Where and When
26th – 28th April 1962 @ Church House, Wimborne
In this unique thriller that has playgoers gripping their seats, Sir Charles Jasper is an eccentric who delves into the mystical. He is due to inherit two million pounds on his fortieth birthday and plans to celebrate the occasion with a party on the stage of the St. James’ Theater, supposedly haunted because of several mysterious deaths years ago. The merriment is interrupted by Maurice, the Sir Charles’s hitherto missing nephew and the recipient of the legacy in the event of his death. Maurice, who claims to be a novelist, induces his uncle to write what he claims to be a chapter for his new book. It is too late when it dawns on Sir Charles that he is writing a suicide note for he has just drained a fatal drink concocted by the nephew. In the third act, the birthday guests employ subtle and ingenious tactics to force Maurice to confess.
- Miss Groze – Thelma Dryden
- Cavendish – Arthur Brooks
- Mrs Wragg – Daphne Young
- Jimmy North – Geoff Butterworth
- Beatrice Jasper – Patricia Wood
- Mrs Arthur – Margaret Williams
- Sir Charles Jasper – Sam Fawcett
- Maurice Mullins – Russ Guillaume
- A Woman – Elizabeth Anthony
- Director – G. D. Butterworth
- Stage Manager – Clifford Cowling
- ASM – Edmund Henbest
- Lighting – Dennis Curran
- Properties – Jenni Meek and John Anthony
- Prompt – Jenni Meek
- Wardrobe – Miss Baxter
Drama club needs more men
New young producer for Wimborne Drama Club, Mr Geoff Butterworth says the club is handicapped because more young men are not coming forward to take part in the productions.
Mr Butterworth produced and took a leading part in the club’s production of Emlyn Williams’ “A Murder Has Been Arranged” which was staged for three evenings at the Church House, Wimborne, last week.
“I found it very difficult doing both jobs” he said “and I dont think I shall do it again. We have few young males and I just had to take part”.
Mr Butterworth has been in the Wimborne area for about four months. He was connected with a Shropshire drama group for several years and was in London University’s drama group.
Last weeks play was more ambitious than the average production. The first two nights attracted small audiences but Saturday’s house was full.
The play, a three act thriller, provided ample scope for nine members of the cast, but on the first night far too many lines were forgotten, and prompter Jenni Meek had to work hard.
Otherwise the play, especially the last short, sharp act, was given considerable punch by these amateurs. The production was an enterprising change from the homely comedies that too often appear.
Taking part were : Thelma Dryden, Daphne Young, Geoff Butterworth, Patricia Wood, Margaret Williams, Sam Fawcett and Russ Guillaume. They were ably supported by Arthur Brooks and Elisabeth Anthony.
Back stage were : Clifford Cowling, Edmund Henbest, Dennis Curran, Jenni Meek, John Anthony and Miss Baxter.
Production Lost Poise
Small, but appreciative audiences greeted Wimborne Drama Clubs production of ‘A Murder Has Been Arranged’ in Church House last week. The company had obviously worked hard to achieve the standard they did.
The action of the play takes place on the deserted stage of an allegedly haunted London theatre. The events centre aroμnd the eccentric Sir Charles Jasper, an expert on the accult, who has decided to hold his birthday party on the stage to test the legend of the theatre. The happenings of, the night certainly achieve that end – although it is doubtful whether Sir Charles himself was in a position to appreciate the point.
Emlyn Williams can undoubtedly be accused here of writing an improbable and melodramatic story, but it cannot be denied that it is good theatre and excellent fun for a company of amateurs to produce.
The production started off in an extremely promising way, and experienced players such as, Thelma Dryden in the role of calculating Miss Groze, and Daphne Young as Mrs. Wragg, the cook, did a good job in getting across the details of the plot. Equally at ease was Geoffrey Butterworth, as Jimmy North, the ‘gatecrasher,’ and Sam Fawcett, as Sir Charles.
But in the second act some of the professional effect was lost. This was partly due – on the first night, at least – to missed cues; and two of the major characters – Patricia Wood as Lady Jasper and Russ Guillaume, appeared ill at ease.
It is to the Club’s credit that, they should attempt to try out the talent of their less experienced members, but perhaps unfortunate that they
should have been called upon to carry such important roles. In Mr. Guillaume’s defence it should be noted that he was responsible for bringing the performance to a spine-chilling climax, and his last moments were, undoubtedly his best.
Other good performances came from Margaret Williams as Mrs. Arthur (Lady Jasper’s mother) from Elizabeth Anthony as the stranger who roamed the theatre and from Arthur Brooks, who took the part of Cavendish.
Geoffrey Butterworth’s direction was capably handled, although it might have been even better if it had been possible for him to produce without playing a part as well.
Production staff were Clifford Cowling (stage manager), Edmund Henbest (assistant stage manager), Jenni Meek (prompter), Dennis Curran (lighting), Jenni Meek and John Anthony (properties) and Miss Baxter (wardrobe) Business staff were Anthony All!son, W. Leslie Young, Esme Henbest, Stella Tory and L. H. Mottram.
Thriller Chilled Spine But Had Week Moments
Wimborne Drama Club’s production of Emlyn Williams’ thriller “A murder has been arranged” was a mixture of some of the very best in amateur dramatics and some of the not-so-good. But it was evident that those who saw the performances in Wimborne Church House on Thursday, Friday and Saturday appreciated the company’s hard work.
Emlyn Williams sets his story in the surroundings of an empty London theatre with a ghostly legend. We drop in on a birthday party given on the stage by the elderly and eccentric Sir Charles Jasper and his attractive young wife. It is a tale which is extremely improbable at times but one which offers some very dramatic moments.
The Wimborne company production got off to a very good start. It was apparent that Thelma Dryden in the role of the coldly efficient Secretary , Miss Groze, had done this sort of thing before. Equally at ease was actor-producer Geoff Butterworth as Jimmy North, a bold young party-crasher.
From the effortless scene setting of the first act carried off very well by experienced players it looked as though the club has a real winner. Daphne Young had some very amusing moments in the character of Mrs Wragg, the country-style cook and it was soon apparant that Sam Fawcett was well cast in the role of Sir Jasper.
But the early promise was not entirely fulfilled. The key roles of Lady Jasper and Maurice Mullins the murderer, had been entrusted to comparative new comers and it was soon evident that both parts were outside their range.
Patricia Wood lacked the personality which the part of Sir Jasper’s wife demanded and Russ Gillaume did not impress as “the complete criminal” he was supposed to represent, although it is only fair to add that he did well in the moments of the spine chilling climax. Otherwise he lacked tone and pace.
All praise to the society for trying out the obvious acting ability of those two players but it was perhaps unfortunate that they should have carried so much responsibility in a play which relies to great extent on the difficult characters which they were asked to portray.
Much of the blame for the lack of pace and climax build-up in the latter stages must be laid at the feet of those who “fluffed” lines. Several dramatic moments were spoiled.
A word of praise is due to Margaret Williams who gave a good character study of Lady Jasper’s mother. Also taking part were Elizabeth Anthony as the dumb woman and Arthur Brooks as Cavendish.
The direction by Geoffrey Butterworth was very adequate and the Society are no doubt regretting the fact that his removal from the district will rob them of his services for future productions. His work as producer was all the more creditable in that he was also taking a part.
Production and business staff were Clifford Cowling, Edmund Henbest, Dennis Curran, Jenni Meek, John Anthony, Miss Baxter, Anthony Allison, W. Leslie Young, Esme Henbest, Stella Tory and L. Mottram.