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Martins Bank Society of the Arts – Drama Section in: The Mock Trial – an ad lib performance

Staged: 24 March 1949 in the basement theatre at Head Office

Ad-lib is not a style of drama that we are used to seeing amongst Martins Bank’s various acting groups, but by way of exception, in March 1949, “The Mock Trial” - billed as a comedy - was very much an ad-lib performance. This was in an attempt to increase the realism of a court case where only those playing the court officials had been “briefed” about the “case”, thus giving an “edge” to the performances of those involved.  

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The review printed in Martins Bank Magazine’s Summer 1949 edition is, however mixed to say the least – they like the idea, they admit it was very funny, but in trying to be the balanced critic, the writer makes much of people whose lines were not clearly or loudly spoken, and of times when the whole thing seemed to drag on.  Having seen the reviews of more than one hundred performance of music and drama by the Bank’s various societies, we are struck by how each of them receives this kind of critique – what used to be referred to as “bouquees and brick-bats”. We do wonder what some of the performers felt about the things that were written about them, which whilst always constructive, were often lacking in sensitivity!

The case “Grouse v. Winsome and Cheap” was unrehearsed, except that Counsel had studied their briefs. It was extremely funny, particularly the early part, and some first-rate talent was revealed. The life and soul of the proceedings was Keith Scott as the Plaintiff—one of the “barrow boys.” From beginning to end he never lost an opportunity of either an interruption or a smart retort, interspersed with plenty of byplay. Derrick G. Hanson took the role of Counsel for the Plaintiff and made an extremely good job of it. He had obviously studied his brief carefully and his questions and the general conduct of his case were workmanlike and to the point.

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Barbara Griffith Keith Scott W Brookes Colin Skelton Derrick Hanson Howell Jones

Thea Bower Betty Jackson Edward G Shaw (Teddy) Shaw and John Pugh

Howell Jones played the part of Counsel for the Defendants.From a histrionic point of view his acting was of a very much higher standard than his material. Many of his questions seemed to lack point but the manner in which they were presented covered this up to a large extent. The defendants were played by Betty Jackson and Edward G. Shaw. Betty could not be heard very clearly, a fact which somewhat spoiled the effect of the cross-questioning at this part of the trial. Neither counsel made use of the fact that there was no case against the Assistant Editor, who should have been discharged. The Editor and the Proprietor are the people responsible for what is printed in a publication—not the Editor’s assistant. The verdict was given for the defendants. The witnesses were Thea Bower as the Plaintiff’s mother; Barbara Griffith as his ex-fiancee, R. W. Bywell as an ex-Staff Manager and John Pugh as a police constable. Each added his or her quota to the hilarity of the proceedings and helped to make things go. Colin Skelton took the role of Clerk to the Court and George Oxton acted as Court Usher. The part of the judge was played by Mr. S. G. Urmson. There was one point about midway when the action dragged a little, and there is something to be said for rehearsal beforehand, but apart from these comments it was highly entertaining and well worth the experiment. It will bear repetition, using a different case.

 

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