The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-moon Marigolds

by Paul Zindel

directed by Harry Tuffill

Presented at the

Maskers' Studio Theatre

on

Monday 8th to Saturday 13th May 2006

This highly successful production played to full houses throughout the run.

The Daily Echo Critique

Paul Zindel’s play packs a surprising amount of punch, though it is a familiar story of a terrifying mother (Jan Spiers), made bitter by the strain of raising two daughters – brainy, introspective Tillie (Alex Austin) and cute but borderline Ruth (Sarah-Jayne Wareham) – by herself, while “caring” for an elderly woman (Katherine Harris) to earn a measly extra fifty bucks a week. 
I take the trouble to name the cast because they are all splendid, each one bringing a different energy to this excellent production, combining to make theatrical magic.
Spiers creates a dominating presence but depicts the mother’s pipe dreams and loneliness as well, while Austin gives beautiful voice to the hopefulness Tillie represents and Wareham’s sustained physical performance is astonishing.
Harry Tuffill, the director, shows an equally good eye for every element of this show, and even soundman Geoff Grandy deserves applause.

Highly recommended; on until Saturday

Director's Notes

I first came across this play in an anthology created by the American author, Stanley Richards, entitled Best Plays of the 70's. This is a collection of ten of the most successful and award winning plays in American theatre and includes such titles as Da, The Elephant Man, Absurd Person Singular, Sleuth etc.

The play seems to be well suited to a studio production. It is in two acts with an interval. Although it is relatively short it does represent quite a technical challenge, especially in the sound department, with somewhere between 40 and 50 cues! Geoff Grandy has been busy selecting suitable music and sound effects that are so important in setting the atmosphere of the play. And don't miss his "talking telephone" I have been pleased to cast three recent new members (Jan, Sarah-Jayne, and Katherine) and that has meant that Alex Austin is not only the youngest member of the cast but also the longest standing Maskers' cast member.

One big advantage of a studio production is that we are able to build and rehearse on the set from an early stage. So a big thank you to the trusty carpenters who put it all together in double quick time. I know there are lots of others who have helped as well, my thanks to them all including Carla Evans who sketched the set, designed the flyers and programmes and advised on costume.

Harry Tuffill -- Director.


About the Author

Paul Zindel was born in 1963 and grew up on Staten Island, NYC, with his mother and sister. His father left when they were very young, and his mother worked hard to keep the family together - moving from apartment to apartment and coming up with a string get-rich-quick schemes. The constant changes in Zindel's scenery sparked his imagination:
"By the time I was ten I had gone nowhere, but seen the world. I dared to speak and act my true feelings only in fantasy and secret. That's probably what made me a writer."

Zindel wrote his first play in High School, where his classmates noted his strange, macabre sense of humour. He soon found a mentor in the playwright Edward Albee, who taught a creative writing course at the college where Zindel studied chemistry. Zindel would later credit Albee as his primary inspiration, and by the time his studies were over he had finished his second original play.

Zindel became a teacher for the next ten years, whilst continuing to write as a hobby - The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds was the first of his works to be staged. This was followed by a similarly biographical memoir of his childhood - The Pigman and Me. Paul Zindel died of cancer at the age of 66 on 27th March 2003, whilst living in New York.

 
The Cast
Beatrice Jan Spiers
Tillie Alex Austin
Ruth Sarah-Jayne Wareham
Nanny/Janice Katherine Harris

Production Team
Director Harry Tuffil
Production Manager Sarah Murdoch
Stage Manager Geoff Grandy
Sound Tony Lawther
Production Design Carla Evans
Set Construction David Jupp, Graham Buchanan, Ken Hann
Set Painting Ken Spencer
Lighting Greg White, Jez Minns
Properties Neil Iosson
Publicity Angie Stansbridge
Box Office Alan Baker
Front of House Julia Jupp
Wardrobe Olive Nash
Photography Clive Weeks
 

 

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