Rebecca Draws Large Audiences
Judging by the large audiences it attracted “REBECCA” was a popular choice for Rye Players’ May production.
Although it is a long and at times wordy play, it does capture the essence of Daphne du Maurier’s much loved novel and it certainly held the attention of the audience from start to finish. The great problem for any amateur group is how to create even part of a large mansion on a very small stage but the Players solved it very well. Their recent fund raising efforts made it possible for Ian Walker, the stage manager, to extend and improve the stage at the Community Centre before constructing a realistic set which was well designed and painted by June Woolley and Judy Wall, and furnished to look like the reception hall of a country house.
There were strong performances from David Chaplin as Maxim de Winter, happy and self assured when he returns to his beloved Manderley but gradually falling apart as the truth about Rebecca’s Continued from page twenty six
death is revealed; and Sarah Givertz as his second wife, shy and inexperienced frightened by the big house and haunted by thoughts of Rebecca but growing in strength and stature as she supports Maxime.
Delightful cameo performances came from Claire Murray as Maxime’s well meaning but tactless sister Beatrice and Peter Challans as her kindly husband Giles.
Jack Greenhalf as Frith the butler did very well playing a man 50 years his senior, he certainly heeded the old acting advice to get the right walk!
Mrs. Danvers is a gift to any actress and Carol Prior did not waste her opportunity. She managed to menace and manipulate the unfortunate Mrs. Du Winter in a controlled and calculating manner, resisting the temptation to go over the top whilst exuding malice. Rebecca’s cousin and ex-lover was well played by James Allen, goading Maxim to the point of hitting him but truly shaken by Mrs. Danvers’ assertion that Rebecca had never loved him and by the apparent reason for her death.
Ray Jones played Maxim’s estate manager and friend in a suitably sympathetic manner, as did David Neame as Colonel Julyan the Coroner. Ian Walker played Tabb the boat builder with a nice Cornish accent (appropriate casting as he’d built everything else!), and the cast was completed by Grace Isted and Ella Grice as the two pretty housemaids.
Production was by Helen Gray who set a good pace which only dropped a little in the last act, and of course there was the odd slip here and there, but on the whole Helen and the Players should feel well pleased with themselves for this very enjoyable production. I understand that October’s show is not yet decided but that a pantomime is on the cards for January.
“Rye’s Own” July 2004
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