2014 The Militants Reviews

Daily Echo - Curtain Call

Monday 28th April 2014

By Ham Quentin

NORMAN HOLLAND'S 1969 play depicts the passions aroused in 1908 by the fight for female suffrage. With clever use of a split interior/exterior set designed by MICHAEL EDWARDS and excellent period costumes (by Director SHIRLEY LOVELL and ALISON WOOLFORD), the action takes place in and around the home of Josiah Malin (MICHAEL HESELDIN), an Alderman and Mayor elect who refuses to take the local Suffragette group seriously until he's forced to by events, and members of his own household.

Amusing and impassioned by turn, this production features some promising d├ębuts - DOUGLAS MACKIE, highly sympathetic as a visiting Liberal, EILEEN BELLAMY, making the Suffragette's impact very real, and TIM ELWOOD, droll as a wordless policeman.

More 'regular' performers are equally worthy, especially JANINE BLACKMORE, touching and effective as a fragile, almost fanatical devotee and KIRSTY TURNER as Malin's formidable wife.

This show, their 138th, marks the Worthy Players' 40th anniversary.

 

The Worthys Parish Magazine

By Eleanor Hamblin

The Worthy Players - 'The Militants' by Norman Holland

The Worthy Players choice of this play was an ambitious one given the size of the cast and the limitations of the stage at the Jubilee Hall. But nothing daunted, Shirley Lovell directed the very talented group in an excellent production. As one entered the hall one could only marvel at Michael Edwards' very colourful set which cleverly incorporated the street and the front door as well as the authentic interior of an Edwardian house in the northern town of 'Metringham'.

It is 1908. Winston Churchill is standing as a candidate in nearby Manchester and although still many years before women gained the right to vote, there is an active Suffragette branch in Metringham. The story revolves around the home of Mayor-elect Alderman Josiah Malin and the ladies of his household when Richard Ward, the prospective Liberal Party candidate for Metringham is visiting the town. The plot develops over the course of three days with much coming and going as the many characters interact with some surprising results.

In the programme the Director wrote, 'There is humour in the actions of the Suffragettes, and in the bigotry of the so-called 'liberal' Alderman Malin, but there are also scenes of conflict and bitterness'. Both of these aspects were well portrayed and appreciated by the responsive audiences.

With such a large cast it is somewhat invidious to single out anyone for special praise. However, Michael Heseldin as the self opinionated Alderman Malin and Kirsty Turner as his not so submissive wife were very well cast together with members of their household played by Janine Blackmore, Charlotte Hammond and Clare Walker. So too were Barbara Kearns, the 'captain' of Suffragettes Sam Muir, Abigail Hammond, Alison Woolford, Eileen Bellamy, Gina Bird and Julie Pettigrew. The Liberal candidate was played by newcomer Douglas Mackie while David Woolford, an amiable citizen and Police officers Nick Kearns and Tim Elwood completed the cast. Shirley Lovell and Alison Woolford were responsible for the authentic period costumes.

This excellent production was one of the Worthy Players' best in recent years and they are to be congratulated on so successfully tackling such a challenging play.

 

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