Comedies of Class - The Bear & Fumed Oak

Date 30th October 2019
Society Cuckfield Dramatic Society
Venue Queen's Hall, Uckfield
Type of Production Play
Director The Bear – Hazell Woodhurst; Fumed Oak – Robin & Izi Gaff
Producer Paul Davey


Author: Kay Rowan

Cuckfield Dramatic Society chose to present two short plays by diverse playwrights The Bear by Chekhov and Fumed Oak by Noel Coward both comedies of their period but totally different in content and structure.  How clever the production team were to utilise the same flats and furniture albeit in a different configuration for each play.  There was sufficient scenery and props to support the action without too many extras.  The Burgess Hill Shed had made some portable scenery – a good indication of cooperation between organisations.

The Bear:  This was an excellent production from beginning to end.  The cast maintained a good pace throughout - emphasising the highs and lows well.  With only three in the cast each one is exposed.  Luca, played by Doug Webb made an excellent manservant delivering his lines as befits his role and in a manner not too obsequious.  Simon Perkins, as Smirnov a retired lieutenant and landowner, entered the drawing room like a blast of the east wind.  He proceeded to pace the stage whilst trying every way to get the money he is owed out of the widow Popova, so sensitively played by Georgia Rushton-Read. 

Fumed Oak:  The cast of four took us through a nail-biting series of scenes to a surprising climax so ably developed on stage by the husband Eric Gow so cleverly played by Vincent Whittaker.  Elsie Gow, akeeping up with the Jones’s’ type of suburban wife, was played by Louise Paton who embraced the role with great aplomb and developed her role alongside her mother Mrs Rockett played by Lorraine Jordan.  She tried hard to be an independent character rather than reliant on her ‘daughter’ and developed suitable mannerisms. The obnoxious teenage daughter, Elsie, was very ably portrayed by Isabel Galvao-King.  The domestic wrangling was eventually brought to an end by Henry making a surprise announcement.  Vincent changed his particularly reticent manner with a burst of decision making at the end which shocked not only the characters but those watching the action

Congratulations to both sets of directors for their thoughtful insights into the style and content of these two diverse plays - both required excellent timing, good knowledge of the script, the ability to develop a theme in both pace and style.  Congratulations to both casts who are to be praised for their hard work and application to developing their roles apparently with such consummate ease.

Cuckfield Dramatic Society should be proud of the excellent production and for the high-quality entertainment they provided for their supportive audience.