Drayton Players - Oxfordshire
Review of The Importance of Being Earnest
By Henry Hawes - of NODA
On Friday night I saw the revised version of Oscar Wilde's play and I can say .... this was an excellent presentation of this play with good pace throughout with thoughtful positioning, movement and good characterisations.
Richard Webber  (LANE/MERRYMAN) - 'Lane' was a good characterisation of a long suffering, lugubrious butler - Good movement with excellent use of the props. As 'Merriman', Richard presented us with a totally different character, here we had the rustic, aged retainer - Two excellent presentations ~ Well done,
Jim Cottrell  (JOHN WORTHING J.P.) -  
I have combined these two performers together as there was nothing to choose betvveen them, both gMng superlative performances, They had developed the correct characterisations giving an excellent contrast between the two. Diction, facial expressions, voice characterisation and movement was all of a high order ~ Congratulations to both of you
Catherine Webber   (LADY BRACKNELL) ~ This, I think, in one of the more difficult parts for an actress to play, having been done so many times by the 'Greats' so it is very easy to fall into the trap of copying, but I was pleased to see you put your own interpretation on the role. You certainly looked the part with good movement and body posture, but! felt you needed more haughtiness coupled with a more authoritative voice. It was a pity you had a number of prompts on the night of my visit as this spoilt the flow of your dialogue.
Kate Winchester  (GWENDOLEN FAIRFAX) - Kate had developed a good characterisation of Gwendolen, making a good contrast with Cecily - You moved about the stage confidently and retained your character for long periods when you had nothing to do or say - no easy task - Your facial expressions were good with a good delivery of the dialogue.
Jayne Henderson  (MISS PRISM) - A nicely controlled performance. Most Miss Prism's are inclined to go 'over the top' in this part which spoils it, so congratulations for not falling into the trap. The change from Governess to a lady with a weak-knee'd infatuation for the man of your dreams was very well done.
Felicity Jackson  (CECILY CARDEW) - What a lovely characterisation. You were 'Cecily' - You used your eyes and facial expressions to perfection, even to your hands which were most expressive. You appeared confident in the role with good stage presence and used the stage very well - Congratulations.
Anton King  (REV. CANON CHASUBLE D.D.) - This is a nice 'Cameo'­character/comedy role which Anton grasped with both hands, being well 'over the top' as demanded in the role - You were suitably self-effacing in front of 'Lady Bracknell' and completely 'love-sick' towards fMiss Prism' -Well done.
Peter Jackson  (DIRECTOR) - This was an auspicious start into the realms of directing and it was obvious that a lot of thought and hard work had gone into the production. It had generally been well cast and the performers well versed in their various characters. Movement and positioning within the confines of the stage area had been well devised so that a balanced stage was seen at all times. The performance had pace from the outset with well pointed lines and I was most impressed with the diction and projection by the cast as I heard every word - Congratulations.
Georgia Alston  (WARDROBE) - Georgia had researched her characters very well and ensured they appeared on stage in costumes which depicted well the period it was set in. It was also good to see that attention had been paid to the correct style of gloves, hats, shoes ete; an item so often missed.
Simon Coates & John Bradford - (LIGHTING) - Overall the lighting plot was good but I would have liked to have seen more contrast in the lighting to indicate the interior and exterior scenes. I have no idea what type of lighting rig you have at your disposal but it appeared that most of the lighting came from lamps suspended from supports on the hall walls which resulted in large shadows being projected onto the scenery and which needed more lighting over stage to eliminate this as it can be distracting to the audience.
Jim Cottrell  (MAKE-UP) - This aspect appeared natural on all the performers, which is a good indication that it is right and stood up well under the stage lighting.
Peter Bradley - (MUSIC & SOUND) - The selection of incidental music played before curtain up and for the scene changes was appropriate and
helped to set the scene.
Fred Stevens & Team - (STAGE MANAGER) - This appeared a well managed stage with the scene changes being made swiftly and silently.
John Freeman (PROGRAMME) - A nice programme of the right size. It contained all the relevant information together with items of interest. I liked the cover which had been printed with a sepia tint.  I was also glad to see that the adverts had been placed together in the second half of the programme so that you didn't have to delve through numerous adverts to find the cast list..
Felicity Jackson & Jean Fernyhough - (SET DESIGN) - This was an innovative set design consisting of just five hinged flats which was placed upstage maximising the space on the small stage. The wings were dressed with black curtains and this format proved most effective in all three acts. The painting of the flats had been well carried out with good perspective.
Sue Stevens & Team - (FRONT OF HOUSE) - Easily identifiable, friendly and welcoming to their audience.
Thank you for inviting me to review your production and for your hospitality, Gareth's loss was certainly my gain as It was one of the better presentations of this play I have seen. May I wish you all success with your future productions.

Henry Hawes - NODA Representative - Area 13 - Deputising for Gareth Jeremy - Area 12

Sept 2007