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Martins Bank Society of the Arts – Drama Section in: Drama at Childwell bottom by Bill Brookes

Staged: 12 December 1946 in the little theatre at Head Office Water Street Liverpool

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The Second World War is obviously still fresh in the mind in 1946, when Martins Bank Staff Member Bill Brookes pens a one-act comedy about an amateur dramatic group capturing a German Airman, whilst trying to research the witches’ scene from Shakepeare’s MacBeth.  It’s just the sort of thing you wish had been made into a film or television drama, and perhaps it is not too late to do this, provided the script still exists somewhere!  On the same night at the little theatre at Head Office, the group also presented “The Sixth Hour” a heavy religious piece, so the comedy offered by the villagers and their escapades taking a German prisoner must have offered much needed relief. The tiny theatre in the basement of 4 Water Street was crammed with an audience of one hundred and twenty people, which at that time was the largest audience yet experiences by the players, and included one of the top brass of the Bank and his family.  It seems the antics of the characters in Drama at Childwell Bottom were agreat opportunity for individual group members to really get their acting teeth into, and Martins Bank Magazine seems on the whole to be very pleased with the whole thing…

This was an original comedy by Bill Brookes, of Central branch. The plot is centred round the capture of a Nazi airman by the cast of a village amateur dramatic society, and much of the humour lay in the odd assembly of village types and the eminently unsuitable roles allotted to them for their rehearsal of a scene from “ Macbeth.” John Willis gave a most convincing performance as the Rev. Horace Cartwright, and evinced no more interest than was seemly in the attractive schoolmistress, played by Kathleen Bone (Castle Street branch).

Kathleen Bone, Marjorie Balshaw, Mrs. Wall Jones, John Willis, Barbara Sharp,

Barbara Phillips, Barbara Griffith, Norman Leach, Kenneth Learoyd and Alec Ellis.

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The witches’ scene was rehearsed to the accompaniment of various interruptions of an upsetting nature supplied by A. R. Ellis as the village ancient, while Mrs. Blake, played by Barbara Sharp (Trustee Dept., Head Office), caused further confusion by bringing in tea at the wrong time. The proceedings were finally held up by the desperate German airman, Kenneth Learoyd (Foreign branch), who was dramatically captured by that worthy member of the Home Guard, Herbert Blake, played by Norman Leach (Chief Accountant’s Dept., Head Office). Marjorie Balshaw as the lisping witch interpreted the part with originality which was wholly successful. A word of special praise is due to Barbara Phillips (East branch), for her realistic performance of the sniffing, penny-novelette-reading school girl. Clever performances were also given by Mrs. Hylda Wall Jones, whom we would like to see next time in a sugary part for a change, and Barbara Griffith (Foreign branch), whose portrayal of the panic-stricken spinster left nothing to the imagination.

 

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