The Light of Heart, Wivelsfield Little Theatre.
FOR AN engrossing production of Emlyn Williams’ “The Light of Heart” director Elizabeth Burton of Wivelsfield Little Theatre transformed the stage into a 1930s London attic-room. The intricate set added to the claustrophobic living conditions of “has-been” actor Maddoc Thomas (Laurence Leng) and his crippled daughter Cattrin (Victoria Brewer) by allowing the audience to be aware of approaching visitors before they entered the cramped room.
Downstairs live cockney Fan (Maggie McNally), always on the lookout for the man of her life; Barty (Paul Welch), Maddoc’s drinking partner-in-crime and Mrs Banner (Jo Callaghan), a sweet shop owner who‘s excitement in life is to join the crowds at film premiers. All are loving helpers or hindrances in Cattrin’s valiant efforts to return Maddoc to the stage, a pursuit that has meant a lot of self-sacrifice on her part in the constant battle to buoy up her father’s self-confidence. Another regular visitor is Bevan, a Welsh police constable who rescues Maddoc from drunken affrays.
Robert (Tim Bishop) comes to live in the room opposite and falls in love with Cattrin. Fortune shines on the lovers as Maddoc finally gets his big chance when a wealthy long-time fan, Mrs. Lothian (Christine Elwell-Sutton), backs a theatre so that he can play King Lear. With Maddoc’s genius once more launched, Cattrin will have the opportunity for life and laughter as Robert’s wife in America. Or will she?
The cast had big-hearted characters and lines to work on, which they carried forward to great effect, fully engaging the audience with their resilience and peccadilloes. The backstage crew deftly re-arranged the living accommodation to serene classical music and in the gripping denouement you could have heard a pin drop.
The programme was an added joy, with a replica of the front page of “Theatre World” featuring a photograph of Emlyn Williams and shots from the 1940 premier of the play at the Apollo Theatre echoed by the present day cast.
The whole thing was an outstanding team effort and showed that amateur drama is alive and very well in Wivelsfield.