White Sheep of the Family
Venue : Woodrush High School
Date : November 1964
Genre : Comedy
Janet, The Maid
James Winter, JP
Pat Winter, His Daughter
John E. Clarke
Peter Winter, James\'s Son
Angela Preston, Peter\'s Fiancee
Assistant Commissioner, John Preston
Was Wythall's Choice of Play The Right One?
One must pose the question: did Wythall Dramatic Society choose the right play when they decided to present "The White Sheep of the Family" at Woodrush School last Thursday, Friday and Saturday? My answer would be "No".
We have come to expect a high standard of performance fro the company, and this we received. Every member of the cast made the most of his or her part, but there was little to make of any of them.
There is one exception - the vicar, Jack Parramore was the only one to have a real character part in which he could lose himself completely; but he was the only one to do anything but straight acting; and he was the only one who created sustained laughter.
This was a comedy, you see, actually described as a "felonious comedy" and while the audience does not expect to be rocking with mirth as they would while watching a farce, they do expect more humour than was evident last week.
I stress once again, the cast were not to blame - it was the play. There were great chunks of dialogue without a glimmer of a funny line. It was not until the vicar came on stage that the laughs came, and it reached the stage on Saturday when the audience shuffled about with expectancy whenever he made an entrance.
The plot took a long time to warm up and when it did, the ending was pretty obvious. It involved a family of crooks - James Winter (Maurice Simpson), Alice Winter, his wife (Dorothy Girling), Pat Winter, their daughter (Estelle Shutkever) and Peter Winter, their son (Cliff Gadsby).
James is one of the best burglars in the business, Alice happens to pick up things while she is shopping, Pat has the fastest finger in the area and Peter makes the best forged notes in the land - in fact a very "talented family".
Peter, however, becomes engaged to "a member of the public" i.e. a girl who is law abiding; actually she is the daughter of Assistant Commissioner John Preston of Scotland Yard.
Peter decides to go straight for her sake, but everything ends happily as she turns out to be a first-rate safe cracker. And that is it.
Apart from the maid (Eileen Ross) whom the family is training into their ways and the vicar who makes little contribution to the story, John Clarke as Sam Jackson is the only other criminal involved and it is he who disposes of the loot.
Jack Parramore was excellent as the doddery, virtually senile old Vicar, and it was good to see Estelle Shutkever looking as charming as she did. We are used to seeing her as the "daily" or the equivalent, and I am sure she would agree with me, she always has more to 'get her teeth into' in those parts than she did last week.
In fact that goes for all the cast. They were all well cast, nobody looked too old or too young for their part, except perhaps Dorothy Girling who (and I do not think she will mind my saying this) did not look old enough to be the mother of children in their 20's.
I once though Wythall had been too ambitious with one of their productions, and so did not extract everything from the play. This time it was different. The raised a laugh with everything they could but did not reach their usual standard of entertainment. The comedy was so thin it warranted a good plot and the plot was so thin it warranted more comedy. Quite a vicious circle!
M.L.D., Local Newspaper
A synopsis found in the programme:
"What happens when Peter Winter, a brilliant son with a promising future in his father's family business of high-class crime, announces that he is going on the straight and narrow path?
Tonight's presentation reveals how the outraged family reacts to the sudden treachery in their midst. Inevitably, the cause of Peter's defection is a woman. And it is she who, effecting and entry into this audacious household in the most surprising circumstances, unwittingly helps to bring "white sheep" Peter back into the family fold."