Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Archers actor is glad to see Players’ Maugham revival

THE Henley Players are reviving W Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife at the Kenton Theatre

THE Henley Players are reviving W Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife at the Kenton Theatre next month — following on from the 50th anniversary of the writer’s death last year.

In his day, Somerset Maugham was the most widely read author since Charles Dickens and many of his books were turned into classic films, including Of Human Bondage and The Painted Veil.

Local actor Simon Williams, who is currently wowing Archers fans as smooth-talking but ruthless Justin Elliott, starred in the last West End production of the show alongside Jenny Seagrove 14 years ago, but his Somerset Maugham connections extend much further back.

His father, the stage actor Hugh Williams, narrated the first TV screening of Somerset Maugham’s short story A Man with a Conscience in 1960.

Simon said: “Willie Somerset Maugham was a friend of my dad’s and a big influence on the plays Mum and Dad wrote in the Sixties, notably The Grass is Greener — drawing room comedies with a bit of morality thrown in for the home counties audience.”

Hugh Williams is perhaps best known for scripting the film version of The Grass is Greener starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

Grainne Harling, who is playing Constance in the forthcoming production, discussed it with Simon having seen the 2002 revival and reminded him that he had said at the time it would be a good choice for the Henley Players as it was likely to be popular with their audience.

Simon added that the writing owes some of its style to Oscar Wilde and its language is also comparable to another popular playwright of the era, Terence Rattigan.

“Good writing doesn’t date,” he added, noting that during the 2002 run the audiences had appreciated the argument of the play as well as the comedy.

When asked if he had any advice for the current cast, he said: “The play still speaks to audiences and those audiences will enjoy this comedy of manners because it is thought-provoking and full of great characters.”

He added: “Knowing some of the cast it will be terrific and I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

The Constant Wife will be performed by the Henley Players at the Kenton Theatre from Wednesday, March 9, to Saturday, March 12.

Showtime is at 7.30pm each day, with the addition of a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday.

For ticket details and to book call (01491) 575698 or visit the Kenton’s website at

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