Relative Values

Date 8th April 2022
Society Wellingborough Technical Players
Venue Castle Theatre Studio Wellingborough
Type of Production Play
Director Teresa Webb
Written By Noel Coward


Author: Nigel Hancocks

One of the enjoyable parts of becoming the new Regional Councillor for NODA East Midlands and following the total shut down we have all experienced due to the Covid pandemic is the opportunity to travel around the region and witness dedicated amateur dramatic groups, like a hibernated organisation, blossoming onto the stage and hand to the audience a 'professionally' produced production. Without doubt, this is just what the Wellingborough Technical Players presented to me and the rest of the audience with their excellent interpretation of Noel Coward’s ‘Relative Values’.

The Castle Theatre Studio is well served with its adjacent car park that put me in a good mood prior to access to the original Corn Exchange that has been very well converted with a suitable auditorium and presentation area.

Prior to the commencement of the performance an announcement was made. This informed us that Don Lucas who was originally to be played by David Deegan, had to be replaced five days previously by Richard Llewellyn, my sympathies to both of you. A reference to this will be made later.   

Into the play and the introduction was well conducted by Crestwell, the butler and hard working Alice played by Christy Wilson.  Alice was kept very busy throughout as she tidied the set and checked that all props were replaced etc. Crestwell was played by the very convincing Robin Hillman with his exquisite and extensive knowledge of the English vocabulary. In true Noel Coward tradition the plot is forwarded by other members of the cast in preparation for the inevitable twist, always reserved either just prior to the interval or just after.

The complications are hinted on by the darling of the show Mrs Dora Moxton (Moxie) played, with convincing dramatic abilities by Judith Warren. It appears that her long-time subservient love for the Lord of the house, Earl of Marshwood, is about to be totally thwarted by another.  This other will shortly be revealed to be her sister.  Read on!

So to complete the cast, in comes the mother of the house, Felicity, Countess of Marshwood, played convincingly by Di Wyman with 1930s style of overzealous enthusiasm for local irrelevances. Lady Cynthia Hayling was delightfully played by Barbara Allebone and her husband, Admiral Sir John Hayling, played subordinately by Tim Allebone. The Honourable Peter Ingleton, played with feminine charms, by Alex Duncan and (at this stage) Nigel, Earl of Marchwood, played convincingly by Daniel Burrows. There are more to follow.

I have hinted that there is unachievable love for the head of the house by Moxie and when she finds out that her master is going to marry, not only another woman, but her estranged sister (Miranda Frayle), typical Noel Coward complications are becoming more relevant. Enter Miranda Frayle, played very credibly by Ann Chambers with her equally convincing Anglo American accent, who is obviously trying to utilise the unmarried situation to finalise her drag from her ordinary previous existence and diminishing film career, only to be found out by her sister. So just when you think everything is clear, in comes the complication! Entre Don Lucas played by Richard Llewellyn. I have to say that to take over a part of any size or style with five days notice is a the challenge not relished by all. However, Richard not only took on the part but played it with convincing professionalism and an acquired American accent very worthy of a comment. He is the previous lover of Miranda Frayle and is set to regain her and whisk her away from the arms of her intended. A success on all fronts and areas. Congratulations to all.

I always make comments regarding the set and the technical achievements as this is one of my pet considerations. As with much of the amateur field of productions, too much complication is made by building complex box sets with equally complicated transport problems as well. Not in this production. The set was  just what it should be, simple, supportive and convincing to the audience. Very well done team. A lesson to be learnt by both professional and recreational companies.

Finally, may I thank the Wellingborough Technical Players for their hospitality. Congratulations Teresa Webb for an excellent production and I look forward to another invitation in the future.