A Letter From the General

Date 11th November 2016
Society Woodland Players
Venue Our Lady of Lourdes School, Kingwood, Bristol
Type of Production Play
Director Geoff Iles
Musical Director -
Choreographer -

Report

Author: Dee Way

Congratulations to you all on your 40th Anniversary!  That is a great achievement.

Thank you for your kind invitation to visit your recent production of this play, a story of a Catholic mission station in the Far East that comes up against spreading revolution in the 1950s.  This threatens not only the nun’s way of life but also the children they care for.  Hence the play demands some quite raw emotion amongst the nuns and a sense of threat from the soldiers who come to the mission.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of drama.

The box set depicting the common room of the isolated jungle mission was very well set up, with clay walls, strip wood blinds, cane chairs with crocheted cushion covers, oil lamps, bookcases, covered table with a covered jug on it and a cane set of drawers.  A large crucifix hung on the back wall, where a double door led out to the jungle and view of the mountains, beautifully painted on the backcloth.  A side door stage left led to the nuns’ quarters.  The sounds of the jungle were really good and helped to create an expectant atmosphere within the hall.

The costumes for the show were highly authentic, with the white nuns’ habits and the soldiers Captain in a good jungle uniform. The casual clothing for the Stiltons was good, with good observation of the typical colonial dress of the time. I particularly liked the appearance of a hot climate by giving Captain Lee beads of sweat, with gold dust on his skin.  I liked the detail of Sister Magdalen’s dirty apron when she came from the kitchen!

The stage lighting for the show was well handled on the whole, although I did think that lower lighting could have been used when the scene was in the evening.  Also, as the set was the same throughout the play, lighting could have been used to good effect to create different times of day, different moods and to highlight the drama of the piece.  It was a pity that some of the lights backstage could be seen through the black legs and under the stage area.  Perhaps some extra thick cloth would cure this.  The changes to the scenes, such as lighting lamps, worked very well.

The direction of the play was good and the entrances and exits make sense – quite tricky with so few options.  I really liked the use of the double doors upstage, and the different areas suggested offstage by the direction in which people left. The moves were sensible and added interest to the action.  However, the acting was key to this production.  It is quite a wordy play, so the variation of delivery was essential to the story being told well.  The interaction between characters was well handled and the denoument was touching, so the production worked very well overall.