The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
May 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17 1969
You Never Can Tell
by Bernard Shaw
David Curtis – Valentine
Juliet Robyns – Dolly
Anthony Deasey – Phil
Coral Guildford – Parlourmaid
Frances Moulton – Mrs. Clandon
Margaret Ockenden – Gloria
Brian Moulton – Mr. Crampton
Jack Bingham – Mr. M’Comas
Ralph Dawes – William
Terry Mase – Young waiter
Roy Davidson – Mr. Bohun
Set Designed – Mike Harrington
Set Construction – Mike Harrington
Set Construction – Barrie Bowen
Stage Manager – Barrie Bowen
Stage Lighting – Frank Hurrell
Effects – Terry Mase
Effects – Frank Hurrell
Properties – Frances Thorne
Properties – Christina Lemsal
Wardrobe – Morfydd Bowen
Costume Hire – Le Roy of Brighton
Front of House Manager – George Porter
Programme Note: You Never Can Tell
“We extend a warm welcome to George Baker of the Southwick Players as producer of You Never Can Tell. In the pat George has produced Agatha Christie’s The Hollow and David Turner’s Semi-Detached for the Wick Theatre Company. He will soon be working on Carmen to be presented by the Southwick Operatic Society at the end of October/beginning of November.
GB wrote: “Shaw’s prefaces to his plays were sometimes longer than the plays themselves, but You Never Can Tell is an exception. He only says, in typical Shavian conceit, that this “was an attempt to comply with many requests for a play in which the much paragraphed ‘brilliancy’ of Arms and the Man should be tempered by some requirements of managers in search of fashionable comedies for West End Theatres. I had no difficulty in complying, as I have always cast my plays in the ordinary practical comedy form in use at all the theatres; and far from taking an unsympathetic view of the popular preferences for fun, fashionable dresses, a little light music, and even an exhibition of eating and drinking by people with an expensive air, attended by an if – possible – comic waiter, I was more than willing to shew that the drama can humanize these things as easily as they, in the wrong hands, can de-humanize the drama”!!
This was a play he is quoted as “having tossed off in my spare moments” but is nevertheless excellently written and entertaining and likely as long as his other plays.
Here then, is a comedy of fashionable manners in 1896 as the Wick Theatre Company’s previous comedy The School for Scandal in this season of comedies was on of the fashionable manners of 1777.”
Review #1: You Never Can Tell
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: May 16 1969 issue – page 20
Text Header: “WICK THEATRE CO. TRIUMPH IN SHAW PLAY”
VERY rarely does a play merit unqualified praise. Amateur productions are on a few occasions so successful that the audience forget to notice the little imperfections that cannot be avoided by a cast with limited rehearsal time. So it is a special kind of triumph that the Wick Theatre Company scores in its latest production, George Bernard Shaw’s You Never Can Tell, third in its series of comedies, which finishes a five-day run tomorrow [Saturday] at the Barn Theatre, Southwick. The cast’s obvious involvement with the play and the vigour of the production are two factors beyond criticism.
Shaw claimed that he ‘tossed off in his spare moments’ this story of a mother and three grown-up children who return to England from Madeira to meet, fight and finally come to terms with the long-separated head of the family. But the very lightness of the plot lends it an added vitality which combines refreshingly with the characteristic sprinklings of Shavian social and moral comment.
Guest producer George Baker, of the Southwick Players, is clearly in no doubt about the play’s possibilities. And his handling of the second act, set on the terrace of a hotel at Torbay, Devon, shows a skill in using the stage to its best advantage which is evident throughout. Ralph Dawes must be more than happy to find himself playing that endearing ‘comic’ waiter, William, a rewarding part given the benefit of a definitive version by Sir Ralph Richardson not so long ago. Ralph Dawes plays the rôle his own way, extracting every ounce from William’s many pearls of wisdom in a well-timed performance.
Jack Bingham hits exactly the right style as family solicitor Mr. M’Comas, while Roy Davidson a member of Southwick Operatic Society, is suitably commanding as the eminent Q.C., Mr. Bohun. Both show a highly-developed sense of stage relationships, dovetailing perfectly with the other characters. Frances Moulton plays Mrs. Clandon, the liberal-minded mother who left her husband and took their three children to Madeira at an early age. With a powerful and convincing performance she masters a demanding rôle that must have been the despair of many a good actress. She is matched by Brian Moulton’s crusty Mr. Crampton, the deserted husband so embittered by the experience. He endows the part with a strength subtly concealing the weakness of the inner man.
The two younger children, Dolly and Phil, are given warmth and naturalness by Juliet Robyns and Anthony Deasey, nicely balanced against an ardent performance from David Curtis as Valentine. His emotional scenes managed to sound both sincere and humourous, without tipping over into embarrassment. But it is the subject of his attentions, Gloria, played by Margaret Ockenden, who steals many of the scenes. Miss Ockenden’s fine control of the part produces an outstanding, sensitive performance which rivets attention to the stage from start to finish. Other parts are played by Coral Guildford, as a parlour maid, and Terry Mase, as a young waiter. The set was designed by Mike Harrington, and stage manager is Barrie Bowen.
Review #2: You Never Can Tell
Publication Data: May 16 1969 issue
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW’S gift for taking a gentle rise out of 19th century respectability – with just a touch of acid – is abundantly illustrated in You Never Can Tell. And the Wick Theatre’s ability to make the sort of success out of this play which Mr. Shaw would have undoubtedly have applauded, is perfectly illustrated with their presentation this week.
At the Barn Theatre, Southwick, one character in particular makes the most of the great G.B.S. wit – David Curtis, as the earnest suitor Mr. Valentine. His buoyant performance steals nearly every scene. Much of the credit for the general smoothness of the play goes to producer George Baker who has been ‘borrowed’ by Wick from the Southwick Players. High on the credit list with David Curtis is Frances Moulton, as the austere Mrs. Clandon; Juliet Robyns, as Dolly, and Margaret Ockenden’s Gloria.
The play finishes tomorrow.’
Review #3: You Never Can Tell
Publication Data: May 16 1969 issue
Text Header: “Wick excel with Shaw’s characters”
SHAW’S You Never Can Tell currently presented by the Wick Theatre Company at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, cocks a sly snook at the ‘Rights of Women’ movement and is as brilliantly witty as a Shaw play can be. Producer George Baker [of the Southwick Player] and the cast have together done an excellent job of characterisation, and some scenes requiring precision of movement are handled with great skill. There is, perhaps, as tendency for characters to march across the stage giving the play at times a restless appearance.
Valentine, reduced to being a ‘five shilling dentist’ with one patient in six weeks, is played with great verve by David Curtis. His single patient, who involves him with the rest of the characters is Juliet Robyns, who gives a delightfully ingénue reading of the part and is never for a moment out of character. Her brother is also well played by Anthony Deasey.
Their mother, estranged from her husband and a doughty champion of the modern woman, is sharply etched by Frances Moulton. The elder daughter, whose maternal training in self-sufficiency breaks down before the wooing of Valentine, is Margaret Ockenden, who handles well the change of mood that the part demands. Their father is very well played indeed by Brian Moulton, who once again shows his ability to convince as the older man beset with perplexities [Surely his playing in Anna Christie is still remembered].
Of the rest of the characters, Ralph Dawes is quite outstanding as the waiter with an inexhaustible store of tact and discretion. His playing is a lesson in timing of lines. The family solicitor is Jack Bingham, the Q.C. is Roy Davidson with Coral Guildford as a parlourmaid and Terry Mase as a young waiter.
Final performances tonight and tomorrow at 7.45.