Where and When
3rd – 6th September 1997 @ The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne
There were days when the Father could see and days when the Father could not see in this tale seen through the eyes of the perennial Son as viewed from the trellis surrounded, as if for protection, by an enormous garden. The tale grows in turns and twists upon allusion and reversals, all crisply dramatic and really not so comical as at first glance. We see the Son in his childhood with a friend named Reigate and a teacher named Noah, then as a man who has been told all he is meant to feel sudden freedom growing up, the end of dependence the step into the sunlight when no one is taller than you and you’re in no one else’s shadow. Lonely.
- Father – Joe Brooks
- Son – Paul Dodman
- Mother – Val Mantle
- Elizabeth – Ann Pond
- Son, as a boy / Daniel – Wayne Dewey
- Ringer Lean / Thong / Film Director / Mr Morrow – Simon Jackson
- Headmaster / George / Cameraman – Barry Baynton
- Ham / 1st Judge / 2nd Judge / Sparks / Doctor – Jeremy Austin
- Japhet / Boustead / Soundman – Tony Willmett
- Matron / Miss Cox / Doris / Social Worker – Carolyn Hewitt
- Mrs Reigate / Miss Baker / 1st ATS / Witness – Jan Stevenson
- 2nd ATS – Chrissie Wathen
- Reigate / Jonathan – Alex Dunnachie
- Iris / Jennifer – Lucy Rossiter
- Reigate’s Sister / Emily – Laura Hayes
- Director – Richard Neal
- Stage and Properties Manager – Chrissie Wathen
- Lighting and Sound Director – Nick Watkins
- Costumes – Enid Davies, Margaret Pope, Penny Scotford and Sheila Smith
- On The Book – Barbara Trebilco
- Caller – Matthew Gill
- Advertising Sales – Tony Willmett
- Publicity – Geoff Whipp
- Programme and Poster Design – Richard Neal
- Properties Assistant – Heather Scott
Ian Murray – Daily Echo
John Mortimer’s description of his father, as set out in the programme, is someone thought of as an eccentric, prone to alarming rages, but with a great deal of common sense. Unfortunately he does not appear in this production. Who does is a rather kindly man, prone to wry and incisive comments who appears surrounded by loved ones feigning outrage at his merest gesture.
Which is a pity because Joe Brooks puts in a fine performance as the father. Paul Dodman did well as the long-suffering son, in awe yet exasperated by the man who has had such a profound effect on his life. His narration took us from childhood to manhood, through his father’s blindness to his death.
Val Mantle was the stoic mother and Ann Pond was equally as good as Elizabeth the daughter-in-law who couldn’t quite accept this dysfunctional family. Bright spots were any time the children were on stage, with Wayne Dewey as young son, Alex Dunnachie as school pal Reigate and Laura Hayes and Lucy Rossiter adding zest to the proceedings.
Jan Stevenson taking several roles was especially good from the remainder of a good cast.
Although some scenes were rather thrown away – the divorce court cross-examination a case in point – the total was well worth watching.