For this year’s annual concert, Chipping Campden Grammar School presented ‘Androcles and the Lion’ by George Bernard Shaw, and a selection of songs by the school choir.
Although the play is a comparitively short one it has a cast of over forty: it deals with the conflict between the early Christian religion and the Roman pagan system of religion, its main theme being the attitude of the Christians who were thrown to the lions to provide a ‘Roman holiday’ as opposed to that of the Roman Emperor and soldiers.
Both sides are depicted in the characteristic Shavian manner of sarcasm and ridicule throughout: such humour and even wit as there is in the play is of a mild and simple kind, the persistence of Shaw’s sinister skit on religious beliefs of any kind being obvious.
But whatever the merits or otherwise of the play as such, the characters played their parts with a high degree of perfection. No prompting was necessary and the costumes, scenery and general management were admirable. DavidEvans as Androcles and Janet Mitchell as his wife, Mengaera, in their meeting with the wounded lion, played wonderfully by Jerzy Biegus, in the jungle, provided adequate prologue to the play.
The various main characters from Caesar (John Payne) downwards, were faithfully portrayed: Richard Southam was a convincing Roman Captain enamoured of the lovely Christian, Lavinia (Rosemary Harvey); Peter Kay as the mentally deranged Spintho and Terence Bird, the ox driver were excellent, while Richard Price as the muscular and naturally belligerent Christian, Ferrovious, was the most forceful character of the play.
The many non-speaking members of the cast, miscellaneous Christians, gladiators, slaves, soldiers, etc. all patiently maintained their parts and added substance to the performance. The play was directed by Miss M.E.David, Messrs A Unsted & F.Harvey were stage managers, Mr. W.Howells prepared the scenery, Miss M.Hill did the make-up, & Mr A.T.Fowles was responsible for the lighting.
Before the play the school choir, consisting of twenty-two girls & nine boys, under the direction of Mrs.J.N.Horne, sang four songs. At the close of the concert the head master, Mr. A.L.Jones thanked all those who had in any way contributed to the success of the entertainment; Rosemary Simms presented a bouquet to Mrs. Horne & Caesar (John Payne) a box of chocolates to Miss David.