The Chipping Campden School gave the broad & narrow acres of its new stage in theatrical baptism with two cinemascopic productions, ‘Fat King Melon,’ by A.P.Herbert, and ‘Androcles & the Lion,’ by Bernard Shaw.
The producers came to terms with the stage, which resembles a gigantic letterbox, largely by ignoring it or at least not trying to fill it with scenery. They used small, portable scenery,which often looked very effective, and filled the stage with people, so that both plays resembled moving friezes.
The cast of both plays must have totalled in the region of 70, an enormous number of impsof various ages to marshal, instruct and control.
As might be expected from a first excurtion into unknown territory, neither production was as polished as school plays can sometimes be, but both were very entertaining and there was not a dull moment.
The first play, ‘Fat King Melon,’ was the more successful of the two because it was fresher and off-beat and funny in a self-parodying way, unusual in a school play. Even so, some of the humour was a shade self conscious. Children talking in a strangulated comic voice is not quite as acceptable as adults doing the same thing.
The Shaw play was less stylish and disciplined, but had a likable Androcles and a fearsome looking beast in the title roles. ‘Well, roared Lion!’ The final performances ended in a euphoria of goodwill with the audience, like Androcles’ lion, eating out of the hand of the handsome captain, who stepped out of the play to thank the backstage legions and to present gifts to the producers, Miss Lewis and Mr. Newton.
All in all it was a very enjoyable evening and if the problem of the stage was not exactly, conquered, one was left itching to see what they would do with it next time.
Casts: ‘Fat King Melon’: Rebecca Free, Malcom Kitchen, Keith Gardner, Douglas Hill, Stephen Grove, Valerie Smith, Penelope Tilbrook, Andrew Simpson, Linda Adams, Dylan Davies & Yvonne Sherwin.
‘Androcles & the Lion:’ Stephen Brodie,Andrew Palmer, Michael Davies, Rosemary Vidal, Christopher Wilfred, Charles Wood, John Fox, Robert Higginson, Peter Fairbank, Christopher Povey, Charles Peach, Paul Lutter, David Hartley, Thomas Campbell, Peter Brown, Susan Yardley and Julia Pettipher.