Bert; Assistant Goblin
Essie; Elf Guard
Technical Crew Details:
Settings, Designs and Management
Rosemary Swinscoe and Tim Andrews
Back Stage Goblins
Kim Jones, Ric White, Chris Andrews, Jeff Shrubb, Pete Bridges, Phil Smerdon
Tim Young, Cliff Palmer, Garry Turner
Reviewed by R.J.-D. For The Croydon Advertiser, Friday December 17, 1976
The World of Tolkien
The segmented world of J.R.R. Tolkien, with its separate kingdoms of dwarves, elves, goblins and trolls (to name but a few), was brought to life by Theatre Workshop Coulsdon when, last week, they presented the dramatisation by Patricia Gray of his book “The Hobbit.”
Scholars of the works of Tolkien, best known for his three volume epic “The Lord of the Rings,” may well be disappointed by the brevity of the play, but can find comfort in the fact that very few liberties have been taken by the adapter, much of the dialogue coming from the original text. However, in order to condense the work for the stage, a lot of the mystique has been lost.
Hobbits, for the uninitiated, are mild unadventurous little people, approximately half our size, with the unique physical feature of having feet that grow natural leathery soles and thick brown hair! – Points not really made clear in this production.
Our hero Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, finds himself unwillingly participating in an adventure. Co-opted by 13 dwarfs anxious not to remain that number (confusingly reduced to 11 on this occasion), who are under the impression that he is a burglar and therefore the right man to help them enter the secret world of Smaug, the dreaded dragon, kill him and retrieve their long stolen treasures. All good festive fun.
Tim Young was well cast as the eager-to-please Bilbo, capturing the audience’s sympathy right from the start. (It was a cunning move on Miss Gray’s part to allow Bilbo to keep a diary, thus getting across incidents difficult to stage).
Tim Andrews gave a strong performance as Gandalf the wandering wizard, but Chris Argles was not quite forceful enough as the dwarf leader Thorin.
Lesley Argles was a regal Elven Queen, Liz Sutton a slimy Gollum and Cliff Palmer a fascinating, rather than frightening, Smaug.
It is difficult to select any other member of the cast for special mention as each was part of a team. They all made the most of their few lines and tried to develop a definite character.
Owing to illness, Keith Walton was not able to direct the production, which was not helped by a number of prompts. Costumes and settings were good, but scene changes needed to be quicker.
This is a play designed to appeal to the younger theatregoer, and it was sad to see less than a handful of children in the small audience. I wish the cast better support when they give a repeat performance tomorrow (Saturday).