The Drunkard

Date 22nd February 2019
Society Walberton Players
Venue Walberton Village Hall
Type of Production Play with music
Director Emily Dadson
Musical Director Richard Barnes

Report

Author: Jose Harrison

From start to finish this was a hugely successful production from the moment we were asked to join in by booing at the baddy and ‘ahhing’ at the lovers. Don’t be mistaken, this was not a pantomime but a brilliant melodrama quite outstandingly performed by an enthusiastic cast of fifteen all kitted out in their stunning period costumes. Every member of the cast entered into the spirit of the play making full use of the simple stage set and acting area. The show flowed from one scene to another without a pause, each one made clear to the audience with written signs carried on and placed out front telling us exactly where we were while singers performed in typical melodrama style accompanied by Richard Barnes on the piano. Emily should be very proud of this riveting production.

All that would have been wasted if the cast hadn’t been so good, each portraying their very varied parts so well.  It is impossible to mention everyone by name but, as in modern parlance, we say ‘in no particular order’ I must congratulate Jason Evans (a villain of the deepest dye). His evil expressions and lascivious laugh spurred the audience into action every time he appeared and his ability to remember all his dialogue was remarkable. Peter Allday (The hero with a lesson to learn) seemed to have as much if not more dialogue to remember and, thanks to the demon drink, some massive changes in personality. I have never seen a more convincing drunk performed on stage. Jeanette Fido (An eccentric spinster) had her eye on the hapless hero and became almost as evil as the villain in her efforts to ensnare him. Throwing off her supposed age she skipped around the stage like a teenager. Chris Chewter (A simple rustic) was certainly rustic, with a great accent but perhaps not all that simple. He managed to keep out of trouble rather well and at the same time sorted out everyone else’s problems. And now, last but not least, Laura Thornett ( he sweet heroine) was every inch the maiden in love who sadly became the poor abandoned penniless wife with her young daughter to support.

All the other principals and those not so principal gave excellent performances making for the end product which was hilarious. I went away with my jaws aching from smiling having laughed, booed and hissed my way through this delightful production. I can imagine the rehearsals must have been riotously funny. The laughter from the audience must surely have been magic to the actors’ ears. Well done.