”
WITH Betty Elliott and Frances Moulton in any cast, an amateur drama group has the basis of solid talent and experience. This proved to be the case in Breath of Spring, an uproarious comedy staged by Young Wick Players at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The opening night of any play is chancy. First night nerves for the newcomers and backstage hitches all tend to throw the actors off-balance, but there were no signs of this.
The play has naturally slow opening, the author striving to show, by example, the metamorphosis which takes place later in the play of old people who turn to crime. The ease with which they can steal furs and sell them to help needy people has none of the devil-may-care spirit of Robin Hood, but the principle is the same. The forays of these people with time on their hands are timed to a nicety and with military precision by Brigadier Bertie, played by Ralph Dawes, and he was enormous in his part. Each theft a battle, he arrayed his queerly assorted gang and sent them off to steal.
Frances Moulton as the dithery, nerve-racked, twittery Hattie, was superb. Her flutterings, her changes of mood, hysterics and fumblings were a constant source of many laughs, and she was aided and betted with splendid elan by Betty Elliott as the over-mastering elocutionist with a flair for mimicry. They poured on the hot, strong brew of sheer comedy with every ounce of energy and carried the play along when the rest of the cast were playing their parts in a muted tone because of fear of over-acting.
Newcomer to three-act plays, Maureen Hammonds, as Lily, the ex-convict maid, was competent, although her voice failed to carry at times. Lady Miller, played by Betty Dawes, and Dame Beatrice [Bess Blagden] were also fine parts which were sustained throughout.
I was glad the Players avoided the obvious and gave a play without a Christmas flavour. TV will pour out enough in the next few days! Ross Workman and George Porter, as the police officers, were seen only at the end, but Ross Workman as the Detective Sergeant trying to get information from the old people, maintained the high level of comedy.
It was a good play, fast and full of laughs.