Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Watts Hall,
April 1930
Cast List
Colonel Calverley
Major Murgatroyd
Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable
Reginald Bunthorne
Archibald Grosvenor
Lady Angela
Lady Saphir
Lady Ella
Lady Jane

Notes on this performance

7. Patience 

The end is nigh…

For the first time since the Society’s formation, there is no mention of Edith Ashdown in the programme. The Hon Producer for Patience was Mr George W Mitchell (who also played the part of Bunthorne – a practice that modern day SOS Committees would certainly frown at), but there was some continuity as the MD was still Mr C J Andrews and Mrs Julius Caesar remained ‘at the piano’.

The Watts Memorial Hall has long since been demolished (Primark now occupies that space) but, considering it was often used by casts of over 50 and orchestras of around 20, one assumes that it was very spacious. However, reviews of this show illustrate that this might not have been the case, ‘Opening in almost broad daylight and playing throughout on a small stage which is not much better than a platform, the Above Bar Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society last night achieved what in all circumstances was the remarkable success of giving a really satisfying performance of Patience’ and, in another account, ‘There is no doubt that the Watts Hall stage, ingeniously contrived as it is, clever as was the organising of movement on it, is not fitted for opera and cannot be made to fit,’

The Society again decided against double-casting for this show and, after pointing out that the satire in Patience was no longer relevant to a 1930 audience, the reviewer declared, ‘Let us think about the music only, therefore, and its presentation. George Mitchell sang his pointed lines pointedly. There was humour and tunefulness in his work and plenty of imagination. Patience, Peggy Eric-Parish, has a pretty voice, especially when she does not force it, much grace, and an understanding of the part. Raymond Spencer (Grosvenor) sang delightfully. There was smoothness and tone, and his duet with Patience was one of the best things of the lot. Winifred Thorne, Cicely Siggers and Kathleen Long, who led the raptures, were excellent, and Eva Thorne as Lady Jane, made her very difficult task seem easy. Her duet with Bunthorne was the most popular of the evening. There was vigour and good singing in it.

Alfred Tomalin, William Green and Sydney Egerton, officers of the Guards, were spirited, and the choruses of maidens and Dragoons were admirably drilled in movement and in their singing, On a larger stage their second act appearance (genuinely Victorian) would have been the tour de force.’

It would seem that Patience had been entered for a competition as the minutes of a committee meeting recorded, ‘The Chairman reported that he had asked Mr Mitchell for the Adjudicator’s papers but Mr Mitchell was not prepared to give them to him.’  Presumably the Society did not win…

There was more unrest in the air though and, in two months time, there would be a radical change in the organisation of the Society… Perhaps that was the reason why nobody thought it necessary to record the financial outcome of Patience?

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Soldiers

Alfred J Tomalin (Colonel Calverley), Winifred Thorne (Lady Angela), Sydney Egerton (Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable), Cicely Siggers (Lady Saphir), William Green (Major Murgatroyd)

Photo of Lady Jane

       George W Mitchell (Reginald Bunthorne) with Eva Thorne (Lady Jane)