AUDITION NOTICE: Before The Party by Rodney Ackland
Auditions for Rondo Theatre Company’s Spring 2017 production, a blackly hilarious comedy to be directed by John Reid, are going to take place on:
Sat 5th Nov at 10 am
Sun 6th Nov at 12pm
At the Bath Drama Hut, off Vane Street (https://goo.gl/maps/yzk4qfLGjSB2)
No preparation is required – just turn up and give it a go!
Before the Party is set in the post-war, late 40’s period of rationing, the black market, Oswald Moseley rallies, and Great imperial Britain.
The character ages are indicative only, I’ll be looking for an actress/actor who can play the role.
(mid-fifties) Mother of Kate (34), Laura (32), and Susan (12). She sets the snobbish tone of this upper class family, obsessively keeping up appearances, always anxious about what other people (other decent people) will think, a slave to class conventions, good manners and terribly good behaviour. A refined hypochondriac – she brings a wonderful absurdist touch to the satirical comedy.
(mid-sixties) Like his wife, very conscious of his social status, bristling with self-importance, only at home in a world of gentility, deference, and respectability – a would-be Tory MP, alarmed at the slightest threat of scandal. A pompous pater familias exposed to a “kitchen full of prostitutes and Nazis!”
(34) The eldest daughter – bitterly jealous of her married sister, gloomy, resentful, and deadly.
(32) A young widow, pushed into marriage at age 21 with Harold who was 42. Murdering her prat of a husband is probably the best thing that has ever happened to her – it seems to have liberated her from the worst class attitudes of her family. She is realistic, tough-minded, and thoughtful – but doomed to make the same mistake again with the new man?
(12) Blanche’s little mistake? Her immature perspective on the adults turns out to be the comic heart of Ackland’s adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s story.
Of indeterminate years. Upright, dignified, respectable working class…but with a penchant for the News of the World…
(30) Laura’s intended. A posh chap disguised as a decent bloke but with self-indulgent boozing tendencies that may not auger well for the future….
About the play…
Looking over its shoulder at The Cherry Orchard, Ackland’s play is a subtle evisceration of the attitudes and values of a typical upper middle class family in sunny Surrey, post second-world war (noises off about Nazis, anti-semitism and Sir Oswald Mosley). The heroine, Laura Skinner has returned from the Gold Coast to the bosom of her scandal-conscious, status-conscious family. The highly respectable Skinner family are dressing up for a local garden party where the local big-wigs are sure to bolster the reputation of Aubrey, the politically ambitious patriarch of the family. Although it is only eight months since her husband’s death from malaria, Laura has abandoned mourning dress and introduces a man of questionable class origins whom she appears determined to marry. Laura is troubled that she is “not a very good person” – this could be the title of the play because she isn’t yet she is. She harbours a very dark and deadly secret that will leave the family staring into the heart of social darkness – a daughter of theirs has murdered her husband. At 21, Laura was bullied into marrying Harold – a man twice her age but felt to be the right sort of marital material by her parents (a District Commissioner) – and then shipped off to Africa to play the role of obedient helpmate. Gradually, the full extent of Harold’s alcoholism and fecklessness became apparent to her….
Laura’s father, Aubrey Skinner, is about to go before the Central Conservative Committee on Monday with high hopes of becoming a candidate. The sheer horror of this potential scandal sends the parents reeling but their ability to shirk the truth does not desert them! Ackland’s subtlest addition to this fine comic story by Somerset Maugham is 12 yr old Susan – some of the funniest moments in the play arise through seeing this dysfunctional adult world through her eyes. But we also begin to sense the attitudes and values that she will innocently internalise – her resistance is a key part of the comedy.
Any questions, please contact John Reid on: