Thursday 20th April to Saturday 22nd April and Tuesday 25th April to Saturday 29 April 2006
Directed by Sally Hartley
For a boy growing up from the end of the Second World War to the late 1960s, the Golden Pathway Annual seemed to be the perfect companion. But oh, the contradictions that can wear out a grown-up person... For anyone who's been a child; re-live the experience of growing up, with Michael, his parents and the array of characters he meets along the way. Be prepared... education is a dangerous thing!
The Golden Pathway Annual was first performed at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1973 and was first published in 1974.
It is a series of 24 sketches which tell the story of a boy, Michael Peters, growing up in the period from the end of the Second World War to the late 1960s. The sketches follow Michael's life from the age of 2 to 23. Whilst the story could be set anywhere, the writers suggest that it is set in Sheffield. Often funny and touching, the play is a dip in to the nostalgia of the period and will resonate with anyone who grew up in that time.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. Zoë Chapman was nominated for 'Best Amateur Actress' for her portrayal of the many female roles in this play in The News 'Guide' Awards 2006.
|The Officer||Darryl Wakelin|
|George Peters||Mark Wakeman|
|Enid Peters||Zoë Chapman|
|Michael Peters||Nathan Chapman|
|A Chicken||Darryl Wakelin|
|Miss Jones||Zoë Chapman|
|Mr Seth||Darryl Wakelin|
|The Head||Darryl Wakelin|
|Girl Friend||Zoë Chapman|
|Assistant Director||Jo Bone|
|Stage Manager||John Wilcox|
|Stage Crew||Julie Wood |
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Lighting Design||Damon Wakelin|
|Lighting Operator||Alice Corrigan|
|Sound Operator||Chris Stoneham|
|Publicity||Jaspar Utley |
|Production Photographs||Katie Anderson|
|Front of House||Ingrid Corrigan|
Although I've been a member of the Bench for nearly 20 years, this is my first substantive go at directing, and I've plumped for 'The Golden Pathway Annual'. It may not be that well-known, but is a play that had a big impact on me when I saw it over twenty years ago in my youth.
I like the play a lot. For some it may evoke nostalgic memories of the era in which it is set. Maybe you can identify with one or more of the characters, maybe scenes spark off a personal memory or recognition, but I like the play particularly because it engages the timeless and universal struggles with growing up: it is an enterprise of self-knowledge, both painful and funny. The play presents an everyman journey from innocence to experience, the discovery of right and wrong, the slow painful realisation that there are so many grey areas and the ambition of finding system and reason in the apparent jumble of principles and goals that we respect, or say we do.
I love the way it's written: fast, funny and poignant. It presents a huge challenge to the actors: who need to keep up with rapid scene changes, as well as time travel! I love the stylised, non-naturalistic structure, which appeals to me because of its simplicity: for example, there is no attempt to conceal the fact that the actor who plays Michael is a grown man in order to convince us he is a child, rather the play allows the actor to represent the qualities and sensibilities of the various ages he plays. Similarly, the set is a simple playing area in which the actors - and the audience - can use their imaginations.
I have been extremely privileged to have had a cast of four such good actors, who have been inventive, imaginative, resourceful and hilarious. They have been unerringly patient with my peculiar directorial attempts and I do hope that they enjoy performing the play as much as I know I will enjoy watching it. I hope you enjoy it too.
Good to see this piece getting, to my knowledge, only its second outing in the Portsmouth area, so hoorah to Sally Hartley for being brave enough to tackle it for The Bench.
What's it about, Well, it's a series of mostly comic sketches telling the story of a boy growing up between 1945 and 1968. When I last saw it performed it was with a cast of 13. Here, Hartley has pruned this to four - one woman and three men. I'm not entirely certain this works as effectively as it might and just one more woman to ease the burden on the overworked (but always effective) Zoë Chapman may have worked better - but that's subjective.
Nathan Chapman as the boy in question is excellent, as is the redoubtable Mark Wakeman as his father. Stealing the show from Chapman, Chapman and Wakeman, however is Darryl Wakelin playing everyone else in the show and excelling as a drunken Irishman. Superb playing.
The set is economic and striking in its simplicity. Too many fluffed lines and swallowed words last night (particularly in the James Bond pastiche) lead to a few lost laughs but - no doubt - this will pick up as the run continues. Enormous fun.
The News, 21st April 2006