The Hunting of the Snark

June 11, 2002 to June 15, 2002

By Bob Hescott

Directed by Richard Stevenson

" Just the place for a Snark ! "...the Bellman cried, as he landed his crew with care; supporting each man on the top of the tide by a finger entwined in his hair."

Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem is transported to London during the Blitz as a gang of children explore the bomb sites that have become their giant adventure playgrounds - where exciting and grizzly finds can be made. Baker, a German Jewish refugee, struggles to be accepted, no-one ever believes a word Barmy says, whilst Butcher, the bully, seeks to replace Bellman as gang leader - as they all hunt for the mysterious Snark... But will its discovery solve all their problems, or will the Snark turn out to be a Boojum and destroy them all?

" But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day, If your Snark be a Boojum ! For then you will softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again ! "
 
Cast
 
Bellman................Paul Wilson                      Bonkers...........................Wendy Beric
Beryl....................Rachel Dale                      Balaclava......................Helen Hancock
Barmy...............Janet Townes                       Brains..........................Sue Stevenson
Butcher................Chris Nixon                       Barrister........................Penny Haynes
Billiard....................Sue Orme                       Baker..............................Mike Asprey 
Banker................Emily Peers                       Narrator 1.......................Carole Challis
Beaver...........Terry Stevenson                       Narrator 2 .....................Audrey Warne
 
For  The Marlowe Players
 
Stage Manager / Wardrobe .................................. Marjorie Howarth
Assistant Stage Manager ............................................. Gil Townes
Set Design ................................................................. Gil Townes
Set Construction........... Gil Townes, Vince Morris & Team Marlowes
Properties .............. Pauline Green, Rita Shipley & Pauline Germain
Lighting ....................................................................... Phil Upton
Sound .......................................................................... Pat Upton
Continuity .................................................................. Jen Weaver
Front of House ........... Rita Shipley, Anthea Blundell, Pauline Green
 
Review

As I entered the Playhouse Studio, I thought: "It looks like a bomb's hit it". Precisely the effect desired by this outstanding production.

At the outset, standing over the debris, a bunch of dishevelled, dirty kneed adolescents deliver poignant recollections of World War II bombings of London - and "the acrid smell of death".

Then this gaggle of kids play at hunting "the snark".

We soon realise that Lewis Carroll's epic nonsense poem about a search for a mythical beast has been adapted, albeit tenuously, into a story of exploration amidst the Blitz.

We are tellingly reminded that in spite of the evacuation in the early years of World War II, there were still plenty of kids roaming the rubble in an exhilarating new playground.

We also soon realise that these grown-ups who are playing these schoolchildren (a la Blue Remembered Hills) are uniformly excellent.

It is enormous credit to the tightly co-ordinated ensemble cast to see them conveying all the carefree camaraderie and excitability of kids' gangs, with their joshing, taunting, fibbing and fierce but also friendly banter.

Paul Wilson, as Bellman, is a convincing gang leader; Rachael Dale is beautifully bullish and bullying as "bossy knickers" Beryl; Mike Asprey delivers an affecting performance as the shy, cowering outsider Baker, the put-upon Jewish refugee; and Terry Stevenson is a wonderfully sad, sympathetic, speech-impaired Beaver.

The compelling performances by the cast compensate for a thin narrative, though any youngster studying the social history of WWII will find as rich pickings as these kids certainly did following the air raids (I never realised such mass looting occurred).

Richard Stevenson has directed here with care and flair.

I was mightily impressed by the effective, and never overstated, lighting, and strong yet subtly rendered sound effects.

And what or who exactly is The Snark? That would be telling.

All right, it's a Boojum. It's also a stunning finale to an exceptional production.

- Ashley Franklin

            
 eagle_awards.gif
 Mike Asprey was voted best supporting actor for his role as Baker.
"The Hunting of the Snark" was nominated for best production.