Happiest Days of Your Life (1967)
Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : July 1967
Genre : Farce
John E. Clarke
The Reverend Peck
Romping Farce to end Season
The admission for this production was 3/6 for adults and 2/- for children.
Wythall Dramatic Society is ending the season on an amusing not with a spirited production of “The Happiest Days of Your Life.”
The farce romps along at a fine pace, picking up quickly after a slow start. Good timing produces some hilarious moments.
Estelle Shutkever adds sparkle and polish to her performance as Miss Whitchurch, Sybil Parr comes over very well as the hearty games mistress.
Ted Pedvin produces the play which ends tonight at Woodrush County Secondary School.
P.L., Local Paper September 1967
This orgy of over-acting knocked ‘em in the aisles
"The Happiest Days of Your Life" by Wythall Dramatic Society was an orgy of over-acting… it was corny… It went on… so long… that I nearly' split my sides laughing!
I've seen a few farces by an amateur company, but this was new. They took the ridiculous to the utterly, absurd - and made a worthy job of it. Corny? Yes, but why not? Our legendary "Batman" has proved what can be made out of corn!
The setting for this farce "supremo" was a B.B.C. "Whacko" type public school for boys called Hillary Hall.
It is just after the fast war and the school has returned to its proper buildings after six years in evacuation.
All is well on the first day of term until the portly head of school "Pond" (John Clarke) receives a telegram from the Ministry that a second school, bombed out, in the war, is to share Hillary Hall for the term.
Through the medium of dramatic irony the audience is kept in fits of laughter until the inevitable discovery that the mysterious "Saint Swithin's" is, a girls' public school!
From here the play shoots off into a variety of sub-plots. We see Estelle Shutkever, as the original 'battle-axe,’ playing the indomitable principal of Saint Swithin's; we see, a hearty "Miss Potter" style mistress called, not inappropriately "Miss Gossage" (Sybil Parr) trying to lure a meek master called "Billings" (Jack Parramore) into wedlock; we see -or rather hear - a pitched battle in the dining: room between the girls and the boys; and also the hilarious efforts of a clottish young master, Dick Tassell (Gerry Solomon) to woo Joyce Harper, a pretty young school mistress.
The main plot, however, revolves around the unexpected visit to Hilliary Hall of four parents. One couple are the doting mummy and, daddy of a frail girl aged 12, who they insist, must - have a delicate and feminine education.
The other couple are the rumbustious parents of a foppish son who want their, lad to be educated in a masculine environment.
The humour is in the frantic efforts of the staff to keep the grizzly facts of co-education from the two couples – both of whom we assume would be horrified to know their child was being educated in company with the opposite sex.
The plot lends itself excellently to the abundance of farcical situations which can be creamed off it.
Of the cast, two players out-shine the others, and for my money were chiefly responsible for the success of the production.
Sybil Parr, playing the hearty mistress "Miss Gossage," was one of them. She was the epitome of the "rally, girls, hockey" mistress with her "Up Roedean" performance.
In an effort to impress "Billings" her rather inadequate and extremely reluctant "beau" – she demonstrates her prowess as a batsman, and nearly knocks his head off!
The other star in this performance was Estelle Shutkever, who plays the bullying principal of St. Swithin's, Miss Whitchurch.
Miss Whitchurch is one of the last bastions of British authority always found, strangely enough, in girls' rather than boys' schools. AIways the master of the situation she can, with the use of a bellowed monosyllable, petrify the weaker male sex. Estelle Shutkever who is, incidentally, a former professional actress, put her best into the part.
The rest of the cast, without exception, gave creditable performance and must be well pleased with their efforts.
Although the men were perhaps rather overshadowed, I will say that John Clarke who played headmaster "Pond" was polished, and so was Stanley Girling who played Edgar Sowter the bombastic father of the milksop pupil.
"The Happiest Life," is a. well-known farce by John Dighton, and a successful film has been made. The Wythall Society's production was produced by Ted and held in the school theatre at Woodrush County Secondary School. It was the society's 22nd production to date, and must rank of their best to date.
D.L., Local Newspaper 1967