The Sorcerer

Date 18th May 2013
Society Betchworth Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Betchworth Village Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Alison Cooper
Musical Director Ian Stone
Choreographer Alison Cooper


Author: Jon Fox

Alison Cooper's innovative production was clearly set in the 1950s judging by the ladies costumes and the occasional dialogue reference.   One or two of the men's costumes were less obviously 50s though but the effect was good overall. The set was simple and sensibly minimal, as befits a village hall with a small stage.

The show opens on the village green but  "if wet, in the village hall," according to a poster on the pros. arch. To evidence the inclement weather, Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, played throughout with natural authority by Peter Grove, appeared holding an umbrella.

Skilful stage setting during the overture set the mood of the show and great use was made of actual bell ringers in the hall for "ring forth ye bells."  That one of the ringers took "umbrage" and stormed off during the ringing caused much amusement.  It must be said that much of the principal singing and acting was of a professional standard.  Jenny Clarke as Aline Sangazure and Sarah Esser as Mrs. Partlet have trained professionally and their acting and singing were both superb.  Hugely enjoyable portrayals of Alexis Pointdextre by Neil Williams, Dr. Daly by David Brown and a Cockney J.W.Wells by Peter Thomas added lustre.   Linda Slater as a lovestruck Constance Partlet and Pam Patch as the classy Lady Sangazure were both well cast and believable in their roles. Jane Johnson as the notary also did well.

The chorus were cleverly used to add important depth to the village life.   I particularly enjoyed the ladies tea drinking, which reminded me of the ladies in Last of the Summer Wine.    A comedic cameo played by John Mole as the deaf old man whose hearing aid was causing chaos added to the merriment.   Good use of lighting by David Ames in the incantation created the necessary eerie atmosphere. Having drunk the love potion the villagers fall asleep under the spell for twelve hours and a few brave souls evidenced this by "sleeping" right through the interval in full view of the non-potion tea drinking audience!

The second act opens with the villagers awakening and falling in love with the most unsuitable people with chaotic results and much hilarity.   When the hapless Mr. Wells was "loved" by the Lady Sangazure I laughed out loud.  The quintette, "I rejoice that it's decided" was  beautifully sung and the music throughout, under the highly experienced command of Ian Stone was of a high order.   In order to undo the spell, J.W.Wells from No. 70, St. Mary(Simmary) Axe has to yield up his life. But how does he die, you may ask?  Why, a suicide pistol to the temple with a "BANG" flag attached, followed by him legging it down the aisle and out the front of house. Pure genius!    This production was a great credit to Alison Cooper, Ian Stone and everyone involved with B.O.D.S