The Farmer’s Wife Programme - pages 4 and 1

The Farmer’s Wife Programme - pages 2 and 3


Scene from The Farmer’s Wife

Scene from The Farmer’s Wife

Scene from The Farmer’s Wife

Press Cuttings




The Temple Dramatic Society gained the admiration and praise of large audiences with their presentations of Eden Phillpott’s comedy, “The Farmer’s Wife,” in St. Mary Cray Village Hall on Thursday and Saturday. Not only did the play itself meet with ready approval, but the standard of acting was such that there was not one dull moment.

The charm of this comedy is that its interest is derived from the native wit and humour of simple and homely Devonians, which has a never-failing appeal. It is a picture of real life. Devonshire will always be as Eden Phillpotts painted it, and there must be many living counterparts of his essentially human and loveable characters.

The players did more than overcome the difficulties of imitating the drawling dialect of the Devonian—only a west country man could detect inconsequential and occasional discrepancies; they looked and acted their parts convincingly.

Both in dialogue and action the play scintillates with humour that is capable of ready appreciation and never forced. The players took full advantage of this and it was a tonic to hear the spontaneous laughter and applause with which the cosy new hall rang every few minutes.

Although Thursday was the first occasion the players have acted in the hall, they seemed as much at home as the audience. The only cause for complaint—and it can be forgiven because of the difficulties—was that an uncomfortably long time was taken to change the scenery for the second act. Fortunately, however, there was a good supply of gramophone music to act as an antidote to the impatience of the audience during the 25 minutes waiting period.

The Characters.

Mr. Leslie Duck had the important part of the widowed and dashing farmer, “Samuel Sweetland,” who is restless but reasoned in his search for a second spouse. “Sweetland” meets with refusal after refusal until it dawns on him that his needs would be best met by his own housekeeper. Mr. Duck carried off the part with polished ease and his Devonshire accent was the best heard.

Another outstanding figure was the producer, Mr. George Waller. His interpretation of “Churdles Ash,” the bachelor-philosopher whose outspoken opinions of women and matrimony providem uch of the fun, will remain in memory. He looked the most like a son of the soil.

As “Sweetland’s” final choice, “Araminta Dench,” Miss Irene Evans seemed to hold herself back more than was necessary. She could with advantage have exploited her abilities more. Miss Joy Duck was admirably cast as “Sibley Sweetland,” the farmer’s younger daughter. There was all the sweet freshness of the country in her characterisation, and she sand the unaccompanied song in the party scene with charm and ease.

By way of contrast, Miss Lulu Best was more of the traditional Devonshire dumpling as “Petronell Sweetland,” the proud elder daughter whose amorous adventures in the past rival those of her father. She, too, was happily chosen for her part.

A Ludicrous Figure.

Without stooping to mere clowning, and although he lacked the advantage of make-up, Mr. Wilfred Sampson cut a truly ludicrous figure as “George Smerdon,” the love-sick youth whose bait of an unexpectedly aquired fortune is refused by Petronell until the very end. His was a fine study. Mr. W. Eric Webb was also good as the jolly “Richard Coaker,” who wins the heart of “Sibley.”

Mrs. L. E. Tompkins interpreted ot a nicety the part of “Thirza Tapper,” the spinster whose “just so” villa residence is the pride of her heart and to whom “Sweetland’s” offer of marriage comes too late in life. As “Widow Windeatt,” Miss Freda Best was a trim figure in a riding habit, and Miss Beckie Collier was convincing as the man-hunting post-mistress, particularly when she became hysterical at “Sweetland’s” innuendoes as to her trustworthiness.

The lesser parts of guests at the party were taken creditably by the following :— “Susan Maine,” Miss Cissie Betts; “Sarah Smerdon,” Miss Dorothy Wood; “Sophie Smerdon,” Miss Joan Jarrett; “Teddy Smerdon,” Master Herbert Weller; “Valiant Dunnybrig,” Mr. Alan Cryer; “Doctor Rundle,” Mr. Cyril Grimes; “Mrs. Rundle,” Miss Dorine Croft; “Henry Coaker,” Mr. Reginald Murrells; “Mr. Gregson,” Mr. Raymond White; “the Rev. Septimus Tudor,” Mr. Leo E. Tompkins.

Programmes were sold by the Misses B. Collier, R. Spearing and D. Wood, and the following acted as stewards:—Messrs. T. Crowhurst, C. Grimes, L. Tompkins, R. Murrells and R. White.