Salad Days - performed February 1991

By Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade

Performed with the kind permission of

Director - Dennis Murfitt


(in order of appearance)

The Tramp Charles Padgham
Jane Petra Mills
Timothy Adrian Bolton
Dons Ken Neale
Nigel Lister
Kevan Porter
Chris Mason
Sue Halsey
Alison Trenerry
Gill Baxter
Rowena Morris-Denholm
Timothy's Mother Jane Cousins
Timothy's Father Ken Neale
Aunt Prue Viv Wheatley
Lady Raeburn Val Taylor
Heloise Alison Brett
Assistant Nicola Townsend
Manicurist Jenine Weatherill
PC Boot Chris Mason
Rowena Leslie Mercer
The Bishop Chris Mead
Troppo Kevan Porter
Fosdyke Stephen Elsey
Sir Clamsby William Bert Yeates
Inspector Nigel Lister
Nigel Stephen Elsey
Manager Nigel Lister
Pianist Patience Ling
Fiona Alison Brett
Tom Smith Charles Padgham
Slave Kevan Porter
Augustine Williams Ken Neale
Asphynxia Sue Halsey
Electrode Chris Mead
Uncle Zed Bert Yeates

Production Team

Jude Hussey, Jenny Rollings, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Peggy Barber, Greg Garrad, Dennis Murfitt, Alan Laurie, Alison Brett, Alison Trenerry, Rowena Morris-Denholm, Val Taylor, Chris Wheeler, Jenny Glayzer, Patience Ling, Viv Wheatley, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

Jane and Timothy Dawes meet up in a park to plan their lives soon after their graduation. Deciding that Timothy must take the first job he's offered, a passing tramp offers them £7 a week to look after his mobile piano. Upon accepting, they discover that when the piano plays it delivers all within earshot an irresistible desire to dance! After attempts to ban the music by the Ministry of Pleasure and Pastimes, the piano vanishes, and Timothy enlists his Uncle Zed to take them in his flying saucer to retrieve it.


The Manifest Theatre Group has always endeavoured to present a variety of stage productions, catering fir all tastes and giving its players wide ranging experience. Over the years the group has presented dramas, musicals, comedies and mysteries. Almost without exception they have been outstandingly successful.
This time the Manningtree-based group has chosen Salad Days, described as a musical entertainment by Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade with music also by Julian Slade. I do not suppose I shall be popular in some quarters and no doubt many people enjoyed it, but for me the production did not seem to quite come off. It did not flow as well as usual and unless I am going deaf, dome of the performers forgot that all those in the auditorium would like to catch the asides and jokes. That is not to say it was not well performed and presented with some catchy songs, colourful dancing and amusing dialogue. The two-act play, spread over 19 scenes, was again produced by Dennis Murfitt. It tells of a piano which makes people dance and really that was the problem – it stretched the imagination too far in mixing the possible and the impossible.

On stage throughout almost all the two-and-a-half hours, Adrian Bolton and Petra Mills linked the scenes together very well but perhaps the accolades should go to two players with smaller roles. Chris Mason as PC Boot raised a laugh whenever he appeared on stage and Val Taylor as Lady Raeburn almost brought the house down in the beauty parlour scene, somehow managing to continue a telephone conversation while receiving the full beauty treatment. Alison Brett deserves a mention, playing both Heloise and Fiona, as does Kevan Porter, the miming Troppo.

On the face of it, Julian Slade’s first and greatest success is something of a ragbag of revue sketches and skits, punctuated by catchy songs with even a touch of pantomime thrown in. It is loosely held together by the story-line of two young graduates emerging from their cosy college cocoon in to the real world, only to bump into a tramps with a magic piano that compels all to dance. There is a quaint whimsicality – even innocence – about it which this happy company retains, while investing the show with a hint of tongue-in-cheek send-up.

Petra Mills’ Jane has the right, long-legged coltish charm – and looks very fifties with that blonde ponytail. Her light singing voice is also an asset and her spoken delivery an early version of the Sloane Ranger speech. Adrian Bolton is positive and solid as Timothy, though perhaps these talents are not exactly what is required here. There is a very funny statement of a thick-headed copper from Chris Mason as the ubiquitous PC Boot that, long hair or not, reaches its zenith in his report to Nigel Lister’s effete Inspector, who later manifestations as the Manager of the Nightclub, and the dress designer, get progressively more high camp. The mannequin parade in his last appearance is somewhat wasted when very bright costume ideas go begging but exposure to upstage – when there is ample room for display to the audience on the downstage right angle. Leslie Mercer’s breathy Rowena, mangling the commentary to hilarious effect only needs a fraction more projection to be a real hit.
The same is true of Sue Halsey's gulp-worthy physique as Asphixia who Sand In My Eyes requires more volume. Kevan Porter’s mute Troppo is first-rate.
Val Taylor in the Beauty Parlour brings the house down under the reactive ministrations of Alison Brett’s Heloise. The latter’s doubling as the clumpy, lumpy goll-gosh Fiona is very engaging. Bib Wheatley creates a viable character in two minutes flat as Aunt Prue and Jane Cousins, blessed with good bone structure facially, is every inch the aristocrat as Timothy’s Mother in show whose champagne gaiety fizzes by fits and starts.
Jimmy James

Photo Shoot

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