Acting Up in Rye was formed in the Spring of 2013. It’s first production, “A Day of Reckoning”, a comedy by Pam Valentine, directed by Rowena Sterry, was staged at the Community Centre, which was decked out in bunting to create a village fete atmosphere, on 27th & 28th June 2013, to near full houses.
Ethel Swift Carol Gasson
Angela Brownlee Charlotte Eastes
Mavis Partridge Daphne Blattman
Sally Martin Helen Gray
Gloria Pitt Debbie McLean
Pauline Morris Sarah Givertz
Marjorie Organ Fiona Osborne
Geoffrey Morris Peter Challans
Rye has enjoyed, a tradition of Amateur Theatre dating back at least to the nineteenth century. The life of amateur actors has never been easy, not for them the luxury of daily intensive rehearsals rather their day’s work followed by a hasty meal and then off to rehearse for a couple of hours, maybe twice a week. Sometimes they don’t get to be on stage till the dress rehearsal having rehearsed in draughty halls or the director’s front room. Pity the directors too, for they find themselves having to oversee the whole production making sure that the set will get built, the costumes made and the words learnt, while getting on with coaxing the actors to move where they want them. Then there is the worry of people not turning up for rehearsals, they have so many other interests nowadays, and of course there are no understudies if a cast member should be ill. It is no wonder that sometimes plays get cancelled or there is a long wait between productions.
It was therefore reassuring to find myself back in the Community Centre to watch a play being staged by newly formed group ‘ACTING UP’ under the direction of Rowena Sterry, who had chosen her cast mainly from local actors. The play, concerning a village hall committee planning the summer fete and then the day of the fete itself, promised to be a gentle comedy with a cast of stock village characters. The excellent set, reminiscent of the village halls we grew up with before Lottery money got to work on them, looked suitably chilly as the committee began to arrive on a cold January evening. The gossipy shop keeper, the octogenarian deaf-when-it-suited-her, prolific knitter, the distracted vicar’s wife, always anxious about the whereabouts of her husband because he was never far from a bottle, the good soul who had no life because she was caring for her spiteful elderly mother, the shy new school teacher, who was chastised when she revealed that she had accepted a lift on the motor bike of the village bad boy, the rather superior army wife, the hearty, horsey young woman busy ‘be-friending’ the young teacher and finally the vicar himself, tetchy and impatient and obviously in need of a drink. As they bathed their way through a three hour meeting with arguments about whose stall should go where, (and nobody wanting to be next to the toilets), a subtle change came over the play as dark secrets began to emerge and the comedy grew blacker. The day of the fete, with everyone feeling the heat, does indeed become the day of reckoning with revelations of adultery, lesbianism, rejection and euthanasia, not to mention pregnancy, courtesy of the village bad boy. The fact that the shop keeper and the old lady are not surprised or shocked by the various ‘goings on’ is what keeps the laughs coming and one feels that the have probably seen it all before. The vicar, whose affair with the Major’s wife ends when she announces that she is leaving the village, has a moment of redemption when he wisely deals with the sad confession of the daughter who has eased her mother out of this world.
Rowena’s cast gave us well defined characters obviously enjoying their ensemble playing, and it was good to see some familiar faces among them. Sure there were one or two sticky moments when words were forgotten and the pace dropped but I put it down to ‘first night nerves’ and it did not detract from a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Well done Rowena an all your cast.
A DELIGHTFUL DRAMATIC DEBUT
We were treated to an evening of great fun by the newly formed drama group Acting Up very well supported by a full house in the Community Centre.
The production was staged in a wonderful old style Village Hall with a committee of splendidly diverse characters, a lot of thought had gone into the appropriate costumes cleverly co-ordinated by Sarah Givertz.
The excellent acting laid the land for the various threads though the plots leading to the development in the second half, of the truly shocking revelation of the actual “Day of Reckoning”
We anticipate that this is only the first of many exciting an( enjoyable shows to come.