Monday 24th May to Saturday 29th May 1976
Directed by Jill Sawyer
It is not the individual who is guilty but the community. We are forced to pass judgement on the relative guilt of every character, but we aren't just impartial judges - we are ourselves, the accused.
The fictional town of Andorra is not to be confused with the real country Andorra. The story revolves around a young boy, Andri who is brought up as the Jewish adoptive son of the town's Teacher, who claims to have rescued him as a child from the neighbouring, anti-semitic 'Blacks'. However, it is later revealed that Andri is, in fact, the illegitimate child of the Teacher and the Senora (a lady from the Blacks) and more significantly, Andri is not a Jew. Written in 1962, this play deals with the recurring theme of Frisch's work, that of people trapped in their public images. The too-easily drawn parallels with the rise of Nazism can give the play a dated look but the basic idea of a man being forced to accept the view of himself imposed from outside is still unhappily pertinent.
This play was staged under Bench Theatre's original company name of Theatre Union, at their theatre in West Street. It was actually the building in West Street, Havant where most of the Company's early plays were staged, which was called the Bench Theatre (after its prior use as a magistrates' court). The company's name was changed gradually by word of mouth and general usage between the years 1973 - 1977 when reviewers, and then members themselves, gradually stopped referring to Theatre Union and started calling the company of players 'Bench Theatre'. The new Company name of Bench Theatre was adopted in to all the promotional literature after they moved from the old theatre (which had been their home for nearly 7 years) in to the Old Town Hall building in East Street.
|The Teacher||Tony Starr|
|The Mother||Eve Moore|
|The Senora||Robbie Cattermole|
|The Priest||Derek Cusdin|
|The Soldier||Peter Duncan|
|The Innkeeper||David Spackman|
|The Carpenter||Tim Atkinson|
|The Doctor||John Scadding|
|The Journeyman||Steve Farrell|
|The Somebody||Tim Mahoney|
|An Idiot||Richard Cattermole|
|The Jew Detector||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Choristers||Imogen Sawyer |
|Stage Manager||Glenn Simmons|
|Lighting Designer||Peter Holding|
|Lighting Operator||Hazel Rhymes|
|Set Designer||Ed Sawyer|
|Set Construction||Peter Holding |
|House Manager |
'Andorra' is the 22nd major production by Theatre Union, the group based at the Bench. The play belongs to that category loosely termed 'modern classics'. Theatre Union has tackled the work of classical playwrights such as Shakespeare, Shaw, Sheridan and Chekhov and is already planning a production of 'As You Like It ' for 1977. However, quite by accident rather than deliberate policy, and possibly influenced by the physical limitation of the theatre, an emphasis can be seen to have developed towards the work of outstanding modern playwrights. Plays by such distinguished and acclaimed American and English writers such as Miller, Albee, Osborne and Shaffer have featured strongly in our choice of plays. Tonight's production is our first major venture in to the realm of European Theatre, since the inaugural production of ' Six Characters In Search of an Author' by Pirandello way back in 1969. The translation is by Michael Bullock.
If you go to the Havant Bench Theatre this week, you could come away feeling guilty. So says Jill Sawyer, director of 'Andorra' by Max Frisch which is being put on by the Theatre Union until Saturday. The plot centres on Andri, played by Tony White, a drama teacher at Broomfield School, who holds the play together with a very moving performance. Andri is forced to accept a view of himself imposed by the community and is eventually betrayed by his fellow citizens. "It is ordinary people like you and me who condemn and I hope this gives the audience something to go home and think about," said Miss Sawyer. Due to his being brought up to believe he is a Jew, Andri is condemned by the people of Andorra, and when it is disclosed he is not a Jew he is trapped by public image.
The rest of the cast, who represent the community of Andorra, supported Tony White admirably, notably The Doctor (John Scadding) whose rejection and betrayal of Andri is especially convincing, and The Soldier (Peter Duncan) who is frightening and aggressive. The Idiot is played by 14-year old Richard Cattermole who is a pupil of Warblington School. The dramatic effect is heightened in the close confines of the tiny theatre. You feel you could reach out and touch the players, and this helps the audience, whether they like it or not, to become involved in the action. The play poses technical problems, mainly in achieving continuity, die to the numerous short scenes, with a great deal of entrancing and exciting, and more than 100 lightning changes, but these obstacles are overcome due to the efficiency of the production.
The News, 25th May 1976