Venue : Arden Hall
Date : May 1984
Genre : Drama
This production was part of the Redditch One-Act Play Festival 1984 (11 June to 16 June 1984) and The Arden Hall One-Act Play Festival, (promoted by Castle Bromwich Theatre Group) 18 June to 23 June 1984.
Equal Terms by Jill Hyem
Adjudicator's Report (One Act Play)
By Margaret Morley, June 1984
Performed at Arden Hall
This is a sensitively written realistic drama which exposes and explores the emptiness of most relationships and the masks that people wear to hide their inner loneliness. The relationship between the two women changes drastically in the course of the play and this must be indicated in the acting sometime before it actually begins to happen. This is a very interesting play which demands tremendous energy and concentration from the two actresses.
The set was, visually, rather dull, which in some ways it was meant to be but greater care was needed to be taken to create the sort of home in which the dead parents would have lived and collected around them for so many years. It was visually dull, in fact, rather than theatrically dead and desolate.
The upstage central entrance limited the movement of the two actresses and meant that many of their most important lines were played from, an area of the stage which was rather dead to the audience. In addition, we needed some indication of the fact that the kitchen was off stage right, which we didn't actually get.
The costumes were extremely well chosen, they contrasted well and told you a great deal about the personalities and social status of the wearers.
The music chosen to begin the piece should, in fact, according to the author's instructions, have been played on the recorder, which is then taken up by Imogen. I felt that the music was rather lyrical and that something perhaps rather more poignant would have been appropriate.
The director was sensitive to the needs of the play and recognised the inherent danger in the two-handed production, that is the need to achieve considerable tension between the two actresses, and the fact that the pace must be varied from within their relationship, because there is no other actor or entrance to change that pace. This was, in fact, very well controlled and there was affective balance between the voices of the two women, both from the point of view of pitch, volume, tone colour and use of pause.
The grouping and movement worked, on the whole, very well, apart from the times when the actresses needed to use their upstage central entrance, when several of Imogen's most important moments were, in fact, upstage by the door with her back to the audience.
Now the back is, in fact, I think theatrically, very interesting, but in that particular position a lot of impact was lost. There was occasionally some repetition in particular groupings or patterns of movement and this, again, is a danger in the two handed play.
The two actresses worked together very closely, and with great sensitivity and they showed the balance in the relationship very skilfully indeed.
This was a very sensitive, physical portrayal of somebody who has just passed through a considerable personal trauma. She projected very well the tension and isolation of this character and her indignation at the invasion of her privacy.
The actress had to be very silent for long periods or time but at no point did her performance ever become dull or lifeless, one had a very intense sense of her inner life, that is her thinking, her feeling that was going on beneath the silence.
She displayed a wide range of emotion, ranging from anger, from some bitterness with herself, an over her credulousness in the relationship with the other man, to hopefulness and finally deep pity and tenderness. She has the ability to suggest on stage that ideas are coming fresh to her. Her voice was sometimes muffled when working from upstage, especially with her back to the audience, which is, of course, a considerable danger.
But overall, this was a very fine performance with a nice sense of growing confidence and strength, which was shown not only in her increasingly open and confident movements, but in the growing strength of her voice.
This was a very well judged performance indeed, but I would like the actress to look again at the precise timing and inflection of the final line.
Achieved a very effective contrast to Imogen. From the moment of her determinedly bright entrance, when one had, very early, a sense of the unhappiness under her brittle and brilliant facade. We anticipated the revelation that aid in fact later come.
Her early delivery tended perhaps to be all rather on the same level, that in her volume needed finer grading, but once she had passed this point we were given a performance of very great sensitivity and skilled.
This was a very finely judged performance with some outstanding moments of theatre, namely the actress' portrayal of her pain in losing her son and, in particular, her description of the absolutely awful first night of her marriage, and the widening gap, from that time, between her and her husband. The combination of deep unhappiness and bitterness that she projected was very moving indeed.
The overall achievement of this group was high. It is a very well written play but it does have several potential dangers, and on the whole, these were avoided with great skill.
I would like to thank Wythall Dramatic Society for their obvious care and hard work, and for showing us a level that a good dramatic society can achieve.
Presentation: 11 out of 15
Production: 32 out of 35
Acting: 37 out of 40
Overall: 9 out of 10
Margaret Morley, Adjudicator\'s Report
Equal Terms by Jill Hyem
Adjudicator's Report (One Act Play)
Adjudicator Unknown June 1984
Performed at Palace Theatre, Redditch
Originally written as a radio play, than televised, this piece depends almost solely on the ability of the 2 performers to draw us in to feeling we are almost eavesdropping on an intimate and painful self-realisation.
In short there are no theatrical gimmicks to sustain the piece. Acting alone will make it work. This is quite a challenge, and obviously means any society putting it on, needs to have 2 actresses very well suited to the parts, who can also achieve a very detailed working relationship on stage.
This play obviously held the audience - a big compliment in such a wordy piece. I have judged it by high standards and found it just wanting, because I have the impression this is a very strong team, that if everything were worked out just right could produce something really rather special. Perhaps more thought could be given to the physical and emotional presentation; dig deep if you want to find truths to surprise an audience, and make it as personal as possible.
There was a good feel to the furnishings. It is important in this play not to let the furniture be too individual. We must know nothing about the taste of the parents or it distracts from the present. It was well worked out and the props and packing cases were all suitable. The placing of the furniture however, made it inevitable that the blocking would end up being a bit one-sided. Another chair or stool on the stage left of the sofa would have given the producer more options.
The costumes were very appropriate and suitably contrasting. It was a pity, that make up did not make the 2 actresses' faces even more so. Imogen could have done with a paler, more haunted, more shut away look. Even now that she is out of her institution, the location is still a basement.
It was also a pity not to start with Imogen playing the recorder herself, after all she is playing under orders not because she is musically gifted!
This was a very neat and technically well-ordered production. It was just a little too impersonal. Imogen was never quite haunting enough, Mary, never quite disturbed enough. Both these performers might have felt more pressure from the other one, if they had played more of it closer together. Emotion dissipates over a distance and you have to force a reaction, rather than finding it naturally.
It was also a neat production of what the text asks for, but just missed what is unstated - the pauses, the threats, the feeling of being pressurised, almost attacked with only 2 performers there was a need to get at something very personal which was just missed.
Here were 2 very strong, technically proficient actresses, who looked as if they had an excellent understanding of theatre but had not quite 'personalised' what was special and different to this particular play as opposed to any other.
To my mind played it a little too strongly. I could not quite believe how recently she had been institutionalised because she could not cope, and hence the need for there to be a Mary at all.
The part needs this feeling of hopelessness if the change of roles is to mean anything. She was just too fluent with her questioning, too ordered with her answers. Longer pauses, less vocal bitterness might have promised a clue.
The real problem I think was that the actress in this part has a very strong sense of the dramatic - I could see her as a strong Lady Macbeth - and allowed her sense of technique to intrude on her portrayal of a very re-pressed character.
Has to play mainly off what Imogen offers her. Her own contribution could have been even breezier and more forced.
She has a splendid voice for the part and the right looks, but she just failed to catch the two extremes of the part - confidence in her social role hiding the real despair. She needed to break down more completely at the end. It was just too neatly done, not quite enough of the character exposed.
Again, a very proficient actress needed to be challenged a little more and made to behave a little more personally and unusually.
Play 7 out of 10
Presentation 15 out of 20
Production 24 out of 30
Acting 34 out of 40
Total 80 out of 100
Unknown, Adjudicator\'s Report
14th Drama Festival at Arden Hall
The Castle Bromwich Theatre Group held their 14th Drama Festival at Arden Hall, from Monday to Saturday 18th-23rd June 1984. The event sponsored by the Midland Bank proved a tremendous success with most evenings becoming a sell out to witness the seventeen competing entries plus a special non competitive performance by the Castle Bromwich Theatre Group of their production of "Who was Hilary Maconochie", by James Saunders, the play that had won the all female cast two awards at the recent Tamworth Arts Festival.
The adjudicator for the event was Margaret Morley who trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and is now a lecturer in voice and acting at the Worcestershire County Drama Centre, Kidderminster College and is running the Theatre Foundation Course there.
Local entries included "Press Cuttings" by George Bernard Shaw and performed by the Coleshill Drama Group which won for Producer and Director Moira Smith the "Best Producers Trophy". Other awards went to the Anvil Theatre Company for their production of "Dumb Waiter" by Harold Pinter, directed by Frederick Granville, which won for the two man cast of David Vince and Colin Leach the winners trophy for the best overall production and the award for the best actor (Colin Leach).
The Wythall Dramatic Society scooped four awards with their production of "Equal Terms" by Jill Hyem, directed by Gerry Solomon. The cast of Val Archer and Estelle Shutkever were awarded the George Evans Cup (Runners up, best overall production), the Alpha Trophy for the best all Womens Team, the Whateley Cup for best actress (Estelle Shutkever) and the Presidents Cup for best supporting performance (Val Archer).
Unknown, Gazette, July 1984