Above: Bill Calvert as Mr Melbury and John Webster as Mr. Upjohn, in the original promenade production with Midsommer Actors Co. at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire.
Adapted by myself from the Novel by Thomas Hardy, the play was originally an open-air promenade piece, receiving great acclaim; it would transfer to a large theatre stage very easily.
"...the performances are as intricately detailed, and as powered, as in a cosy auditorium...a stroll back through time into another, earthier world. You'll be enchanted."
- The Guardian (Robin Thornber).
A short extract from the script:-
Scene: 2. HAIR
SOUTH’S COTTAGE INTERIOR. OLD SOUTH IS LYING IN A BED AT THE BACK. MARTY SOUTH IS SEATED BEFORE A FIRE MAKING THATCHING SPARS WITH SKILL AND RAPIDITY. PERCOMB APPROACHES AND MARTY LOOKS UP.
MARTY: Oh!… Mr. Percomb…you frightened me.
PERCOMB: You should shut your door Mary.
MARTY: I can’t; the chimney smokes so……..Why, Mr Peromb, you look as unnatural away from your wigs an’all as a canary in a thorn hedge …Surely you’ve not come all the way out here on my account….for….
PERCOMB: Yes, Marty – to have your answer about this...
TOUCHING HER HAIR.
...it is necessary that I should know at once; the lady is going away soon; it takes time to make up.
MARTY: Don’t press me. I was in hopes you’d though no more of it….I cannot part with it! So there!
PERCOMB: Now look here, Marty…How much do you get for making these spars?
MARTY: Shhhh! Father’s asleep….he don’t know I’m doing his work.
PERCOMB: Well now, tell me…how much?
MARTY: Eighteen pence a thousand, from Mr. Melbury, the timber dealer just below here.
PERCOMB: And how many can you make in a day?
MARTY: In a day and a half the night…three bundles…a thousand and a half
PERCOMB: So, two and threepence…Well, look here; a gold sovereign, almost new; as much as you’d earn in a week at that rough, man’s work, and its yours for just letting me snip off what you’ve go too much of ….hmmm?
[end of extract]
Below: Julia Stubbs as Sukey Damson, and Francis Middleditch as Dr Fitzpiers. (photo M.J. Pollard)