Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : February 1981
Genre : Thriller
Night Watch a Winner
The versatility of Wythall Dramatic Society appears to be boundless.
In the past it has tackled comedies, romances, even musical shows and last week it launched into the realms of horror with a real "nerve twister" and emerged wholly triumphant.
To its presentation of Lucille Fletcher's "Night Watch" no higher accolade can be accorded than to say that it held the audience enthralled from start to finish.
An absorbing play with a good strong plot, it gave ample scope for the talents in which the society is so rich.
Leading the cast was Val Archer who gave the superb performance always expected of her and which she never fails to deliver.
As the young wife, mentally disturbed by a tragedy in the past, she brought both high drama and pathos to her role as she alternated between terror at what she insisted she had seen through the window of a neighbouring house and despair at the disbelief with which her allegations were received even by the police.
This was a truly great performance and an artiste who can literally carry the audience with her.
Equally impressive was Gerry Solomon as the husband, outwardly sympathetic but fast losing patience with his psychotic partner. Mr Solomon, apart from the spoken word, is an expert in the art of action and his every move was beautifully timed and thus completely natural.
Estelle Shutkever also gave a highly polished performance as a houseguest who, it soon became apparent, had more than passing, interest It her friend's husband and plans of the pair to send the unfortunate wife to a mental institution wove a sombre spell.
So the plot unfolded and the tension built up steadily until the story reached its terrifying and unexpected conclusion.
Producer on this occasion was Willa Hislop who must be congratulated on the "taut" atmosphere she managed to induce through out.
Although set in New York, one feels she was wise not to insist on, her performers adopting a strong American accent. To maintain an unaccustomed tongue faultlessly for over two hours would have imposed a considerable strain on the artistes as was a little obvious in the case of Helga the maid, played by Angela Smith.
Although her acting ability was never in doubt, I did not find her German accent realistic. Indeed, at one point I wondered whether it was part of the plot that she was perhaps only pretending have to a foreign nationality.
The entire cast worked together admirably. Sybil Parr was excellent as the rather "zany" neighbour who brought a breath of light relief when the tension was becoming almost unbearable and Beryl Linforth was cool and relaxed as a psychiatrist is expected to be.
A thriller on an amateur stage and with limited amenities is not an easy thing to produce but WythaII Dramatic Society grasped this challenge “with both hands".
The result was success with a capital S. "Night Watch" was billed as a spine chiller and it did just that.
Unknown Reviewer, Local Newspaper 1981
Wythall Dramatic Society's latest production, "Night Watch", a thriller by Lucille Fletcher, gave Val Archer a splendid opportunity to display the wide range of her histrionic talents. This she certainly did in the part of Elaine Wheeler, the wife who was disturbed mentally as the result of an earlier traumatic experience.
As her husband, Gerry Solomon gave a first class performance in a less spectacular role, while Estelle Shutkever, as Elaine's best friend, practised such admirable restraint that one did not appreciate her significance to the plot until the play was drawing to a close.
The minor characters gave competent performances, though Sybil Parr was occasionally guilty of inaudibility.
The production, directed by Willa Hislop, was in the best traditions of the Society, with the timing well-nigh perfect.
Perhaps the setting, a room in New York apartment, left something to be desired, for the visiting lady psychiatrist's observation, "What a charming room!" hardly rang true. And the front of stage couch placed with its back to the flickering fire gave an initial impression of unreality which, fortunately, was soon obliterated by the excellent quality of the acting.
Miss E. Holden, February 1981
Accent on the Sounds of Night
You really cannot beat a good suspense drama for packing in the audience on a cold, wintry night.
With this one, Wythall Dramatic Society has made a good choice to match the talents of its members, and prove a certain financial success at the same time.
The histrionics are laid on good and hard as the audience is left wondering right until the final curtain just who is setting up whom.
Val Archer resists the temptation to overplay Elaine Wheeler, the wife who sees bodies where non appear to exist and seems set on a one-way ticket to the psychiatric hospital.
Gerry Solomon lends fine support as John Wheeler-dealer husband, and Estelle Shutkever is suitably calm and collected as nurse Blanche Cooke.
There is a convincing portrayal by Sybil Parr as Curtis Appleby, the local newshound whose "hobby is murder," but Jack Parramore needs to be a more convincingly harassed Lieutenant Walker.
A pity, too, about those American accents that vanish half way through the production. Straight English would have been far better.
The setting in the living room of a New York City town house is superbly set up by designer Ken Gibbons and the excellent lighting helps to add to the steadily mounting suspense.
Praise to for the sound effects man who has a field day with police car sirens, gunshots, dogs barking and jets taking off.
Roy Roberts, Local Newspaper 1981