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Sheridan's "The Rivals" - March 1951

Maurice Hobden

THE only photo in my possession from school days is the cast of a joint production, with girls from our sister grammar school, of Sheridan's "The Rivals". Note the caretaker, Mr Parkinson, on the extreme left keeping a wary eye on his dog Rajah, front left-centre stage, who had a walk-on part (the brute never could remember his lines). The unexpected appearance of the dog on-stage gave an immediate spontaneity to the action that drew more applause than any of the actors! The head-master, known generally as "The Old Man", is backrow sixth from the right. My function was lighting, electrician and gaffer. For some reason I missed the photo-session. We must thank Phil Ray for providing an original program with details of the casting and, more recently, Lily Fenner for the close-up photo.

The Company

The Scholar Players

Back Row L-R - Lily Fenner, Ross Wells, Audrey Helyer, Donald Burgess, John Bird, Rosemary Sharp, Mr Bradshaw (Head Master), Cedric Andrews, Mary Burgess, Paul Bishop, John Ford, Stephen Lusted.

In Front of NRB - John Davey.

Middle Row L-R - Mr Parkinson (Caretaker), Richard Field, John Humphry, Colin Message, Ann Scott, Mr Austin (Music), Mr Euston (English), Mr Hoggins (Physics), Mr Gillam (Art), Shelagh Geraghty, Philip Ray, David Sandles.

Front Row L-R - F E Wood, Chris Hayles, Geoff Ellis, Pat Brown, Stephen Parris, Jerome Abbo, Beverley Tarlo(Halstead), Alan James.

The Scholar Players


The Rivals

Ross Wells and Lily Fenner

Lily Fenner and Ross Wells

The Cast
ThomasS. Lusted
FagG. Purbrook
LucyLily Fenner
LydiaMary Burgess
JuliaAudrey Helyer
Mrs MalapropRosemary Sharp
Sir Antony AbsoluteJ. Bird
Captain AbsoluteC. Andrews
FaulklandD. Burgess
AcresH. P. Bishop
Sir Lucius O'TriggerR. Wells
DavidJ. M. Ford
BoyJ. Davey

Click here to see the report by a drama critic in the 1951 Barbican

The Rivals - The 1933 Production

Starring Hugh Tayler as Captain Absolute

From Mel Tayler

The 1933 Production

Mel Tayler, Hugh Tayler's daughter, has found a photograph taken of the 1933 cast of the play. Unfortunately there is no cast list or programme but it is clear that Hugh Tayler took the lead role of Captain Absolute.

It says something for the self-confidence of the Neville Bradshaw and the staff, that they could mount such a production at such an early stage in the life of the school. They had to make a lot of the equipment from scratch and very few pupils were older than 16 years. There were no girls available, but that was not a problem, for it was considered to be in the best tradition of the early English theatre that women characters were played by young boys. Of course, many of the costumes were hired from theatrical costumiers and the lighting equipment from the Strand Electrical Company as in 1951 [and pretty lethal it was too], but curtains, staging, etc, were made locally.

A Report from the Barbican 1933

On Saturday and Monday, April 1st and 3rd, performances of Sheridan's comedy "The Rivals" were given in the School hall. Anyone who has read the play will realise that it presents a good many difficulties, especially to a boys' school, and Mr. Bradshaw the producer, is to be congratulated on a very successful presentation. With one exception, the parts were taken by the boys who acquitted themselves extremelly well, especially the "ladies," both in their acting and diction.

Mr. Tayler who took the part of Young Capt. Absolute made a very attractive hero, particularly in his scenes with Lydia (D. Buller), who gave a really charming performance. Sir Anthony, Jack Absolute's choleric father, was very ably portrayed by J.W. Cosstick, and although physically dwarfed by his son, he succeeded in making us feel his moral superiority. Perhaps the most completely satisfying performance was given by G.Gravett as Mrs. Malaprop. One of the most amusing scenes was that in which Sir Anthony and Mrs Malaprop discuss the education of young Iadies, when every 'lapsus linguae' was given just sufficient emphasis.

Among the other principal characters mention should be made of Julia (D. J. Collins) who made one feel that 'she' was much too good for her rather lugubrious lover Faulkland very ably presented by W.S.Eade. R C.Tribe as Bob Acres and D.B.Barker as Sir Lucius Trigger made full use of their opportunites in these 'character' parts, particularly in the duel scene which was highly entertaining. Of the servants, Lucy and Fagg gave the best performances, both of whom showed excellent promise, in fact it was hard to believe that Lucy was not a member of the weaker sex. The cast, which had no 'tail' was completed by C.N.Hall as Thomas, P.Killick, the maid, J.Cull, the boy and C.H.Francis as David whose red hair and waistcoat added colour to the scene.

The staging and dresses were very harmonious and effective, the changes of scene call for special comment as they were quick and silent, not often the case in amateur productions. One would like to congratulate the stage manager Mr. Larwill, and all who assisted with this side of the production. After such a promising beginning, one may look forward with pleasant anticipation to the school's future activities in the dramatic sphere.