Technical Crew Details:
Cy N Wave
Wardrobe and Make Up
Cathie Gunnell and Rosemary Quin
Reviewed by J.M.A. For The Croydon Advertiser, Friday April 18, 1975
Two views of Unreality
These two one-act plays are alike in so far as they reveal reality by side-stepping into another sphere, and do so with comic irony.
The first, however, is black comedy, culminating in a professor stabbing his pupil because she cannot understand subtractions. The second is comedy pure and simple (white comedy?) because the deaths are stage deaths.
Theatre Workshop Coulsdon tackled these interesting themes with gusto and intelligence. Ionesco’s “The Lesson” has only three characters, the professor, his maid and his pupil, and the weight of the piece falls on the Professor, a part which calls for fine judgement. He starts by being over-courteous and very gradually becomes irritated, and finally back to normal as the doorbell rings and another pupil enters.
Cliff Palmer understood the role thoroughly, with excellent gestures, voice and demeanour, but took too long to show the first irritation so that the hysteria was rather telescoped. Liz Sutton as the pupil applied her quite well conceived actions a little mechanically. However, the tension between the two was adequately communicated, and that is the dramatic point – someone called it “A coiled spring of contracted violence.”
Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” had a Goonish blurring of accepted demarcation lines, here the great divide between stage and audience. Journalists are watching a thriller, which contains every possible cliché of mysterious stranger, fog-bound manor, body under the settee. They speak their reviews aloud, and they too are a parody of every pseudo-intellectual review ever printed. One of the journalists answers the stage phone (it is his wife!) and both men are drawn into a repeat of the action of the play.
Stephen Airey and Chris Argles as the two journalists coped well with the switch from critic to actor. Maria Foxlee was an officious maid but could have been more slovenly and more pert. Sarah Berwick as the ‘bright young thing’ and Lesley Argles as the sophisticate did well not to exaggerate their roles.
Stephen Swinscoe was an amusing Inspector but his slapstick did not quite fit in with the total concept. Keith Walton as – ssh, I mustn’t say – could have been authoritative in voice and gesture. Bob Emerson as the victim was adequate and the body on the floor during the entire performance must be given credit too.