‘Quartermaine's Terms' by Simon Gray
Directed by: David Hemsley-Brown
Design by: David Hemsley-Brown
Lighting and Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: Caroline Dooley, Paul Halliwell, Polly King, Nick Lund, Richard Parish, Derek Watts and David Webb
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK
‘though the jokes are excellent, the piece cuts deep.’ – (Daily Telegraph)
‘the comedy is beautifully stated and even personal tragedies are underlined with running gags that ring with truthfulness’ – (The Times)
Set in the 1960’s, Simon Gray’s quintessentially British drama is a sparklingly witty but ultimately moving account of several years in the lives of seven teachers at a small school in Cambridge which teaches English to foreigners. Never has the celebrated author been more amusing and more touching than in this thoroughly delightful portrait of a mediocre but lovable English schoolteacher St. John Quartermaine and his fellow faculty members.
SURREY ADVERTISER REVIEW OF ‘QUARTERMAINE'S TERMS’ BY JEFF THOMSON
For their 25th production the courageous Lighted Fools Theatre Company presented Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray. The script is possibly Gray’s best work with a challenging Chekhovian introspection, but is not regularly seen on a local basis. Perhaps this is because of the melancholic theme of isolation and a slow burn format.
The play is a challenge. Simon Gray drip feeds us information about the characters and only slowly admits us into the lives of seven teachers of English to foreign students.
The setting is an austere staff room of the Cull-Loomis School in which Eddie Loomis (Richard Parish) fusses with a pedantic irritability. He chides his staff over dress codes, conduct and reputation but this does not disguise his college is little more than third rate.
St John Quartermaine (Nick Lund) is initially a reassuring fixture – pleasant and accommodating. Progressively, however, Simon Gray hints at a dull, uneventful life of rented rooms and probably rented relationships.
Quartermaine is a ‘fixture’ in more ways than one – fixed to his staff room chair and fixed to a life of stifling routine. Nick Lund delivers a performance of acute observation. He communicates Quartermaine’s anxiety to please with a raised brow, a timed hesitancy, a weak smile. It was a performance of detailed, character excellence.
The cast collectively offer poignant performances, from Caroline Dooley’s repressed Melanie, to Paul Halliwell’s Mark focusing on ‘his novel’ while ignoring family needs. Both brought a ‘back story’ of understanding to their roles.
Tension was released by the antics of accident-prone Derek (David Webb) but empathy developed as we processed the effect on Anita (PollyKing) of her husband’s philandering. But it is Derek Watts as Henry that delivers the final cruelty as the Christmas holiday begins. Quartermaine is given notice. That it savagely bites says much for Derek Watts, the cast and director, David Hemsley-Brown.
Hemsley-Brown had slowly revealed the emotional bankruptcy of the staff room, building collective frustrations in a leisurely manner that finally ripped into a stunned auditorium with Lund’s last stifled scream. Quartermaine’s last term had finished.
COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON ‘QUARTERMAINE'S TERMS’
A super production, which we thoroughly enjoyed
What a fantastic performance it was last night! Very much enjoyed and full of admiration
Thank you for last night’s play. I thought it was brilliant! It dealt with deep issues of what it means to be human (loneliness, jealousy, bereavement, friendship, desire etc) in a dramatic, compelling, moving and authentic way
Another fabulous show - congratulations. I'm convinced Melanie gave her mum a shove!
Well done to you all. Unusual to see so many people on your stage
Just to say how much we enjoyed the play.......all of you were terrific and really inhabited the various characters. First class and for our money the best we have seen you do
Thought St John was fab - found myself getting most agitated that the others behaved as if he were transparent and used him so terribly
I enjoyed the play this afternoon so much. It was brilliantly acted by all the cast, making us laugh one minute then feel so sad the next. Thank you for a fantastic afternoon
I really thought Quartermaine was great and was strongly tempted to take him home for TLC
Thank you to all the Lighted Fools team for another wonderful evening's entertainment. We really enjoyed the production - a very clever piece which brought back memories of the 1960s staffrooms we both experienced in our unqualified years and on teaching practice
Much melancholy and many hilarious bits too. Sorry if I laughed in the wrong places. It was just one of the ‘how's Susan?’s with nobody waiting for the answer........ and we shall never know what the moment in Norfolk was!
October dates already in our diaries - please let us know when tickets will be going on sale
Just a note to say how much we enjoyed the play on Thursday - such a clever script and all the cast were impeccable - can't mention favourites as they were all so good tho' Eddie and St John, in particular, had us dewy eyed at the end!
You must all be very satisfied and happy with yet another success!
Thank you for a most entertaining evening last night it was an excellent production of a very entertaining piece
It was a unanimous vote last night that the play was the best yet. We have all been talking about it since and comparing our favourite bits and who we thought were the best actors
Yesterday' matinee performance was memorable. Congratulations to all. Even the seats became more comfortable!
I loved Eddie's unfailing bonhomie and felt so sad for him after Thomas' death
Human complexity in one staff room!
Fab evening - moving and funny play, great cast, lovely set. So glad I came
I loved the fact that this play centred on real-life situations which are so easy to identify with
We did so enjoy your chosen moments out of the term in the school staff room – my goodness, what complicated lives you lived
The characters were so cleverly portrayed, but in a subtle way
Poor St John – much, much food for thought
The set was just right, and it was appreciated that the position of the clutter on top of the staff room cupboard was changed from time to time
Congratulations to all involved on another wonderful production. The best £15 I have spent in ages
We look forward to Stevie!