Production 16 The Gift

The GiftBy Mary Lumsden

Performed on Thu 31st March to Sat 2nd April 1960 at The Astor Theatre
In aid of The Refugee Fund

 

 

The Cast

The Cast

Miss Hooper (secretary to Sir David) Clare Bradshaw
Mrs. Saunders (the housekeeper) Dorrie Sherwin
Justin Allister (assistant to Sir David) Conrad Sherwin
Julie Dennison (Lady Elizabeth’s sister) Molly Fitzgerald
Lady Elizabeth Crossley Doris Cohen
Sir David Crossley (an Ophthalmic Surgeon) Ronald Latham

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Previews/Reviews

Previews/Reviews

The Gift

Splendid Acting in The Gift
St. George’s Church Drama Guild Aid Refugee Fund

An unusual play with a theme peculiarly suited to the occasion, was the choice of St. George’s Church Drama Guild, who presented Mary Lumsden’s The Gift, at the Astor Theatre on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
This play, with its theme of self-sacrifice, was part of The Guild’s contribution towards the World refugee fund, and was a particularly happy choice, although they did not receive the full support of the public. Houses were not over-full on any occasion. The cast of six, headed by actor-producer Conrad Sherwin, scored a notable success by attempting a task so difficult, and succeeding so well. The dialogue was rather technical in parts, and a certain amount of understanding was required to bring home the idea of the play to the audience. The action of the play did not necessitate the changing of the scenery but this rather added to the dramatic effect, and the realistic stage effects of the ophthalmic surgeon’s consulting room contributed in no small degree to the polished all-round performance. The dialogue, technical to a great extent, received sympathetic treatment by a cast who fully realised the seriousness and drama of their unusual choice, and acted accordingly.

Polished Performance
On Friday night, the play opened slowly, but the theme became quite clear after 10 or 15 minutes and from then to the end it moved very slickly with a smooth and polished grace of performance. The story tells of how during the war two sisters in the Wrens fall in love with a distinguished eye surgeon, Sir David Crossley (Ron Latham). Elizabeth (Doris Cohen), the elder, fearing that her sister Julie (Molly Fitzgerald) might prove to have the greater attraction for him, made use of an unfair advantage to get her posted overseas. In the event her fear was unfounded – Sir David was already in love with Elizabeth, and married her soon after. But it has coloured her whole attitude and behaviour towards Julie ever since, and her guilt makes her feel that she can never do enough for her sister to atone for her selfish behaviour. Julie intends to devote her life to medicine, but when an accident in the laboratory seriously affects her sight, it looks as though her career will have to be abandoned. For although Sir David confidently asserts that Julie’s sight can be fully restored by an operation, there will be so long a delay before this can be performed that the chance of her being able to continue her studies will be very small. This delay is occasioned by the nature of the operation, which involves a corneal graft, the material for which is very scarce as it is normally obtained only through the generosity of people who have willed their eyes to medicine. Julie’s distress is too much for Elizabeth, and she insists on sacrificing the sight of one of her eyes so that her sister can have the benefit of an immediate operation. For her it is an act of atonement. Sir David is faced with the decision, whether he should break protocol and operate on his wife, or whether he should leave the operation to another surgeon. Much against his own will, he performs the operation but unfortunately his wife dies, and he is persuaded to operate immediately on Julie. The operation is a success – a double success for Elizabeth, in a final gesture has willed both her eyes to Julie who after a few weeks finds herself able to see again.

Splendid Acting
The two male parts Sir David Crossley (Ron Latham) and Justin Allister (Conrad Sherwin) held the threads of the play together by their splendid performances. Whatever humour this rather serious play possessed, Conrad Sherwin had the handling of it and did it remarkably well. Ron Latham showed considerable acting ability, and his handling of the technical side was first class. Lady Elizabeth Crossley, wife of Sir David, was excellently portrayed by Doris Cohen. This warm human part received the right treatment from a very talented artist. Molly Fitzgerald, as Julie Dennision, Lady Elizabeth’s sister, had one of the most difficult parts of the play, and gave a very sympathetic attractive performance which pleased the audience, and made the play live up to its full meaning. Miss Hooper, Secretary to Sir David (Clare Bradshaw) was quietly effective, and helped in no small way towards the ultimate success of the theme. Mrs. Saunders (Dorrie Sherwin) gave a pleasing performance as the talkative kindly housekeeper.

Messrs. Riceman’s High St (Furniture and Furnishings)
Mr. P.J. Marriot F.B.A.O., The Strand, Walmer (Ophthalmic Equipment)
Messrs. Worsfold and Hayward and Proprietors, East Kent Mercury (Advertising Space)
Borough of Deal Entertainment Committee, the use of The Astor Theatre for a week. Following the National Anthem on Saturday night’s performance, the stage lights were switched on and there was an immediate fuse, which delayed the start of the play. St George’s Church Drama Guild will donate £10 10s 0d to the Mayor’s Refugee Year Appeal Fund (£9 18s 3d excess of income over expenditure on the play, plus the balance from Guild funds).

P O’R
Published in the East Kent Mercury

Production Team

Production Team

Director Conrad Sherwin
Set Construction Jack Catt
Décor Guild Players Members
Lighting Bernard Kimpton
Stage Manager Bert Bradshaw, assisted by Ray Cole
Props Brenda Harvey
Prompt William Fitzgerald
Box Office Dorothy Verrall & Helpers
Front of House Harold Verrall & Helpers