Production 32 The Gioconda Smile

The Gioconda SmileBy Aldous Huxley

Performed on Wed 26th to Sat 29th May 1965 at The Astor Theatre
In aid of The Deal Handicapped Club

 

 

The Cast

The Cast

Henry Hutton Tony Kilshawe
Janet Spence Dorothy Abbott
Nurse Braddock Doris Cohen
Clara Clare Bradshaw
Doris Mead Rosemary Connolly
Dr. Libbard Conrad Sherwin
General Spence Andrew Lawson
Maid Jacqueline Ward
Warder Ronald Latham

Cast of The Gioconda Smile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Previews/Reviews

Previews/Reviews

The Gioconda Smile

Challenge Ends in Triumph

The anguish of a condemned cell and the torment of a mind driven to madness was the culmination of The Giaconda Smile, a tense drama produced in aid of The Deal Handicapped Club at The Astor Theatre on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week. Sponsored by Deal and Walmer branch of The British Legion. The Gioconda Smile, by Aldous Huxley, was the first of its kind to be attempted by Tony Kilshawe and his team, on the small Astor Theatre. Regarding it as a challenge the cast surpassed all previous productions – mostly comedies – and gave full justice to the suspense of a very moving plot.

Cast of The Gioconda Smile

Not a whodunit, with explanations afterwards, the play centred around an art connoisseur with hedonistic tendencies; the part of Tony Kilshawe. His deliverance of profound philosophies was quite a change from his usual popularity in comedy roles. When his invalid wife dies suddenly his friends are shocked at his marriage six weeks later to a young country girl. When his wife’s ex-nurse and a near neighbour, a clever sophisticated young woman whose love for him is ignored, get together, an autopsy is urged. Arsenic poisoning is discovered and Henry Hutton is tried for his wife’s murder. Pleading his innocence to the last, it is not until a few seconds before the final curtain falls that the answer is known. Much of the play’s success was due to Dorothy Abbot, an accomplished amateur actress who, as Janet Spence, the thwarted admirer, went slowly mad with uncanny realism. A fine contrast to her intense performance was Rosemary Connolly, as the sweet young second wife, who in her performance dominated the stage as, grief stricken, she pleads for her husband’s life. Unusual twist to the performance was the division of the stage into two scenes at the end; the spotlight alternated between Hutton in the prison cell and Janet Spence, the murderess, as she awaits the execution. In fiction, death always goes in-hand with a fierce thunderstorm and even on the Astor stage this was most impressive as the lighting mingled with the candlelight, and the rolling thunder preceded drenching rain. The only complaint was that Andrew Lawson, as General Spence, was entered in a bone dry coat. His performance nevertheless was strong with a dry humour that contrasted well with the suspense. The nurse, a conscientious hater of men, was one of Doris Cohen’s best performances, as was Conrad Sherwin’s characterisation of Dr. James Libbard, who quietly solves the murder and rings the Home Secretary minutes before the execution is due to take place. Even the smaller parts, taken by Ronald Latham, Jacqueline Ward and Clare Bradshaw, added to the smooth running of the performance. The play, directed by Tony Kilshawe, will provide money towards the Deal Handicapped Club’s new premises. Also assisting in the production were: - Front of House, Bert Bradshaw; Stage Director, Julian Grenville; Stage Manager, Reuben Atkinson; Properties, Mollie Boyce, Sylvia Ling & Raymond Osbourn; Prompt, Madeleine Franklin; Lighting & Effects. Arthur Laffar & Ronald Latham; Scenery & Décor, Reuben Atkinson, Tony Kilshawe & Will Inskip.

Published in The East Kent Mercury

Amateurs Triumph in Giaconda Smile

Aldous Huxley’s suspense play The Giaconda Smile, is no easy undertaking for amateurs. But Producer Tony Kilshawe triumphed at The Astor Theatre, Deal, last week. I found Tony Kilshawe in great form as the ageing philanderer wrongly accused of murdering his wife. His performance was only bettered by the characterisation of Dorothy Abbott as the embittered and vengeful woman who had loved him. A contrast of some brilliance came from Rosemary Connolly, who portrayed beautifully the gamin girl involved as the pregnant second wife. Doris Cohen presented a strong performance as the vitriolic nursing sister bent on bringing her former employer to justice, but Conrad Sherwin seemed uneasy as the doctor who worked hard for eventual justice. There were good supporting roles from Clare Bradshaw, Andrew Lawson, Jacqueline Ward and Ronald Latham.

Tony Arnold

Production Team

Production Team

Producer & Director Tony Kilshawe
Front of House Bert Bradshaw
Stage Director Julian Grenville
Stage Manager Reuben Atkinson
Props Mollie Bryce, Sylvia Ling & Raymond Osbourn
Prompt Madeleine Franklin
Lighting & Effects Arthur Laffar & Ronald Latham
Scenery & Décor Reuben Atkinson, Tony Kilshawe & Will Inskip

Cast of The Gioconda Smile