by André Obey, translated by Arthur Wilmurt
Review in the Orpington Journal
Chelsfield Players at Civic Hall present play by French author
On Friday and Saturday 13th and 14th December, the Chelsfield Players gave a performance of “Noah,” a play by the French author, Andre Obey, which, to quote Mr. Wharrier, the adjudicator of the British Drama League Festival, was “well worth seeing.”
In spite of the many disadvantages of the Civic Hall – the chilly and comfortless auditorium, the lack of a cyclorama and the inadequate facilities for a flexible use of the lighting and for fixing the scenery – the performance was very creditable. Mr. Wharrier expressed appreciation of the adventurous choice of play, the endeavours to prevent monotony by varied lighting and changes of scenery, and the technical excellence of the production.
No detail was neglected which might assist in producing the desired effect. In particular the incidental music was well chosen and reflected the mood of the play, and attention paid to details in the scenery helped to produce a convincing atmosphere.
The subordinate characters – for whom there was little scope for individual acting – worked well together as a team and helped considerably in rounding off the general effect. Colin George, “an actor of outstanding ability” as the adjudicator described him, gave a highly successful rendering of the title role. Another outstanding character was Eric Hart, the producer, who took the part of “The Man” at a day’s notice.
His make-up and acting were held to be more effective than in the professional production.
Beryl Sherratt, as Mrs. Noah, gave significance to a part which is normally unimportant. Harold Hart was convincing as Ham, the cynic and mutineer and he was ably supported by Jimmy Dean and Tony Hollands as Shem and Japheth.
The three girls, Ada, Naomi and Bella, destined to marry the sons of Noah and ultimately to be the progenitors of the white, black and yellow races, were played with feeling by Janet Loraine, Evelyn Humphreys and Dorothy Orme. V. St. C. Tomalin, J. Gallagher, Sylvia Brewer, Doreen Frederick, Maud Vincent, Dorothy Higgins and Pamela Hayward played the parts of the animals.
Special credit was given for originality and effectiveness of the costumes and animal masks, which were not hired from a costumier but designed and executed by one of the members, Aida Day. The lighting was under the direction of Messrs. Parker, Winsborough and Tullock; while the effects, which were specially commended, were arranged by G. Jarvis. Mr. and Mrs. J. Taylor designed the scenery, which was skilfully built-up and painted by C. Nash, C. Frederick, J. Dean, H. Ellis and F. Towler. Len Walker, the stage manager, contributed to the success of the performance by his skilful organisation of the scene shifters, which reduced the waits between scenes to a minimum.
Eric Hart, the producer, who received a well-deserved ovation, endorsed the remarks of the adjudicator on the drawbacks of the Civic Hall. He said that N.W. Kent had no theatre suitable for the production of Drama League Festival plays. The Civic Hall was large enough for the purpose, and if the audience would only bring pressure to bear on their Councillors to have the many defects remedied as soon as possible, Orpington might yet be able to fill a widely-needed want.
Noah Colin George
Mrs. Noah Beryl Sherratt
Shem Jimmy Dean
Ham Harold Hart
Japheth Tony Hollands
Naomi Evelyn Humphreys
Sella Dorothy Orme
Ada Janet Loraine
The Man Eric Hart*
The Bear V. St. C. Tomalin
The Lion Jack Gallagher
The Tiger Sylvia Brewer
The Monkey Doreen Fredrick
The Elephant Eric Hart*
The Cow Maud Vincent
The Lamb Dorothy Higgens
The Wolf Pamela Hayward
Producer (director) Eric Hart
Stage Manager Len Walker
Lighting AT Parker, F Wensborough, WA Tulloch
Set Design J&W Taylor
Set construction Cecil Fredrick, E Deane, H Ellis, F Tow
Effects G Jarvis
Costumes Aida Day
* The playbill lists Robin Locke as playing ‘The Man’ and ‘The Elephant’ but the review states that Eric Hart took on the former role “at a day’s notice” and does not mention Locke among those playing the animals, so we presume Locke pulled out of the play entirely.