When We Are Married
Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : February 1967
Genre : Comedy
Alderman Joe Helliwell
Councillor Albert Parker
Lighting and Sound
'When We Are Married'
The admission cost for this production was 3/6 for adults and 2/- for children.
Wythall Dramatic Society whose high standard of acting has over the years made their productions adn eagerly-awaited local theatre night out, are with their next presentation returning once more to comedy with the famous J. B. Priestley play "When We Are Married".
The play set in 1910, tells of the joint Silver Wedding Anniversary celebration of three couples, all respected citizens of a small Yorkshire town. A secret fro the past revealed to the husbands of the three couples at the start of the party causes an amusing series of situations and complications which earn the play its description of a "rip-roaring comedy".
This production, to take place on February 16, 17 and 18, is the first of three productions during 1967, instead of the usual two.
F.A.K, Redditch Indicator
Above Average Level of Fun
Fun or not, members of Wythall Dramatic Society certainly have the wherewithal for putting over comedy.
Their treatment at Woodrush School of “When We are Married” is brisk, breezy, and maintains an above average level of fun.
J. B. Priestley’s play concerns the confusion over whether or not a priest who married three prominent citizens of a Yorkshire town and their wives 25 years ago had already conducted legal ceremonies.
All six principals, Gerry Solomon (whose Alderman Helliwell was particularly good), Irene Price, Stanley Girling, Jack Parramore, Estelle Shutkever, and Valerie Archer, wring every laugh from the situation.
It is worth noting, too, that not once does one wince at the North Country accents. But it was pity that the denouement on the first night ended on a such a shambling note.
G.B., Birmingham Mail
Last week, Wythall Dramatic Society successfully exploited of J. R. Priestley's comedy, "When We Are Married," in playing with liveliness and at a brisk pace.
The play might not be graded as classic theatre, but in exciting plenty of audience reaction simultaneously with inspiring performers' enjoyment, I consider it has much ingredient of public entertainment. Therefore, it is a good box office, the criteria of amateur budgeting.
Three supposedly happy couples meeting to celebrate 25 years of marriage are quickly thrown into confusion upon being informed of the doubtful legality of the joint ceremony. Especially as the husbands are "big men at chapel": for dignity is threatened and civic leadership is stripped of its pomposity. Few situations on stage, and off, are funnier to bystanders than those where public figures are reduced from self-erected pedestals and ego is scattered.
In his novels as well as his plays Priestly draws his character's true to life. The dialogue of this play has reality and down-to-earth observation as the author takes the mickey in a hanky-panky manner and introduces candid exchanges between man and wife when the "bondage" of marriage seems to have been lifted. This exampled beautifully as the once henpecked Herbert Soppitt asserts his authority on domineering Clara.
The contrasting types in the three couples was excellently shown. A smug and complacent aldermand, the mean councillor of many parts and ambition, and the more restrained plain Mr. Soppitt. All played by Gerry Solomon, Stanley Girling, and Jack Parramore respectively in a fashion which carried the plot along on an entertaining plane.
Their counterparts added to the projection as Irene Price, Estelle Shutkever, and Valerie Archer translated their roles with dismay, verve and changing mood. The North Country accents appeared to contribute to the atmosphere of the Yorkshire community.
The work of the sextet could hardly be faulted, so competently did they grasp the requirement and consistently reveal it to the onlookers.
When this play was written and first produced, the servant Ruby's exclamation "bloody hatchet" was (I think) intended as a punch line of her dialogue. It was completely lost on Friday's audience because two characters had earlier used the epithet. Tinkering with the script seldom improves on an author's intention, while repetition diminishes the impact.
No one personage emerges from this play as outstanding. It provides a collection of character studies which, "When we are Married" still gives to audiences.
The personage of Henry Ormonroyd, press photographer, is a case in point. It offers a contrast to the affability of the dignitaries as the alcoholic capers furnish what little action has been supplied in the play.
Bob Aldridge gave to the bibulous representative of the Press a stature of comedy and confusing lines which produced laughs. Dorothy Girling was an adequate and garrulous house-keeper who puts things in their right perspective, while Ann Girling showed promise, with some reticence, as the maid servant.
Gerry Smith played the part of the organist called to order for alleged romanticism in a fashion which suggested newness to the stage. He walked into the home with a cigarette, which the producer should not have permitted, and anticipated his entrance by being at the door as it was opened by another. Instead, he should have been in the hall waiting to be called.
Sybill Parr was a worldly type as she showed Lottie Grady intelligently in complicating the marital bliss. This was another engaging contribution.
I have known the part of the Rev. Clement Mercer to have been produced as strictly comical, but Ivan Castle was directed to play it straight. It is all a matter of opinion, but it seemed the lack of mannerism detracted from the impact.
Jill Cobill needed a little more confidence and stronger voice in the role of Nancy, sweetheart of the organist, but that will come with experience.
This was a competent company, seen in a series of amusing predicaments. Players who revelled in the opportunity at Woodrush County Secondary School at they were admirably directed by Stanley Girling whose own impersonation lost nothing by his joint responsibility. In fact, I enjoyed his Councillor Albert Parker as much as anything in this likeable collection of jocularity.
F.A.K., Redditch Indicator