Where and When
April 1957 @ The County Modern School, Wimborne
Set on a roof garden on a day in the summer of 1952, the play tells the story of Helen and Henry Mansell-Smith who have been happily married for 11 years – but things start to fall apart when she mistakenly thinks that he, far from being happy, is deeply and severely disturbed in his subconscious. Acting on the advice of a crank psychiatrist she becomes convinced that the only ‘treatment’ for poor Henry’s condition is to arrange for him to have an affair at once. As in all true farce, he of course has arranged to do the same thing for Helen.
- Mr Mansell-Smith – Frank Burley
- Mrs Mansell-Smith – Thelma Dryden
- Dr Protheroe – Douglas Waterfield
- Briggs – Ronald Small
- George Foster – Paddy Brooman
- Audrey Foster – Hazel Drewett
- Miss Pat – Elaine King
- Producer – Leonard H. Mottram
- Set Design and Decor – Douglas Treharne, Hilda Coles and Elizabeth Hervey-Murray
- Lighting – Reginald H. Wilkinson
- Properties – Daphne Young and Pamela Mottram
- Stage Manager – Hilda Coles
- Prompt – June Aitken
- Chief Steward – Graham Mitchell
- General Business Managers – Leslie Young and Jack Drewett
- Refreshments – Mrs L. H. Mottrram.
Most wives take an interest in the activities of their husbands but very few would authorise a man-servant to keep constant watch, make notes, and report his findings every few hours. Such is the plot of The Happy Marriage a comedy in three acts by John Clements which was presented by the amateur Wimborne Drama Club at Wimborne County Modern School on Friday and Sarurday.
The entire play takes place on the roof balcony of a large modern house somewhere in London. When the curtains open on the first act, Briggs, the manservant, is observing his master, Mr Mansell-Smith through the studio window and painstakingly writing in his little book. Mrs Helen Mansell-Smith arrives and announces that she has called in the assisitance of Dr Protheroe, a psychiatrist who gives lectures on mental healing, to give his opinion on her husband’s illness.
The doctor tells Mrs Mansell-Smith that the only way to satisfy her husband’s irresistable impulses is to transfer his affection to another woman. This astounds her but she resigns herself to the fact and makes up her mind that her best friend, Audrey Foster, must effect the cure. Unknown to his wife Mr Mansell-Smith has received the same advice and decides that George Foster (Audrey’s husband) must help him.
The Fosters come to dinner that evening and the experiment begins but is not a success. There is a row which reduces both wives to tears. The Fosters leave and the Mansell-Smiths are still bickering when the play ends.
Mr and Mrs Mansell-Smith played by Frank Burley and Thelma Dryden, both of whom used the stage to its best advantage. Mrs Dryden’s voice carried well and the character of the highly strung wife reached over the footlights. Douglas Waterfield, as Dr Protheroe, gave a convincing performance.
One of the smallest roles in the play was Briggs, the manservant, played by Ronald Small. He stole the show with his facial expressions and cockney accent. Blustering George Foster was played by Paddy Brooman, a well-known Wimborne actor, and his wife, Audrey Foster by Hazell Drewett. Elaine King took the part of Miss Pat, Mr Mansell-Smith’s secretary.
Producer was Leonard H. Mottram and decor was by Douglas Treharne, Hilda Coles and Elizabeth Hervey-Murray. Lighting effects were by Reginald H. Wilkinson, and properties were organised by Daphne Young and Pamela Mottram. Stage manager was Hilda Coles and prompter was June Aitken, Graham Mitchell was chief steward and general business managers were Leslie Young and Jack Drewett. Refreshments arranged by Mrs L. H. Mottrram.
Full marks to this ‘marriage’
For slick dialogue and inoffensive sophistication, John Clement’s comedy, The Happy Marriage, would be hard to beat and Wimborne Drama Club’s presentation of the play at Wimborne County Modern School last weekend evidently delighted local audiences.
Apart from slight dragging in the first act, Leonard Mottram’s production was polished and completely satisfying.
Thelma Dryden kept the laughs rippling by her portrayal of Helen Mansell-Smith, the over-solicitous wife tragically concerned about her husband’s non-existent neurosis; and Frank Burley gave a carefully-studied performance as the husband, Henry.
Donald Waterfield’s Dr. Protheroe was effective, if somewhat ponderous; and Paddy Brooman and Hazel Drewett teamed splendidly as the Mansell-Smith’s self-sacrificing friends, George and Audrey Foster.
Ron Small scored points as Briggs, the manservant; and Elaine King supported well as Henry’s secretary, Miss Pat.
Douglas Treharne, H. Coles (who stage-managed) and Elizabeth Hervey Murray deserve a pat on the back for the very attractive setting and decor.
Daphne Young and Pamela Mottram coped with properties; Reginald L, Wilkinson was responsible for lighting; and June Aitken prompted. Leslie Young and Jack Drewett shared the duties of business management; Graham Mitchell was chief steward; and Mrs. L. H. Mottram served refreshments. Mrs E. R. King and Mrs. E. D. Young were joint secretaries.
Members of Wimborne Drama Club have enhanced their reputation for entertainment with their presentation The Happy Marriage, a three act comedy by John Clements.
Mr. Leonard H. Mottram was the producer.
Frank Burley and Thelma Dryden played the married couple, Henry and Helen Mansell-Smith, and Paddy Brooman and Hazel Drewett were their friends, George and Audrey Foster, to whom their love was to be transferred.
Donald Waterfield delighted, and other players were Ronald Small and Elaine King. Decor was by Douglas Treharne, H. Coles, and Hervey Murray, and Reginald L. Wilkinson, lighting. Stage manager, H. Coles; properties, Daphne Young and Pamela Mottram; prompt June Aitken.