Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : October 1979
Genre : Period Play
Alderman Josiah Malin
PC Thomas Dougan
Inspector Nathan Arkwright
Lady Honoria Cumberleigh
Captain Ada Leyland
Local Newspaper 1980
One of the major dramatic challenges facing this production of Norman Holland's play depicting the struggles of the Suffragette movement happened eve before the curtain went up.
Wythall Dramatic Society lost their leading man halfway through rehearsals when every member of the group had already been pressed into action either on stage or behind the scenes - or both.
Despite an appreciative audience, on the evidence of the first nitght it is questionable whether the players do justice to their undoubted effort and enthusiasm with the choice of such an indistinguished play.
To succed it requires subtle and at times rigid direction to cull the few embryo character parts from the mass of mediocrity often delivered at near breakneck speed.
It is an awesome task at such a level, but full marks for the well-dressed interior-exterior split set.
Chris Walder, Local Newspaper 1979
Somewhat Dull Militants
A WORK dedicated to the inventive and courageous who fought to obtain female franchise - this was the way in which Wythall Dramatic Society described its most recent production at Woodrush High school.
Entitled "The Militants" by Norman Holland and directed by Val Archer, it portrayed the conflict a dogmatic alderman and a group of suffragettes which, to his outrage, including members of his own family and staff.
The play is excellently dressed with costumes of the early 20th century being faithfully reproduced and the cast, as always being word-perfect in their roles but the action had some difficulty in getting off the ground.
The plot itself was a slender one and probably because of this the performers appeared to lack some spontaneity which is usually present in their work - indeed here and there was almost a measure of over-acting.
Timing also was, on occasion not quite perfect, particularly in the scene where the alderman's wife disclosed that she was the hitherto secret organisers of the suffragette group. This should have been a moment of high drama but somehow it got rather lost In the general babble of on-stage conversation and it took the audience a. little space of time to appreciate the full significance of this revelation.
However, apart from these minor failings, the production provided good entertainment with some thought-provoking dialogue well delivered.
Mike Beamish was specially impressive as the alderman, dominating each scene in which he appeared and in effective contrast was the quiet suavity of Ken Polton as the prospective Liberal MP who eventually gave up his candidature out of sympathy for the suffragettes.
Estelle Shutkever, as the women's leader, was forceful and convincing also was Willa Hislop as her daughter, and each member of a substantial cast worked hard bring life and reality to a difficult and slightly dull play.
Particular mention must be made of the set which had been designed cleverly by Ken Gibbons to show the exterior and, the interior of the alderman's house simultaneously and the latter with its Victorian furnishings and impedimenta could not have been bettered.
P.K.S., Local Newspaper 1979