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by Thomas Hardy
Far from the Madding Crowd - Wimborne Drama, Tivoli Theatre
THEY pulled it off.
Wimborne Drama's production of Far from the Madding Crowd at Wimborne's Tivoli Theatre was an ambitious project, but it worked.
It goes without saying that Thomas Hardy's work is much loved in the Wimborne area, if nothing else because of the strong local connection. The author lived at Lanherne in The Avenue for a short period and Horton Tower featured in the cock-fighting scene in the 1967 screen adaptation.
The film starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch is a hard act to follow, but Tony Feltham, who has been a member of the club for 20 years, deserves congratulations for his directorial debut.
The required frequent change of scenes could have presented problems but there was an effective solution. An empty stage became a sheep filled field, a country house or a flower filled wood simply by the projection of photos on a screen at the back of the stage. In addition, cast members subtly moved pieces of furniture when the lights dimmed.
The main cast members, Yvonne Henley as Bathsheba, who was loved and admired by three men of contrasting character, Dave Williams as Mr Boldwood, Paul Dodman as Gabriel Oak and Tom Williams as Sergeant Troy, were all excellent portrayals, but on this occasion, I would particularly like to congratulate three actors in smaller, yet important roles.
Joe Brooks, veteran of 50 productions for Wimborne Drama, stole the stage on several occasions with his portrayal of Joseph Poorgrass, a simple soul with a liking for the odd glass or three.
Jan Stevenson is frequently cast in the role of a servant - on this occasion she was Liddy Smallwood - but she does it with great panache and with a subtle humour.
Thirdly Dave Pile, a relaxed and confident actor was definitely on form as farm worker Jan Coggan.
The production was well attended, and remarks I overheard as I left the theatre were all positive. Well done Wimborne Drama.
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