See How They Run

Friday, 8 January 1960 - 7:30pm
Saturday, 9 January 1960 - 7:30pm
Philip King
Bessie Lamb
Hornby Institute, Main Street, Hornby

Set in the idyllic village of Merton-cum-Middlewick in 1940s England, the village inhabitants are preparing themselves for the imminent threat of Nazi invasion. Resident nosy-parker and spinster, Miss Skillon, becomes convinced that her beloved vicar’s actress wife is having an affair and attempts to expose her. Add an escaped German prisoner of war, a handsome actor, the visiting Bishop of Lax, a rotund locum priest and some meddling neighbours and hilarious confusion and mayhem result.


Traditionally the parson is a stock figure of comedy - one man in a dog collar seems sufficient to ensure success. Philip King’s boisterous farce “See How They Run” ends with five chasing each other across the stage which is perhaps one reason why Hornby Drama Group’s production on Friday and Saturday was one long laugh.

This is a swift and saucy comedy depending largely on good timing and control. It has a sustained climax played at a pitch which can easily get out of hand and become wearing for the audience.

This cast handled the whole thing beautifully. The dialogue was crisp and well delivered and the players built up the pace of dialogue and action without becoming shrill and untidy in their movements. The rough and tumble of the second and third acts was neatly done.

The success of the play was so much a combined effort from all the cast that it was difficult to single out any player for special praise.

Possibly the most enjoyable performance of the evening was given by Joan Ashton. She had a delightful freshness and exuberance and she spoke her lines as if she had just that minute thought of them. She had good attack, without being too aggressive.

Mary Lamb also had plenty of attack and a complete lack of self-consciousness which made her inebriated stumblings extremely funny - her costume, particularly her hat, was a good choice - and Dorothy Bracken made a good maid.

For the audience at a village play half the fun is watching the transformation of some of the local characters. This was probably particularly true of Kenneth Lamb who looked almost unbelievably meek as the Reverend Arthur Humphrey, Eric Halhead as the vicar and Tom Halhead as the Bishop. John Holt’s was another amusing performance.

Arthur Warburton looked convincingly Nordic as the escaped German prisoner - he had a suitably clipped accent - and Richard Towers was the typical comic sergeant.

The play was directed by Bessie Lamb to whom much of the credit for the play’s success must be given. The setting was nicely suggestive of the kind of vicarage one might expect to find in a village blessed with the name of Merton-cum-Middlewick.

The stage manager was Hugh Batty who was also responsible for the decor. Stage electricians: Bert Biddlestone, Michael Goth. Assistant stage managers: Philip Halstead, Phyllis Holt, Edward Hallam, Jean Hallam. Prompt: Sheila Halstead.