Last year in ‘Tobias & the Angel’, the young actors of Chipping Campden Grammar School took us to places in the Middle East.In this year’s play, ‘Arms and the Man’ our destination was the rose-petalled Balkan, and with half the fare going towards the Campden alms house fund, this second excursion proved as happy and as enjoyable as the first.
This play which was presented to the public in the Grammar School hall on Thursday and Friday of last week, is Bernard Shaw’s gentle satire on popular Ruratanian romance. The hero is unheroic, the events are neither noble nor momentous, and the taste of the play is rarely saccharine. It is unnecessary for me to detail the plot because it is already familiar to most people, and in any case it is too rediculous to be pinned down by cold print. The important thing is that the mood of the play is gay, light-hearted, and tongue-in-cheek, and that the producer, Miss M.E.David, captured it perfectly.
She was ably supported by her youthful cast. As Blunuchii, the chocolate-cream soldier, William Buckland looked very handsome in his fine uniform and sustained his long part admirably. Shirley Pullen, as Raina, made a charming heroine, acting with just the right note of impish innocence. As her mother, June Turvey gave a very convincing character study, proving again what a reliable young actress she is. Janet Franklin, as a chamber-maid with ideas above her station, is described during the play as a provoking little witch, and this is exactly what she was. She was full of vitality and her carriage and movements showed remarkable grace.
Until now the perfect part seems always to have eluded David Tarplett but as Raina’s lover, Major Saranoff, has found it at last and played it superbly.His portrayal of this swaggering ‘dandy’ of a cavalry officer will be remembered in the school for a long time. John Payne, as the inept father gave his usual clever performance and was able to disguise completely the fact that he’d been miscast. I liked Robert White’s quiet but telling performance as the thrifty man-servant, and Arthur Morris, in a brief appearance. made a smart Russian officer.
The three changes of scene were handled with economy and skill and the settings neatly suggested the play’s exotic background but the atmosphere gained most from the costumes, which were really lovely. Miss J. Bint assisted by M.Plested was the wardrobe mistress & Mr W.Howells was responsible for the scenery and make-up. Other back-stage workers included Mr.A.Fowles, lighting; G.Charles & E. Booker, properties; Mr.I.Tilbrook, publicity & seating; M.Sweey, prompting;Mr A.Unsted assisted by T.Gowans & D.Stanley, stage management; & A.Reeve & E.Powell, printing.
A short recital by the school choir, conducted by Mrs.P.Horne, preceded the play.
NB THIS COPY FROM THE EJ WAS DIFFICULT TO READ & TRANSCRIBE & THE ODD WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED.