THE sight of Sister George astride her moped (a dining chair in real life) poop-pooping down the road, greeting the residents of Applehurst moments before her demise courtesy of a 10-ton truck will remain an abiding memory of this play.
Four talented actors brought to life the period in the early Sixties when attitudes were starting to change, with some of the stuffier values of post-war Britain being overturned and even the BBC being aware of the need to modernise.
The original play, written in 1964 by Frank Marcus, was a brave mix of farce, black comedy, and cutting-edge commentary on same-sex relationships, in an era when homosexuality was still illegal. Lesbianism is not overtly stated but the complex relationships between the main characters hint strongly that men are not relevant here.
Joe and Joy Haynes jointly produced and directed the four-act play, which was bravely chosen by Joy to allow for an all-woman cast list. With the support of the fantastic Wargrave Theatre Workshop backstage team they created an enjoyable and quirky production.
The directors’ notes refer to the shifting dynamics of the relationships within the play which do leave you wondering just who is manipulating whom? The actors were extremely well cast and had learned their considerable parts to perfection. Sister George was strongly played by Liz Paulo who led us from bullying drunk to vulnerable victim during the four acts. Memories of her plaintive “moos” as the lights went down will linger and her performance was greatly appreciated by the audience.
We know Emmajane can do comedy but here she had a challenging part which called for her to be vulnerable, manipulative, childish and peevish — all of which she did extremely well. Her Stan Laurel was eerily convincing.
Emma James played the enigmatic Mrs Mercy Croft with great panache (Radio 4 oozing from every pore). .
Some of the best laughs were created for, and by, Madame Zenia played by Jo Cole who maintained her accent and persona to perfection and the pace of the play zinged when she was on stage. All four actors put in strong performances which, with the static but well-dressed set by Pete Charles and team and Sixties clothing created an interesting and enjoyable evening’s entertainment. Special mention should go to Kelly Doward for her first foray into stage management — she may never act again!
The Killing of Sister George, Wargrave Theatre Workshop