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Martins Bank Society of the Arts – Drama Section in: Dark brown by Philip Johnson

Staged: 25 March 1947 in the Music Room at Head Office Water Street Liverpool

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The performance of “Dark Brown” takes place at the conclusion of the second annual general meeting of Martins Bank’s Society of the Arts Drama Section, for whom things are all still a bit “new”, and to get from here to the dazzling music and drama productions that will be staged over the next two decades in Liverpool and London, seems like it might be an incredibly long journey. However, the member of the Society are tenacious enough to practice, practice, and then practice some more – usually in front of their harshest critics: Themselves!

By staging one or two act short plays regularly, in the Little Theatre at Head Office, lines can be learned and perfected, skills can be honed and wits sharpened, so that when the group performs in a larger theatre to the paying public, they will be able to carry off performances to be proud of. In 1945, the first year of the Society of the Arts, no fewer than FOUR plays are produced, followed by four more in 1946, and two in 1947. The ground has been broken, and the seeds of something great have been sown. 

The second annual general meeting of the Society was held in the Music Room at Head Office, on March 25th, when the report and accounts were adopted and the election of officers took place. We were very glad to welcome Mr. Voyce, Deputy Chief General Manager, whose first attendance it was at one of our meetings, and also Mr. Conacher, Joint General Manager. At the conclusion of the meeting the Drama Section presented a one-act play by Philip Johnson, “ Dark Brown,” the producer being J. K. Cornall. The presentation was entirely successful, outstandingly good performances being given by Maureen Dempster (Heywoods), as the doubting wife; and Betty Jackson (Income Tax Department), as the insane aunt.

Betty Jackson as the insane aunt

Maureen Dempster and Bill Brookes

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Marjorie Balshaw, Kenneth Learoyd, and Maureen Dempster

Bill Brookes (Central), as the hangman, adequately sustained the suspense of this tense little play; and Marjorie Balshaw (Birkenhead), as the imperious and possessive bride-to-be provided the light relief which the play needed, with Kenneth Learoyd (Foreign), as her future husband, who played his difficult part convincingly. Barbara Sharp (Trustee Department), as the mother, always does this kind of part well, but her talent and reliability should be given scope in another direction in future productions. Barbara Griffith (Foreign) as the gossiping shop assistant, caused just those interruptions to the tension which were needed to heighten the drama. At the conclusion of the play Mr. Voyce thanked the members of the Drama Section for the most enjoyable entertainment.

 

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