Soham Grammarians : The Taming of the Shrew, 1957

Programme for Friday July 26th, courtesy of Donald Monk (1950)

Characters in the Play

The Prologue

Christopher Sly (a Drunken Tinker) CF CROPLEY
Hostess of the Inn CYNTHIA YARDY
A Nobleman CC TAIT
First Huntsman CD CRESSWELL
Second Huntsman MK WHITEHEAD
Third Huntsman MJ HALLAM
Bartholmew (the Nobleman's Page) TJ ROBERTS

'The Taming of the Shrew'

Lucentio (a Gentleman of Pisa, in love with Bianca) M HUMAN
Tranio (Servant to Lucentio) DA HOBBS
Baptista (rich Gentleman of Padua) GL BURTON
Katharina (elder Daughter to Baptista) SYLVIA WYMER
Bianca (younger Daughter to Baptista) MARILYN WILLIAMS
Gremio (Suitor to Bianca) RJ TASSELL
Hortensio (Suitor to Bianca) J HUMPHREYS
Biondello (Servant to Lucentio) JW NEWMAN
Petruchio (a Gentleman of Verona) JC FRANKLIN
Grumio (Servant to Petruchio) KJ ELLINGHAM
A Widow (in love with Hortensio) LORNA FREEMAN
Curtis (aged Servant to Petruchio) E SIMPER
Nathaniel, Servant to Petruchio JR BROWN
Gregory, Servant to Petruchio PJ BIGNELL
Philip, Servant to Petruchio KA THOMPSON
A Haberdasher JP HEROD
A Travelling Pedant of Mantua CJ RUSHVincentio (old Gentleman of Pisa, Father to Lucentio) DOF MONK
Pages to Baptista: MJ POLLARD, GD ROUSE

source: Mike Hallam SG51: "Centre stage is Petruchio (Jeremy Franklin), hand outstretched across him is me acting the part of the Tailor who has been asked to make Kate’s wedding dress, and looking glum on the right is Grumio, same form as me, started 1951, Ken Ellingham. There seems to be a real girl in the background (unknown). Franklin was our star of stage and screen then, much admired, and I recall his great performance as Hamlet." [1956, with EHS]
[Apparently Act IV Scene iii: Cast member Lorna Delanoy née Freeman says she can't identify the girl. Mike is certain it isn't Sylvia Wymer - "far too timid to be Kate" - so it could be the Sempstress (Cynthia Yardy) [who is not officially in this scene]. "I have a job remembering exactly what happened but I think the actors were posed specially for the photo rather than it being taken while a performance was in progress ... the pictures of the actors for the record were more important than photographing ... the play as performed."]

The Young Ladies of the Cast are from

The main play is set in and near Baptista's house in Padua and Petruchio's country house near Verona, in late fifteenth century Italy. It is performed by a company of strolling players for the special benefit of Sly the tinker, who, found in a drunken sleep by a nobleman and his attendants, is deceived by them into thinking that he is a great lord who has been out of his wits for fifteen years.

There will be one short interval. The beginning of the performance and its resumption after the interval will be indicated by the playing of background music.

The incidental recorder and harpsichord music is by Henry Lawes, Telemann and Serallié.

Production: Miss E Barr and Mr. RN Joiner


Designed by Mr. PJ Askem.
Made by Miss E Barr, Mrs D Drake, Mrs V Pettit, Mrs KM Boyce, Mrs Askem, Mrs Ford, Mrs Jones, Mrs Kitchen, Mrs Thomas, Mrs Waller

Wardrobe Mistress: Mrs Thomas
Business Manager: Mr. CJ Ford
The School is particularly grateful to all the ladies who worked so hard to make the costumes; also to Peacock Bros., Soham, and Mr. SA Human for the loan of tarpaulins.

Soham Grammarian Spring 1958


"The Sun! The Sun! It is not moonlight now," cried Katharina to Petruchio as she gazed into a sky which torrented rain from its ominous grey bosom.

No wonder Mr. Joiner has been stricken by some fatal malady and lies in a bed of fever deliriously shouting extracts from "The Taming of the Shrew" which the Sixth Form produced at the end of the Summer Term. This was the first full-scale outdoor production which we have put on, and both producers and cast were completely at the mercy of the weather which was anything but constant. Rehearsals often had to be rapidly stopped, and tarpaulins swiftly pulled over the stage, while the cast raced for cover under the trees or into school to avoid the torrential downpour. So frequently did the showers come on, that the Technical Sixth (those bastions of every S.G.S. production) rigged up a tent in the shrubbery for immediate and convenient protection.

Although rehearsals were disjointed they were very thorough in a way which only Miss Barr can effect. To cut a long story short, the end of a breathless three weeks of late nights and frequent wettings found us ready to put on the Soham Grammar School outdoor production of "The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare.

Again we received the invaluable services of Miss Sylvia Wymer, Miss Marilyn Williams, Miss Cynthia Yardy and Miss Lorna Freeman from Ely High School, and they gave us the polished performances which "Hamlet" had taught us to expect from them. Sylvia Whymer as Katharina showed great versatility in her portrayal of the hightempered shrew - a character very difficult to play on account of the sudden change of temperament which must take place at the climax of the play. Marilyn Williams as Bianca was everything we would imagine a sweet-tempered, beautiful and much-courted lady of Medieval Italy would be.

A sensational innovation was provided by the use of Poona and his owner Miss Ann Ford. It was a delight to watch the faces of the audience as Poona emerged sedately from a laurel bush with Katharina and Petruchio perched precariously on his back: the expressions varied from terror-stricken to amused, incredulous to nervous. Miss Ann Ford as the groom combined beauty and intelligence sufficient to soothe Poona on the frequent occasions on which he grew nervous.

There was much good acting to be seen on the male side of the cast. Franklin, of course, carried off the part of Petruchio with the superb aplomb which only he can command. The part of the swashbuckling, devil-may-care Petruchio was quite opposite of the moody, inward-looking Hamlet, and Franklin's great versatility was thus shown.

The whole play was produced as actually being done by a company of strolling players, mass entrance being made from the distance, the players carrying baggage and wheeling carts. This gave a pleasantly careless atmosphere to the play which is often so lacking in Shakespearean productions. It is amazing the mistakes that can be made and glossed over in such an informal production: this is probably exactly how the strolling players acted plays in the reign of Good Queen Bess.

As Christopher Sly, the drunken tinker, Cropley was perfectly cast. His imitation of a drunk being thrown out of an inn was uncanny in its accuracy. Our "discovery" for the play must, I think, be Hobbs. This was the first time we have seen him on the stage and his portrayal of Tranio was lively in the extreme. His master, Human, made an excellent lover to Bianca; I could imagine him as being the perfect Romeo if ever he has to act in that play.

We saw Polonius again under the nominal guise of Baptista, but still played by the "old man" of the company, Burton. His wagging forefinger, shambling gait and quavering voice gave a remarkable resemblance to an old man. As the faded dandy, Tassell won the hearts of the audience with his rose and his effeminate talk and dress: I hear that his performance is still spoken of with awe at Ely High School.

Among the smaller parts Ellingham as Grumio and Newman as the dusky Biondello were outstanding. Brown, Herod and Hallam also deserve honourable mention.

Despite the unfortunate weather, the play went off with a swing, and we like to feel that the rain-soaked audience was not applauding and laughing out of sympathy. The Trojan labours of Miss Barr and Mr. Joiner were not wasted.
J.H., VI Arts.

If you have another review or photos for this production or took part in it please contact the Editor
This play was also performed in 1942 and 1972 .

last updated 9 Nov 2007: 13 Jun 20