Pillar to Post
Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : March 1964
Genre : Comedy
A comedy is again the choice of Wythall Dramatic Society, who go on stage at the Woodrush School. Wythall, next Thursday, Friday and Saturday with “Pillar to Post” – the first play to be produced by a woman.
She is Peggy Foster, who has directed some 18 Midland plays and has played several leads at Wythall.
The group admit that they are sometimes accused of being “in a groove” with comedy. The answer that they can always fill the big hall for three nights and finish with a cash balance – as long as they make their audiences laugh.
They are not alone. But some enterprising organisations can usually, if only to widen their players’ experience and to cater for minority taste, slip more adventurous work into the programme now and again, subsidised by the lighter stuff.
Unknown, Birmingham Mail
Laughter In Wythall Production
Make ‘em laugh: that’s Wythall Dramatic Society’s policy. And that is why they have chosen “Pillar to Post,” described as a light comedy by John Waterhouse, for their current production at Woodrush School, Hollywood.
There is hardly enough good material into this play about two postmen and their encounter with two thieves to make a full-length offering.
It needs a rather broader, brisker treatment and more developed technique of playing to compensate for its inadequacies.
For all this, it commands a warm reception and has some notable redeeming features, like a slapstick up-and-down a stepladder with buckets of water sequence that is slickly enough executed to be very funny.
The acting generally tends to be too matter-of –fact for this type of play, but Cliff Gadsby as Ernie – “Jug ‘ead” to his father – has some very good moments that show a flair for “business” and visual effect.
Roger Mitchell’s performance as O’Flaherty, one of the mystery visitors to the village, is a fairly polished piece of work.
All the rest of the playing in Peggy Foster’s production displays marked ability, but the whole leaves me, at least, wondering if this was a choice that allowed the group to do themselves justice.
J.D., Birmingham Mail
Polished Work by Wythall Society
Wythall Theatre Society gives the impression of being a long established group, but it was only formed six years ago.
There were no teething troubles when I visited the group for the first time last week, and members tackled the latest production, “Pillar to Post” with the assurance and polish born of long experience.
Producing for the first time, Peggy Foster emphasized what a valuable asset she is in this particular role. The production fairly raced along with a smooth, almost professional finish.
The play obviously appealed to the audience-one obstacle overcome-but some skilful timing and good characterisation were needed to bring it off successfully. Especially in the last act the production could have degenerated into boring slapstick – happily the players never fell into the trap and kept the production on an even keel.
Where did Cliff Gadsby learn to fall so neatly? I was constantly astonished and full of admiration by his agile antics which were well matched by his acting ability. He gave an excellent all round performance which demanded a great deal of skill.
Equal honours go to Estelle Shutkever and Jack Parramore. The former was a tower of strength throughout the production and the latter gave some of the most amusing moments in the play when swinging on the light shade!
They are baked by a capable supporting cast. A feature of the production was the excellent handling of minor roles, notably by Gerry Smith and Roger Mitchell. Accents were reasonably authentic.
This comedy by John Waterhouse is so different from the sophisticated “Present Laughter” by Coward, that I don’t think that any accusations of being in a groove can be levelled.
Unknown, Solihull News
Wythall Excelled Themselves in a Flawless Production
There is only one thing that goes down better with an amateur theatre audience and that is a good comedy performed really well. So it was last Friday. I saw a good comedy – Pillar to Post, by John Waterhouse, and it was performed by Wythall Dramatic Society.
The production, at Woodrush County Secondary School last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, was to my mind flawless. In production, casting, actors’ portrayals, setting and movement I have never seen better.
The Wythall Society has given me good entertainment on every occasion I have seen them, but last week they excelled themselves. To stage a good play is a great help, and this was a good play, but even so it has to be performed well to get the most out of it- and Wythall did.
The story revolves round the Drinkwater household – Mabel (played by Estelle Shutkever), her husband Albert (Jack Parramore) and their son Ernie (Cliff Gadsby).
Albert is a postman and Ernie is a telegram delivery boy. Their neighbour Horace Truefoot is also a postman.
At the time that there have been five post office robberies in the area, Mrs Truefoot (played by Dorothy Girling) accepts two lodgers for a couple of days, but finds she is only able to accommodate one. Mabel steps in and takes the other one, but it at Ernie’s expense – he has to sleep on the sofa.
Now Ernie has a girl friend, Mavis Ormerod (played by Anne Eccles) and while they are out one evening they have an argument. Mavis goes off and leaves him, but comfort comes in the shape of Sonya Le Roy who he brings home with him.
Albert and Horace are at home when they arrive, and within minutes they are telling her the complete lay-out of the post office even down to the details of kicking the safe in the right place to open it.
Later the same evening, with Ernie on the sofa, the lodger, together with Mrs. Truefoot’s lodger, comes in, and the two of them discuss the lay-out of the post office, and how they intend to enter etc.
Ernie (known to his father as “Jug’ed”) decides he has found the post office robbers so his father and Horace decide to capture them single handed doing the foul deed. So they stake out in the post office while Ernie takes Sonya out for the evening.
The inevitable happens – the two lodgers are post office detectives who immediately suspect Albert and Horace who have hidden themselves in a telephone kiosk. Ernie goes out with Sonya and they pick up two friends at the back of the post office. Jug’ed however, wraps the car round a pillar box, knocking out his three passengers, and so catches the robbers.
It is hard to single out any performance. The three Drinkwaters were all marvellous. Estelle Shutkever was playing a bigger part than I have ever seen her play – and how well she did it. She had the role of a domineering battle axe of a mother and wife off to perfection.
Cliff Gadsby ( a new name to me) filled the part of the fanatical bodybuilding idiot admirably. I think he must have had a few bruises by the end of the show, for he had a vase broken over his head by his girlfriend, had his face slapped by his mother, was knocked out by the lodger, had tools dropped on his hand by his father, and fell from a step ladder – to mention a few of the ills that beset him.
I have never been to Yorkshire, but Gerry Smith and Jack Parramore could easily have been Yorkshire postman, they were so natural.
In the supporting parts, Dorothy Girling was a treat to watch, as was Roger Mitchell as the Irish lodger Mr. O’Flaherty.
Anne Eccles only has a small part that sustained very little comedy but she got the most out of it. Bob Aldridge was Mrs. Trueman’s lodger and that completed all the speaking parts.
All, that is, with the exception of Sybil Parr as Sonya. We did not see much of her with regard to the length of her part – but literally we saw quite a lot of her, stripped down to bra and panties after a drink had been spilled over her dress. Last time she was the “dish” who wanted information, and with acting like that you could not help but give it her. She was superb in the whole of her performance – even down to “knocking back” a pint in seconds.
Nearly every detail had been watched. Every accent was delightful (including Sybil’s who sounded like the Mother in Mother’s Pride): the newscaster on the television could easily have been Richard Baker: and the water that had to get spilled was always spilled in the right place and over the right person.
Just one little thing. When the curtains opened I saw a plate lodged on the pelmet over the window. “That could be dangerous if the door slammed,” I thought. The door did slam. And down came the plate. I would have thought Wythall had put on enough plays to know that flats are never secure enough to have things placed against them – everything must be held.
Apart from that, congratulations Wythall, I enjoyed every minute of it.
M.L.D., Redditch Indicator