The Country Wife: 26th-28th February 2004

The classic restoration comedy by William Wycherley

A wonderful part with a wonderful cast ~ and I got to wear tights and a wig and say THAT line.

Ray Worth as Mr Dorilant

Immoral and indecent? Just the sort of thing for TADS we thought. Playing ONE of the women seduced by ‘Horner’, played by my husband, was such fun for me and exhausting for him. Cuckold and fop. Well you don’t hear those words every day.

Jane Hughes as My Lady Fidget

Gloucestershire Drama Association’s Full Adjudication:

I have, for some time, eagerly awaited this production and knowing the quality of work normally associated with TADS I felt that in this instance the company would be able to cope with the tremendous demands of such a challenging Restoration play. For the most part I was not disappointed and felt that the cast admirably conveyed the satire, wit and strength of the playwright.

Having studied this period and in fact having myself played the role of Lady Fidget I was immensely interested in all aspects of the production. It is always fascinating to observe interpretation of characters and situations. There have been so many different versions of this play – from the sublime to the ridiculous, from Mrs Pinchwife becoming a “bimbo” to the characters clad in the latest fashions and appearing on a catwalk! I confess I am partial to a more conventional production which nevertheless has elements of creativity and originality about it.

Your set was minimal but served its purpose well despite the fact that it had to represent a number of different locations. It was successful because of the slickness of your backstage crew in changing the furniture. Beautiful period chairs by the way versatility of the set in that it was easily maneuverable to represent the mall and gardens. It may well have been easier for the uninitiated of the audience to follow if the different locations could have been more clearly apparent – perhaps by use of black drapes or screens etc – just a suggestion!

Congratulations to your designer, construction team and crew for the speed they achieved in the scene changes. I am so glad the crew were all in period costume!

Appropriate ‘period’ music. I loved Horner’s song and guitar playing.
Not sure about the use of a guitar however? The “gang’ did themselves proud accompanying him. They should think about setting themselves up as “The Restoration Trio”.

An excellent selection of period costume. The ladies looked charming with all the correct accessories, hair styles, and foot wear and used their fans well! Quite dashing and colourful costumes for the men apart from Pinchwife which was appropriately rather dull grey – just like its owner! Stockings, foot wear and wigs were good and the cast looked comfortable wearing them. It is essential in a costume play that the cast become used to moving in them and to employing the correct postures and hand movements appropriate to the period – Well done!

Congratulations on the speed and efficiency of the crew in removing and setting a considerable number of properties. A good job, well done.

Efficiently accomplished – good use of spots.

I must congratulate you on taking on such a challenging production. I must confess that my first attempt at a Restoration Comedy some years ago now was not one of which I am particularly proud. I really lacked background knowledge of that period and consequently, the mannerisms of the age I am still of the opinion that to direct such a play is a difficult proposition in that one has little real knowledge as to an authentic representation of an age in which the comedy was written – a time when presumably love and wenching were the business of life – (on second thoughts, maybe its not unlike that of today!). Anyway, the direction the play takes will be determined mainly by the casting, and in this case – in the main – it was indeed well cast- I did wonder however, why Marjorie Pinchwife adopted a Welsh accent. I Imagine it would he more likely to have been a Dorset – or indeed a (Gloucestershire one – Either of these would have helped the actor to slow down her speed of delivery -~- the syllables being much more drawn out! Positioning in most of the scenes was well thought out and visually pleasing but there was occasional masking and one or two awkward cross-overs’ in the Mulberry Garden scene. I must congratulate you on the curtain call – one of the best I have witnessed. It was carried out with tremendous panache and confidence. The tableaux were really quite excellent!

Congratulations on a most pleasing production.


I have had the pleasure of seeing this actor in a number of different roles and have invariably been impressed with each one. The role of Horner is most certainly one which can be a challenge for the most professional thespian, but you rose to the challenge in a most impressive manner. Your posture and movements about stage were assured and confident and indeed, one had difficulty in deciding whether Horner is a somewhat sinister character, in other words a villain, or one who had determined to disclose female hypocrisy! You looked so good I’m inclined to believe you to be the satire’s hero rather than its villain! You wore your costume well and I even liked your wig! Your song was great and enhanced by the three naughty and excessively greedy ladies – I was not surprised you had no china left and quite frankly I didn’t in the least grudge you the satisfaction of duping the complacent fool, Sir Jasper or the sex mad trio! A great role, extremely well played!

A brave effort, and although one accepts that this character is less witty and amusing than that of Horner, I feel that your interpretation was lacking somewhat in animation and sparkle. Projection was not good on occasions but improved considerably as the play progressed. I thought your intrigues to secure the hand of Alithea were well done and your disguise as a priest very funny indeed particularly the chant!

Horner and Dorilant are considered to be the two rakish characters, but somehow, apart from the famous observation a mistress should be like a little country retreat near the town’ etc – which you delivered well I had little indication of the rakishness of your character. However, there is not a lot of opportunity in the role to establish this, except perhaps in the scene outside the Gardens when you try to seduce Lucy – this was also well done. A brave effort.

I thought you sustained this role well throughout the play. Pinchwife has married a country girl because
he admits “I could never keep a whore to myself. He is a combination of a clown and a tyrant. You conveyed the character well, so that I even felt a certain amount of sympathy for you. Your projection was good and you did well in the ‘letter’ scene. Well done!

Your first entrance with your cackling laugh was received with much humour by a responsive audience. This foppish character and ‘would-be’ wit is a great, but difficult role to sustain but you conveyed it admirably. Your white make-up and effeminate mannerisms were just right. Good use of the handkerchief. Your nasty nature, behind your engaging foppery was extremely well portrayed. “I never had any passion for you till now, for now I hate you, etc. culminating in a most obscene gesture! You naughty man! An impressive performance.

As your name implies, you should convey a fidgeting, busy, dogmatic. hot-headed fop. This I felt you did admirably! You were neglectful of your wife and deserved all you got! You looked absolutely right in the role, but I would have liked your projection to have increased, because there were one or two occasions when missed part of your dialogue. This was, nevertheless a most worthwhile effort.

Good facial expressions and you looked good – especially in breeches! Poor old hubby – little did he realize how much more attractive you were in your enforced disguise! My biggest criticism was your speed of delivery. The humour and naivety of your character would have been greatly enhanced if you had slowed down and made more effective use of the pause! Maybe, as I mentioned previously, a Dorset or Gloucestershire accent would have helped. A most commendable effort.

Your honour almost traps you into a marriage with Sparkish – the mind boggles! Your character is often thought of as being virtuous and you did indeed convey this, even though it is difficult to balance the sensible attitude you have to life with your decision to marry the foolish Sparkish. Maybe the £5000 was a hard bargain to resist. I thought you did well in this role – not an easy one to cope with. Good facial expressions and movements. The scene with Lucy before your marriage was well done. Well done!

You took to this role “‘in the manner born’ (no disrespect intended). I felt that you revelled in the part and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge it presented. You moved about the stage confidently and brought the coquetry, together with the hypocrisy of this character to a fine art, You had obviously had pleasing insight into the role and the period itself – it appeared so anyway and that’s what counts. Facial expressions and hand movements were excellent. Congratulations on a most pleasing performance.

I have banded these actors together in that they all together with Lady Fidget, pretend virtue but it is debatable whether the virtuous gang are Horner’s victims or indeed vice versa. You were all very well cast and were quite hilarious in the scene where you practically “seduced’ Horner in quite a vicious attack. As I mentioned previously, you all possessed good voices and everyone enjoyed the scene where you accompanied Horner in his song. You were all of the opinion that a man’s greatest crime would be to be declared impotent! Well done all three of you – I enjoyed your scenes very much.

Well done indeed! You both had little to say but you must be congratulated on being able to remain so static for such long periods. Much bigger roles next time? I shall look forward to that.

You looked the part well enough but the audience depends on you to make the plot very clear i.e. the hoodwink that Horner is about to perform on the married ladies of the town. It is therefore essential that your delivery is clear and deliberate. Unfortunately I had difficulty in hearing parts of your speech – but fortunately I was familiar with the play and its sub plots – not so some of the audience! Maybe it was first night nerves because I was convinced you were an experienced actor!

A good solid cameo role with which you coped well.

I could not fault you! All your tasks were carried out with speed and slickness and you all looked superb in your period costume. Congratulations. Well done indeed.

My companion and I enjoyed our evening with you and greatly appreciated the hospitality we received. Please give our thanks to the lady who looked after us so well!

Dora Brooking