Soham Grammarians : The Taming of the Shrew, 1942

courtesy of Wilkes Walton (1936)

Soham Grammar School Dramatic Society
" The Taming of the Shrew" by

Characters in order of their appearance


Christopher Sly, a tinker ... FRED HOCKLEY
Bartholomew, a page ... JOHN BARWICK
A Messenger ... DENIS SINDALL


Lucentio, son to Vincentio, in love with Bianca, disguised as Cambio, a teacher of languages ... ERIC FORDHAM
Tranio, his man (later disguised as Lucentio) ... ANTHONY LAVENDER
Baptista, a rich gentleman of Padua ... NORMAN SNEESBY
Gremio, an old gentleman ... HARRY SINGER
Katharina, the Shrew, daughter of Baptista ... PETER NlCHOLLS
Bianca, daughter of Baptista ... HOWARD MAYES
Hortensio, disguised as Licio, a Music Master ... VINCENT MARTIN
Biondello, servant to Lucentio ... JOHN TUCK
Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, suitor to Katharina ... HERBERT WALTON
Grumio, servant to Petruchio ... RICHARD WATTS

Servants at Petruchio's House:
Nathaniel ... DONALD KNIGHTS
Joseph ... PETER SYKES

The Pedant (disguised as Vincentio) ... GEORGE ALPS
A Haberdasher ... IVAN HOWLETT
Vincentio, an old Merchant of Pisa ... STANLEY BALL
A Widow (afterwards married to Hortensio) ... GEORGE WELLS
A Tapster ... IVAN HOWLETT

Scene: Sometimes in Padua and sometimes in
Petruchio's House.

Music from de Falla, Liszt, Scarlatti, Smetana and

The Play directed by Cecil Crouch.

There will be a short interval after Act III., during which a
collection will be made for
The R.A.F. Benevolent Fund.

Costumes from School Wardrobe - adapted by Mrs. Skipworth and Mrs. Banyard.

Prompters - Miss M. Gimbert and Mr. H. Peacock.

Stage Managers - Mr. C. C. Copland, I. Howlett, G. Alps, and Mrs. W. Fyson.

Programme Cover designed and cut by E. Fordham.



from the Autumn 1942 Soham Grammarian

Two very good performances of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" were given on the School lawn on the last Friday and Saturday of the Summer Term.

The weather was almost ideal for an open-air performance, and a large number of parents and friends of the school attended. A silver collection was taken during the interval after the third act, the sum of 12 12s. 0d. being raised for the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund.

The play was very ably directed and produced by Mr. Cecil Crouch, with Mr. C. C. Copland, Alps and Howlett as stage managers, and Miss M. Gimbert and Mr. H. L. Peacock as prompters. The costumes were taken from the school wardrobe and ingeniously adapted by Mrs. Skipworth and Mrs. Banyard.

The beauty of the incidental music by de Falla, Liszt, Scarlatti, Smetana, and Tschaikowski was intensified by the sylvan surroundings, which were at the peak of their loveliness.

The cast was composed - with only one exception - of present-day scholars. The exception was an Old Boy, Fred Hockley; his part as Sly, the tinker, was extremely well played, especially his antics in the Lord's bed chamber. The Lord (Derek Darby) was pleasantly elegant in appearance, and, apart from Sly's, his voice was the best in the Induction. William Hawes had little chance to show his ability as the hostess, but he made the best of his few short speeches.

As Bartholomew, a page pretending to be Sly's wife, John Barwick was well-suited; he looked demurely piquant as the wife of a supposed Lord, and preserved a rather pert dignity throughout his struggles with Sly. Denis Sindall, as a messenger, and various attendants (Leslie Hitch, Dennis Rowlands and Brian Webster) completed the characters in the Induction.

In the play itself, Peter Nicholls was excellent as the Shrew, Katharina. His voice was loud and clear, with plenty of modulation, and in his facial expressions he surpassed any other person in the play. His understanding of the part, and the way in which he changed from the violent and unpleasant shrew to a faithful and devoted wife, were quite unusual for a boy of 13. Bianca, sister to the shrew (Howard Mayes), was a pleasing combination of long-suffering and wiliness. Baptista (Norman Sneesby) was a well-characterised part, not at all overdone, and the same naturalness applies to Vincentio (Stanley Ball), who performed the difficult task of simulating an old man's voice and at the same time keeping it loud and remarkably clear.

Petruchio (Herbert Walton) and Grumio (Richard Watts), his servant, were well portrayed; Walton really got into the part of the swashbuckling Petruchio, and his voice harmonized with the verve and gusto of his actions. Grumio, however, stole nearly every scene in which he appeared; his clowning and expressions, especially with the property horse, were a joy to watch; he should make a good Falstaff.

As suitors to Bianca, Gremio (Harry Singer), Hortensio (Vincent Martin), and Lucentio (Eric Fordham) were quite good. Singer, a Czech, spoke well and used his hands to good effect; Hortensio had one of the clearest voices in the cast, and he made full use of facial expression. George Wells did well as the widow who became Hortensio's wife.

George Alps was very effective, both as the Pedant and, later, disguised as Vincentio. Tranio (Anthony Lavender) made a good servant to Lucentio, as did Biondello (John Tuck), the latter speaking up well. Petruchio's servants (Stanley Darby, Donald Knights, Kenneth Sykes, Peter Sykes, Michael Hepher) made up a comedy team of their own and worked together quite well. Robert Rynsard made a comical tailor, and Ivan Howlett looked well as a Haberdasher and, later, as a Tapster. Brian Webster was dashing as an officer.

The players received a well-deserved round of applause when they took their bow. The property horse (Alan Talbot and William Allen) came in for an ovation of its own, after wandering round the audience and then sitting on a step!


Wilkes Walton (1936) writes: This programme for The Taming of the Shrew has no date but was 1942, the year between School Cert and the Higher for me. The cricket book shows me opening the innings (for the first time ever) on 25th July 1942; we were batting second and I had to dash off (after eight overs) to get changed for the performance.

We never knew about the Induction since they never rehearsed with us. Fred Hockley had left and was probably waiting to go into the Fleet Air Arm.

I haven't got the cover so we shall never see Eric Fordham's design. I did not know Mrs Skipworth. I assume Mrs Banyard was where Cecil Crouch lodged. Mrs Gimbert was the HM's secretary and Herbert Peacock was the History master. Mr Copland was the Woodwork master and I assume that Mrs Fyson was the mother of Oliver and Mickey.

[Editor: Fred Hockley was among those who did not return from WW2]

If you have a review or photos for this production or took part in it please contact the Editor
This play was performed again in the mid 1950s and in 1971/2.

page created 14 Nov 2003: last update 13 Sep 2010