Technical Crew Details:
Reviewed by Peter Steptoe for The Croydon Advertiser
This is a roistering, robust, raunchy rendering of Henry Fielding’s novel, adapted for the stage by the director Richard Lloyd who also manages to play two parts. It is performed with pace, panache and purpose by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon.
I marvelled at the speed of the scene changes, the set constructed for multi-purposes and the way the actors went about the timing of entrances and exits.
There are 31 characters in the play and of necessity nine actors play two parts without us being aware that this is happening. They are helped by the excellent costumes, wigs and other disguises but succeed mainly on ability.
If you want to learn the business of Am-dram, this is the group to join.
Tom Jones (Chris Blakeney) is the sort of foundling that many young ladies might be pleased to romp in the hay with, and none better than Emma Rose as Molly Seagrim. Her impish grin and well-defined figure has us laughing, if disapprovingly, at her antics.
Steve North as the schoolmaster Mr Thwackum is a bigot of bigots while Chris Argles as Mr Allworthy, Tom’s guardian, is honour personified.
Mike Brown is an excellent Recruiting Sergeant and a splendidly foppish Lord Felamar.
But what a nasty piece of work is Mr Blifil (Luke Argles) as Tom’s enemy and Allworthy’s nephew, forcing his attentions on our heroine, the delightful Sophia Western (Louisa Cowling).
How she could have had that blustering, Somerset-accented, bully-for-a-father (Howard Payne) I do not know; she must have taken after her mother.
There is a splendid swordfight between two dangerous rapiers, wielded by Tom and a highwayman (Richard Lloyd) and I am happy to say neither swords are damaged.
All the ladies are most attractive, Mrs Waters (Nicky Greene) who luckily turned out not to be Tom’s mother, Cherry (Sarah Palmer), the landlord’s available daughter, Mrs Fitzpatrick (Tanya Allison) an errant wife, and the easy-to-bribe chambermaid Susan (Lucy-Ann Martin).
The whole plot depends upon coincidences and other odd happenings, but then how could it be otherwise, in the glorious Age of Reason?
The programme notes state, incidentally, that notable characters from other 18th and 19th century writings have been incorporated to add spice and vigour, without apparently damaging the original.