South Yorkshire Times June 2, 1951
Annual Theatre Review
When I began my annual review last June of the productions by South Yorkshire amateur dramatic societies for the 1949-50 season. I had this to say about this season; -There are indications that the next term may be bolder than that just closed.” Those hopes, I regret to say, have not been fulfilled.
With the exception of Mexborough Theatre Guild’s “Pygmalion,” High Green Players’ production this week of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Wath Grammar School Dramatic Society’s ”Arms and the Man.” all the other productions have been chosen with an eye strictly on the box-office receipts.
I appreciate that societies must pay their way—-for example a High Green friend tells me that mention of Shakespeare has frightened away some people they had hoped would attend their Festival of Britain production—but it may be some consolation to know that “Pygmalion” drew the largest audiences in the history of the Mexborough Society.
This, then, has been a solid, unspectacular season. Nevertheless, the general standard of production and playing has reached a high standard and the district has not been without its competition successes. For example, Darfield Dramatic Club reached the finals of the Northern Area festival of the British Drama League and Mexborough Theatre Guild won Mexborough Music Festival drama section and obtained the highest praise at Doncaster Drama Festival — although they did not gain the trophy. Below you will find my own personal choices for this season. Some of the societies I visited last season, I was unable to visit this season — societies will choose the same night for their first nights! — and I was particularly disappointed not to see Penistone Players, Tankersley Dramatic Society, and Hoyland Co-op. Players who were mentioned specifically in last season’s review. Consequently I am making no reference here to the best production by a small society.
In the light of my visit, my choice of outstanding production this season is as follows:
Best Straight Play Production: Mexborough Theatre Guild’s “Pygmalion” (G.B.Capshaw), producer Harry Dobson
Highly Commended Straight Play Productions: Mexborough Green Room Clubs “wishing well” (E. Eynon Evans) produced by Robert Ford; Wombwell thespians “Without the Prince” (Philip King), produced by Jack Guest; and Thurnscoe Amateur Dramatic Society’s “The Paragon” (Roland and Michael Pertwee), produced by William Hardy and J. H. Simpson.
Honourable mention for straight play productions: Wombwell Thespians “Bonaventure” (Charlotte Hastings), produced by William H. Grant; Dartield Dramatic Society’s “The Gioconda Smile” (Aldous Huxley), produced by Tom Illsley: and Mexborough’s Theatre Guild’s “An Inspector Calls” (J. B. Priestley) produced by Harry Dobson,
Particularly delightful individual performances were given by:
Outstanding: Mona Ward (in Mexborough Green Room Clubs “Present Laughter”). Ethel Hatton (in Mexborough’s Theatre Guild “Pygmalion”) and Joseph H Simpson (in Thurnscoe A.D.S.’s “The Paragon.”)
Best Character Roles: John R. Woods (Mexborough Theatre Guild’s “Pygmalion”). Percy Chipp (in Mexborough Green room clubs “Wishing Well”) and Dorothy Leach (in Mexborough Green Room Clubs “The Man from the Ministry.”)
Highly Commended: John R Woods (Mexborough Theatre Guild’s “An Inspector Calls), George Falkous and J Alfred Hall (in Darfield dramatic club’s “The Gioconda Smile”). Hazel I Smith (in Wombwell thespians “Bonaventure”), J Simpson “(in Thurnscoe A.D.S.’s “And no birds Sing”). Stanley Parrish (in Wombwell thespians “without the Prince)”, and Stephen Jones in Mexborough Theatre Guild “Pygmalion”).
Best Performance in a Horrific Part: Harvey Middleton in Wath Theatre club’s “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
No Mention will be made this season of performances by young players as, for the most part plays that I have seen have been acted by adult performers, but I feel it must be a matter of some pride and pleasure to the South Yorkshire amateur theatre that the young Conisbrough actor, R. Peter Elliott has been chosen to take the leading part in Doncaster’s Festival of Britain production “Will Shakespeare.”