The Private Secretary – Blackwood Players Inc

The Private Secretary – Blackwood Players Inc

Is there anything new in the world? Who would have thought that a play written in German in the early 1800’s by Gustav von Moser would have any relevance in this day and age. Charles Hawtrey adapted the play and with some minor updates from the Director Damien White, the Blackwood Players have put on a timeless piece of stagecraft.

The plot revolves around young Douglas Cattermole and the mistaken identity between him and a private secretary with his attempt to sow his wild oats in order to please his aunt whom he has never met. The play was presented in three acts and developed from a reasonably slow start through a build up in the second act and a memorable finish in the third act.

John Charles Maney was convincing as Douglas and his strong and clear voice was required as the acoustics in the Blackwood Memorial Hall are not particularly conducive to natural presentation. This was also true when Mrs Stead played by Deb Jefferies set the scene in act one.

It was pleasing that all actors were able to project their voices so that the plot was not lost. Although by projecting some words were lost by the rapidity of speech. Scott Wood as Harry Marsland was in his first play and will overcome this small deficiency in future roles.

Rebecca Gardner as Mrs Cattermole was flawless with her upper crust accent which she carried  through the entire show. Her ‘liver’ did not distract and added to continuity.

Anita Pipperell played the part of Miss Ashford and her performance was highlighted by her contortion like actions particularly during the spirit scenes.

The real private secretary Mr Spalding, played by Ornjen Trisic, stood up to all the situations that were imposed on him and showed his ability to perform standing up, lying down and on the floor covered by a bean bag.

The performances by Annie Gladdis as Miss Edith and her friend Miss Eva played by Vanessa Ricks almost stole the show with their girlie antics that reflected on the era in to which the play has been adapted.

Scott Brokenshire as Sydney Gibson and Melanie Remen as Mrs Marsland rounded out the cast with strong supporting roles and some classic lines such as the Dicky Di Do song she heard in the pub.

There were two minimal sets with black curtain surrounds with well placed props that endeavoured to make good use of the large stage. The lighting and sound effects were also minimal which was what was required for this play and did not take anything from the players but supported them.

This was light entertainment performed by keen amateur actors. It was well directed and the cast showed their enthusiasm for the stage. Well worth seeing.

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