The Killing of Sister George

Date 17th November 2022
Society Greville Theatre Company
Venue The Barn Theatre, Little Easton
Type of Production Play
Director Lynda Shelverton and Clive Weatherley

Report

Author: Decia Ranger

Sister George is a District Nurse in the radio series Applehurst. The character is popular with the locals for whom she always has a smile and a wave as she goes about her rounds singing hymns while riding her moped.  In complete contrast June Buckeridge, the actress who plays George, is a bad tempered woman who smokes cigars and is never far away from a bottle of vodka, or was it gin?  She lives with Alice (also called Childie) who is not particularly bright and spends a great deal of time tending to her dolls. She is frequently subjected to June’s verbal and sometimes physical outbursts.  It is pretty obvious from the start that this is a lesbian relationship, although in the 1960’s when it was written, it was probably not acceptable to actually mention the word.

When June learns that Sister George is to be killed off her world is turned upside down.

Lynda Shelverton took the title role and she and Sarah Kingdom as Alice were on stage most of the time.  Both gave good convincing performances of their respective characters.

Marcia Baldry-Bryan was brilliant as Mercy Croft from the BBC who calls round to confirm June’s worst fears, that her character is to be axed.  Her enthusiasm when she tells June she is being offered the title role in a new children’s programme is not reciprocated.  It becomes apparent during the play that Mercy has taken a fancy to Alice but she bides her time until the relationship between June and Alice reaches breaking point, before making a move.

The part of Madame Xenia, the rather exotic downstairs neighbour and a good friend to June, was well played by Gillian Williamson.  Popping in and out with her tarot cards, helping June to look into her future, this was a role that brought a nice light hearted touch to the proceedings.

The set was very well designed with some excellent stage props including a bookcase full of Alice’s dolls and a dining table and chairs from where cups of tea and various cakes and scones were served to visitors. The scenery stage right was unfortunately outside our line of sight. The use of angled flats would possibly have corrected this but maybe it was not an option at this venue.

The production was, for the most part, suitably costumed.  June’s outfit though did look as if it was made up of more modern pieces which didn’t quite seem to fit in with the period.     

Incidental music was good and there were some excellent sound effects on the radio transmission of June’s last show, including the dramatic crash between lorry and moped signaling Sister George’s demise.

So, was it a farce or a same-sex drama?  I note the rights holders describe the play as a dark comedy and I am inclined to agree.  It certainly made compelling watching.

Thank you for inviting me.  We had a very enjoyable evening.