The Greville Theatre Club



The Day After The Fair

by Frank Harvey


May/June 2002

Directed by
Jan Ford


 


DUNMOW OBSERVER

Review: Sinead Holland

A VICTORIAN melodrama with a thoroughly modern resonance is a remarkable achievement and yet one achieved with seeming effortless grace by the Grevllle Theatre Club.

The group's production of “The Day After The Fair”, a two act play by Frank Harvey based on a Thomas Hardy short story “On The Western Circuit” had all the attributes of a successful period piece with a singular message for the email generation. Billed as a "poignant tale of love and marriage", it is the tale of servant girl, Anna, who meets an attractive stranger while taking a turn on the new-fangled steam merry-go-round. After a second passionate encounter (with predictable nappy consequences) the illiterate country girl then has to rely on her employer and mentor Edith Harnham to write a series of letters to her London love.

At the end of the show, which suited Little Easton's intimate Bam Theatre perfectly, the audience ponders the question of which is the more powerful and permanent bond - the meeting of bodies or the connection of minds. Who is truly in love with whom? With just six characters, the play was an exacting test for the small cast who perform within the confines of just one set. Yet they achieved their task with humour, pathos and drama under the accomplished direction of Jan Ford.

Karen Ashton tackled the difficult job of playing the most minor character, maid Sarah, with grace and humour. Her timing and body language spoke volumes in some of the most comic scenes. She was an excellent foil.

David Faithfull was convincing as boring brewer Arthur Harnham, full of bluster and bombast as he blathered and blundered, seemingly oblivious to the heartache of his frustrated, younger wife. Yet his bewilderment at the growing emotional distance between them was also touching. Although Adam Thompson only appeared the second act when the audience finally sees the man who unwittingly romanced both leading ladies, he. made his presence firmly felt with an assured performance. But it was the two women who love and long for attorney Charles Bradford who stole the show. Diana Bradley seized the part of Edith with gusto, perfectly capturing the. frustration of a woman who knows she has settled for second best and forsaken the possibility of passion. Marcia Baldry as Anna was both comic and tragic as she came to terms with the fact that she can never be the equal of the man who has fathered her child.


 


 

BRAINTREE & WITHAM TIMES

Review by James Bright

The Greville Theatre Club are presenting a sparkling gem to celebrate the Jubilee at the Barn Theatre in Little Easton.

Set in the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, “The Day after the Fair” tells the story of a love affair complicated by the class divisions in the society of that era.

The audience's attention was held throughout as Jan Ford, director, kept the action moving at a good pace, fully utilising the potential of the excellent set. Based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, Frank Harvey has expanded it into a full length play which gave the talented cast an opportunity to display their considerable talents. Each of the characters was acted with precision. David Faithfull immediately established himself as the insensitive head of the household whose interests were centred on his family brewing business. As his spinster sister, Madeline Harmer portrayed a kindly perceptive observer of the moods of the others in the household. A convincing Victorian, her good works included visiting the poor in a spirit of economical benevolence. The relationship between the childless wife Edith and Anna, a servant, lay at the heart of the action and was subtly developed. Marcia Baldry was every inch the naive country girl whose bubbly vitality lit up the stage, allowing every emotion full expression. Her exuberance contrasted well with the restraint shown by those around her.

Diana Bradley gave a measured performance as her employer, establishing the delicate balance between her indulgent fondness for her protégé and the essential distance between them, with quiet dignity. This sure touch was further displayed in her meeting with Anna's admirer from London, a keen young barrister, played by Adam Thompson. His enthusiasm was well contrasted by the conventions of lower class courtship, revealed by Karen Ashton as Sarah, a maid in the household. It would be wrong to reveal the plot, for the benefit of those who will enjoy the production of the final three nights. However, it is worth saying that in today's world of text messages and mobile phones, it was salutary to be reminded of the subtlety of the written word and the lost art of letter writing.