Harrow County School for Boys

The Duke in Darkness - School Dramatic Production 1950

Audiences who came to see the playing of "The Duke in Darkness" by the School Dramatic Club showed on March 23rd, 24th and 25th, their appreciation of the excellent entertainment offered them.  The Society chose its play well - all male parts, a limited dramatis personae of eight players and four main parts, the set unchanged throughout.  To the players and management named below, to Mr. Farnham-Flower, who produced it, and to Mr. Oliver, who designed and painted the setting of the castle interior, the prison of the Duke - to all these our thanks are unstintingly given.  For the production and playing of a drama of major length is the result of hard work, skilful planning, and creative study.  Mr. Farnham-Flower as producer trained his players to move naturally, to speak clearly, to assume and maintain their interpretation of character so that the story unfolded itself naturally and a unified impression was made.

The plot was centralised in the Duke of Laterraine (Bernard Carroll), shown after 15 years of captivity as staunch of heart, physically weakened, and simulating total blindness to his captors.  This dual presentation was exacting but admirably played by Carroll who was, perforce, on the stage the whole time and whose memorising of a most extensive part deserves special commendation.  With a secure ease which never faltered, he moved through the emotional crises of the breakdown into insanity of his fellow prisoner, Gribaud (Richard Burnet), of Gribaud's releaseby poisoning, and of his own path to freedom.  Burnett conveyed the pathos of his breakdown with no false emotion or extravagances of action.  His death was admirably done.  Voulain (Tom Moore) was every inch a faithful liegeman of the Duke, discovered after five years of veiled service to his master.  A good piece of contrasting character study was the Duke of Lamorre (Barry Clifton), who swaggered commendably as a dissolute and callois overlord into whose hands Laterraine had fallen fifteen years previously.  To see him outwitted was a majr satisfaction.  The Count D'Aublaye (Hugh Probyn), Lamorre's shadow in malice, supplemented his master's villainy with devilry of the subtle, sneering kind associated with affectation of manner.  This was Probyn's first appearance with the Club.  Grassin (Bernard Glanville), Roubot (John Simpson), Dubois (Michael Casemore), had minor parts, adequately played, in the final release of the Duke to freedom; Marteau (James Henderson) and Brulart (Brian Seagrove), filled in the pictur as henchman and servant.

Never once was the prompter's aid necessary; the requisite rope was always ready to hand; the red-hot poker glowed purple for an immoderately long time - mere quibbles these when gesture was appropriate, when actors spoke into the hall and could be heard even at the back, and when the pace was well-regulated to the movement or suspense of the action.

The management and lighting must also receive the justly earned reward of our thanks.  Though unseen they are important: Wayte handled the lighting effects well.

To all mentioned above our thanks for keeping the Dramatic Society in being and playing in a manner equal in every way to the best in past years.

from Gaytonian, July 1950.

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