Wednesday 15th to Saturday 25th July 2009
The Salisbury Journal wrote:
At the outset, we were warned there would be acts of violence and scenes of a sexual nature. Much to our delight, that is exactly what we got as Henry Fielding’s boisterous tale of the original man behaving badly unfolded on the archery lawn at Hamptworth Lodge. Debauchery, swordplay, fisticuffs and frantic disrobing abounded as Maskers’ fast and furiously funny production took us from Tom’s uncertain beginnings to a happy, firework-fuelled end in the arms of his sweetheart.
Everything about this production was top-notch – glorious setting, immaculate organisation both backstage and front of house, technical precision and wonderful performances. Director Ken Hann invested the rough and tumble with huge energy, great pace and plenty of comic business handled adeptly by his talented cast and, on top of that, he turned in a small, but perfectly formed, cameo as the constable.
The title role demands a first rate performer and found it in Rob Praine, who was superb as the loveable rogue whose love for Sophia (sweetly played by Eleanor Marsden) is nearly scuppered by nasty nephews and libidinous ladies. His command of the stage was exceptional, his comic timing perfect and his connection with the audience immediate as he took nearly as many liberties with the front rows of the audience as he did with the willing wenches on stage. Among the latter, Joanna Russel shone as saucy Molly. Philippa Burt’s voluptuous Mrs Waters, Rachael Courage’s devious Mrs Fitzpatrick and Brian Stansbridge’s effete Lord Fellamar also stood out, and the always excellent John Souter was on top form as bibulous Squire Western.
All in all, a roistering romp to chase away the stormiest July clouds.
The Southern Evening Echo wrote:
Tom Jones, abandoned as an illegitimate baby, is raised by Squire Allworthy and grows into an amiable rascal, fond of the fair sex, and seemingly irresistible to them .... From the opening monologue, Rob Praine threw himself into the role of Tom, playing the character with tremendous charm, charisma and an underlying vulnerability that suggested Tom was less a lothario and more a casualty of passion for the women in his life and their manipulative ways.
With stunning period costumes and the beautiful setting of Hamptworth Lodge gardens, this infamous bawdy comedy, although perhaps a little safe and not as risqué as expected, contained much merriment, complete wit fights and farce trademarks. Great fun!
Fielding was educated at Eton College, where he established a lifelong friendship with William Pitt the Elder. His younger sister, Sarah, also became a successful writer. After a romantic episode with a young woman that ended in his getting into trouble with the law, he went to London where his literary career began. In 1728, he travelled to Leiden to study classics and law at the University. However, due to lack of money he was obliged to return to London and he began writing for the theatre, some of his work being savagely critical of the contemporary government under Sir Robert Walpole.
The Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737 is alleged to be a direct result of his activities. The particular play that triggered the Licensing Act was The Vision of the Golden Rump, but Fielding's satires had set the tone. Once the Licensing Act passed, political satire on the stage was virtually impossible, and playwrights whose works were staged were viewed as suspect. Fielding therefore retired from the theatre and resumed his career in law and, in order to support his wife Charlotte Cradock and two children, he became a barrister.
His lack of money sense meant that he and his family often endured periods of poverty, but he was also helped by Ralph Allen, a wealthy benefactor who later formed the basis of Squire Allworthy in Tom Jones. After Fielding's death, Allen provided for the education and support of his children.
Fielding never stopped writing political satire and satires of current arts and letters. His Tragedy of Tragedies of Tom Thumb (for which Hogarth designed the frontispiece) was, for example, quite successful as a printed play.
|The Cast (in order of appearance)|
|Tom Jones||Rob Praine|
|Squire Allworthy||Alan Watson|
|Jenny Jones||Philippa Burt|
|Bridget Allworthy||Clare Minns|
|Squire Western||John Souter|
|Molly Seagrim||Joanna Russel|
|Sophia Western||Eleanor Marsden|
|Mrs Fitzpatrick||Rachael Courage|
|Honour Seagrim||Linda Webb|
|Captain Fitzpatrick||David Cradduck|
|Lord Fellamar||Brian Stansbridge|
|Bystander 1||Andy Burrows|
|Bystander 2||Neil Parsons|
|Woman with basket||Jenny Watson|
|Bystander 3||Catherine Tarrant|
|Bystander 4||Christine Baker|
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Based on one of the cleverest and funniest novels ever written, and directed by Ken Hann, this is a ribald and rowdy romp through the mansions and taverns of Georgian England.
Tom Jones, born a foundling, grows into a gallant and irresistible hero who gets himself into all kinds of trouble through his good nature and his eye for the ladies. When his amorous escapades earn the disapproval of his benefactor, Tom is banished to make his own fortune. He undergoes a variety of trials and adventures in his quest to be reunited with his one true love, Sophie. What will be Tom’s fate, happiness with Sophie or the gallows?
|For the Maskers|
|Casting Director||Ken Spencer|
|Assistant Director||Brian Stansbridge|
|Stage Manager||Angie Barks|
|Technical Manager||Jamie McCarthy|
|Lighting||Tony Lawther, David Illsley, Clive Weeks|
|Sound||Tony Lawther, David Fancett, Nathan Weeks|
|Sound Design||Jamie McCarthy, Geoff Grandy|
|Wardrobe||Serena Brown, Susan Wilson, Catherine Tarrant|
|Properties||Ella Lockett, Gill Buchanan, Alison Tebbutt, Liz Hill|
|Set Construction||Roger Lockett, Graham Buchanan, Geoff Cook, Ken Spencer|
|Set Dressing||Sarah and Steve Russell|
|Fight Arrangement||Paul Benzing|
|Voice Coach||Fran Morley|
|Front of House Casting||Pete Hill|
|Front of House Managers||Geoff & Pam Cook & team of Maskers|
|Box Office Manager||Angela Stansbridge|
|Publicity and Marketing||Angela Stansbridge, Ian Morley, Geoff & Pam Cook, Geoff Wharam|
|Front of House Display||Luciana Lattanzi|
click on a photo to enlarge it