Thomas Hardy – Adapted by Matthew White
Where and When
21st – 24th May 2003 @ The Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne
The story takes place in a rural community in Dorset. Bathsheba Everdene, a young, spirited farm-owner, is loved by three men; Gabriel Oak, her stoical, devoted shepherd; William Boldwood, a neighbouring farmer, whose regard borders on obsession and the dashing but irresponsible Sergeant Troy. Bathsheba marries Troy but, hearing that Fanny Robin, his previous lover, has died in childbirth, he disappears and is presumed dead. Boldwood’s subsequent proposal is accepted by Bathsheba, but Troy reappears to claim his wife. Boldwood shoots Troy and is consequently imprisoned. Gabriel, who has remained constant to Bathsheba throughout everything, proposes to her himself and is finally accepted.
- Jacob – Colin Pile
- Bathsheba Everdene – Yvonne Henley
- Gabriel Oak – Paul Dodman
- Mrs Hurst – Jan Singfield
- Liddy Smallwood – Jan Stevenson
- Jan Coggan – David Pile
- Joseph Poorgrass – Joe Brooks
- Mr Boldwood – Dave Williams
- Fanny Robin – Tracey Nicholls
- Sergeant Troy – Tom Williams
- Villagers – Barry Baynton
- Carolyn Hewitt – Caroline Uwins
- Jackson Ellen – Meredith Tyson-Brown
- Director – Tony Feltham
- Company Stage Manager – Barry Baynton
- ASMs – Jackson Ellen and Meredith TYson-Brown
- Costumes* – Carolyn Hewitt
- Properties – Caroline Uwins
- Make-up – Clare Downs
- On The Book – Helen Martland
- Set Construction – Bob Feltham and Bob Singfield
For the Tivoli Theatre
- Theatre Stage Manager – Steve Charters
- Lighting & Sound – Russell Parker
- Sound – Don Sherry
*Costumes by Eclectia Theatre Costumes
There’s a nice example of subliminal advertising in the Wimborne Drama poster for the next production of Far From The Madding Crowd.
Matthew White has adapted the clasic tale of passion, jealousy and love for performances at The Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne next Wednesday to Saturday. And Tony Feltham has used a photograph of Horton Tower (with spring lambs) on his publicity material. Even if it only rings vague bells, they may be of the Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp film version of the story. The tower was used for the cock fighting sequence.
Far From The Madding Crowd tells the story of the headstrong Bathsheba Everdene arriving in Weathersbury to take up residence in the delapidated estate she has inherited. Trying to do the best for her farm and her own life, she becomes involved with three men, the dependable Gabriel Oak, the wealthy Squire Boldwood and the handsome young cavalry officer Sgt. Troy.
One she takes for granted, one she toys with and one she desires. But she takes no heed of the effect she has and their reactions to her, as the tragedy of this powerful story unfolds.
Yvonne Henley plays Bathsheba, with Tom Williams, Dave Williams and Paul Dodman as the three men in her life. The Wimborne Drama production is at 7:45 from Wednesday to Saturday next week.
They pulled it off.
Wimborne Drama’s production of Far from the Madding Crowd at Wimborne’s Tivoli Theatre was an ambitious project, but it worked.
It goes without saying that Thomas Hardy’s work is much loved in the Wimborne area, if nothing else because of the strong local connection. The author lived at Lanherne in The Avenue for a short period and Horton Tower featured in the cock-fighting scene in the 1967 screen adaptation.
The film starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch is a hard act to follow, but Tony Feltham, who has been a member of the club for 20 years, deserves congratulations for his directorial debut.
The required frequent change of scenes could have presented problems but there was an effective solution. An empty stage became a sheep filled field, a country house or a flower filled wood simply by the projection of photos on a screen at the back of the stage. In addition, cast members subtly moved pieces of furniture when the lights dimmed.
The main cast members, Yvonne Henley as Bathsheba, who was loved and admired by three men of contrasting character, Dave Williams as Mr Boldwood, Paul Dodman as Gabriel Oak and Tom Williams as Sergeant Troy, were all excellent portrayals, but on this occasion, I would particularly like to congratulate three actors in smaller, yet important roles.
Joe Brooks, veteran of 50 productions for Wimborne Drama, stole the stage on several occasions with his portrayal of Joseph Poorgrass, a simple soul with a liking for the odd glass or three.
Jan Stevenson is frequently cast in the role of a servant – on this occasion she was Liddy Smallwood – but she does it with great panache and with a subtle humour.
Thirdly Dave Pile, a relaxed and confident actor was definitely on form as farm worker Jan Coggan.
The production was well attended, and remarks I overheard as I left the theatre were all positive. Well done Wimborne Drama.
Dramatic story can’t fail to grip
THOMAS Hardy’s vividly descriptive prose easily conjures up for readers the world his characters inhabit, and film adaptations have the undoubted benefit of location shooting.
A stage production has neither of these things, so in that respect Tony Feltham’s directorial debut had the odds stacked against it from the beginning.
I had no complaints with characterisation, as Bathsheba Everdene (Yvonne Henley), her suitors Sergeant Troy (Tom Williams), Mr Boldwood (Dave Williams), Gabriel Oak (Paul Dodman) and those surrounding them came convincingly to life.
However, the bare stage and numerous scenes, with props going on and off, became irritating an distracting. Back-wall slides depicting season and location changes worked well up to a point, but there was never any clear indication of the time span between scenes which would have helped make the story’s progress clearer. And there were several occasions when on-stage conversations became all-too private – Gabriel Oak, in particular, seemed loath to share his words with the audience.
Costumes, too, were not always as in period as they should have been, with some rather too beautifully tailored trousers and shiny shoes. And where were Sergeant Troy’s army-issue long-johns when he undressed prior to his faked suicide?
But nonetheless I found myself gripped by the dramatic storyline.