Dry Rot

Autumn 1959

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Dry Rot - by John Chapman
Performed -  Thurs 26th to Sat 28th November 1959 at Blenkin Memorial Hall, Boston

The story deals with a crazy but very likeable gang of bookies who, in order to be near the racecourse, are staying at a country hotel run by a retired colonel and his wife and daughter. Secret rooms, sliding panels, mistaken identity and a nice little bit of romance are some of the main ingredients of this very racy and slick farce, which never lets up for a moment and provides some of the best possible entertainment around.

House Full Of “Dry Rot”
Speed, polish, verve, and attack. Those are, perhaps, the vital qualities needed if a farce is to be successful. And they are all to be found to a commendably high degree in A. B. Stephenson’s production of “Dry Rot” for Boston Playgoers’ Society.

Because of that, and the expertise of the well-chosen cast of experienced players, the production (which started a three-night run at the Memorial Hall last evening) delighted the large audience.

The story is no stronger than we can reasonably expect in any farce, but it has a lively assortment of characters and plenty of action.

And trousers fall to reveal old-fashioned full-length underpants with a frequency unmatched since the heyday of the memorable Tom Walls Aldwych farces (writes G.S.B.).

Scene of the action – the lounge hall at the Bull and Cow – is complete with sliding secret panel, and there’s a French phrase book to add to the hilarity, so who could ask for anything more?

Much of the success of the evening is undoubtedly due to the partnering of Ray Hensman, as “Honest Alf”, the bookmaker determined to ensure that the favourite shall not win the big race, and John Cammack, as his runner cum valet.

The scene in which Alf tutors his incredibly “dim” aide in the gentle art of horseriding, using the settee as his mount, is the play’s comedy high-spot.

John Cammack scores a notable double in that he has also designed the most effective and attractive set.

For once, it is possible to say that there is not a single really weak link in the cast.

J. Lindsay Stephen does well as the colonel turned publican, Honor George is always in character as his wife, and Naomi Stephen earns more than a fair share of the laughs with her portrayal of the moronic servant.

Bess Berry never puts a foot wrong (except to fall through the dry rot-attacked staircase) as the police sergeant, Fred Kirk struggles manfully with the role of the French jockey, and Fred George adds his quota of comedy as “Flash Harry”, the horse thief.

Bob Allan and Jill Sharpe handle the slight romantic interest more than competently, and Alan Gould almost makes his major production debut – he’s the unseen race commentator.

In order of appearance. Actors names on right:

Colonel Wagstaff - J. Lindsay Stephen
Mrs Wagstaff - Honor George
Beth Barton - Naomi Stephen
Susan Wagstaff - Jill Sharpe
John Danby - Bob Allan
Fred Phipps - John Cammack
Alfred Tubbe - Ray Hensman
Flash Harry - Fred George
Albert Polignac - Fred Kirk
Sergeant Fire - Bess Berry
Commentator - Alan Gould

Production Team

Producer - A. B. Stephenson
Stage Manager - John Bignall
Set Design - John Cammack
Prompter - Margaret Comer
Wardrobe Mistress - Dorouthy Woodcock
Property Mistress - Shirley Kirk
Electrician - George Budge
Business Manager - John Bignall