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A RADIO PLAY OF THE CAT AND THE CANARY
Reviewed Keith Smithers on Friday 25th February
Director Emily Dadson
Written by John Willard
Adapted by David Muncaster
The story of “The Cat and the Canary” was first published in 1921 and first performed a year later. After four film versions David Muncaster adapted this horror story into an amusing adaptation for a radio play. Although there are ten characters in the play itself, when the program is due to go out, there is a maximum of six actors who arrive and the fun and games start when some of them have to double up in reading the missing actors’ lines. Also involved is a sound effects man who is responsible for all the correct sounds at the right time without the aid of modern recording facilities.
Lizzie Gibson is the Cornish housekeeper who has to to read in for the upper class Annabelle West. Simon Smith as Roger Crosby, the lawyer, attempts to read in for the housekeeper but is quickly rebuffed by his fellow voice artists. So Sarah Tripp who was cast as Susan Silsby, the older well-to- do lady, took over this Cornish role and turned her into a Brummie! Jeanette Fido was Cicily Young, the organised one, and played it with great effect. Chris Harris played Charlie Wilder, the nemesis of Harry Blythe. Peter Allday who played the aforementioned Harry Blythe also took on on Paul Jones - being of the surname Jones it had, of course, to be spoken in Welsh brogue. Another artist, booked to read Hendricks, was missing so Peter took on this with a Scottish accent. The final missing person was Dr. Paterson, so Peter also tackled this but with a French accent. The amusement and hilarity gathered pace as these various absentee actors had to converse one with another. Brendan Amesbury was the sound effects man and had a table full and overflowing with equipment to make the sound of bells, knockers, creaking and banging doors, footsteps and a telephone.
To add to the confusion, the play itself was a little complicated, so I will not attempt to explain the plot. Just to say, like the maxim, “Where there is a will, there is a greedy relative.” Although an intricate story line and many twists and turns, the conclusion was quite straight forward.
Because of the setting of the play in a studio, apart from the props table, little scenery was required. Lighting and sound was simple and effective. Costumes were in keeping with the time.
This is Walberton Players’ first production for two years and I understand that this play has been prepared over the last few months, initially over zoom meetings. Since the lifting of covid restrictions they were then able to have proper rehearsals only recently. This first production back was a recipe for an enjoyable and amusing evening. Thank you to all involved on stage, back stage or in production.
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