Tuesday 15th September to Friday 18th September 1987
Directed by David Penrose and Damon Wakelin
Women's place in history (and co-incidentally all with an Italian connection) is explored in a trilogy of one-act plays for two actresses. Showing how women get caught up in historical forces mightier than they are, the title comes from the quotation "Time and tide wait for no man" - and still less for women it seems...
The scene is Pompeii, on a hot day in August. In this comedy, Elspeth and Corinne are on a package holiday. It's Tuesday, so it's Pompeii - their feet ache, it's hot and they're beginning to think that all this history and culture isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. The main problem it seems, is the effect that all of it has on the feet.
The title of this play was taken from a 1982 locally produced guide to the excavated site of Pompeii, by Piemme & Enrika D 'Orta.
A humble prison worker is "arrested" by Italian terrorists. Lonely, frightened and uncomprehending she tells them her story and struggles to understand how someone as poor and ignorant as herself could be guilty of being an "agent of State oppression".
'The Execution of Miss Stefanini' is based on real events that took place in 1985. Even in a prosperous western democracy, innocence and ignorance are no protection against persecution and terrorism.
The story of Lucrezia Borgia. Was she the heartless poisoner of popular myth - or a woman heartlessly used in the power struggles of men? Daughter of Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia Borgia lived 1480-1519 at the height of the Renaissance in Italy. During her lifetime Columbus discovered America, Henry VIII was King of England, and in China the Ming Dynasty was at its height. She never poisoned anybody.
These plays were staged at Portsmouth Drama Centre, Reginald Road, Southsea as a touring production. This was the second time that bench Theatre had staged The Execution of Miss Stefanini the first being a Bench Fringe Theatre production in 1985.
|Germana Stefanini||Jane Hemsley-Brown|
|Lucrezia Borgia||Jude Salmon|
|Stage Manager||Peter Holding|
|Front of House||Sheila Baillie|
'Time and Tide' came together in stages; it began in 1985 with a dry newspaper report giving verbatim extracts from Germana Stefanini's trial at the hands of terrorists. The idea of a thematically linked group of plays providing strong dramatic roles for women followed. Miss Stefanini is the victim of political circumstances quite beyond her understanding or control. Lucrezia Borgia, in another time and at the opposite end of the social scale, is likewise cruelly swept along by forces that master her. 'Pompeii' takes a lighter view; after all, for most of us, history is merely a matter of holiday excursions.
A trilogy of plays featuring women and their place in history opened at the Portsmouth Drama Centre, Reginald Road, Southsea last night. Each, under the collective title 'Time and Tide'. was penned by Havant lecturer Jacquie Penrose and performed by Bench Theatre members Jude Salmon and Jane Hemsley-Brown.
Among the women portrayed was the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Sex, poison, incest and murder are usually associated with the Italian noble woman, but only hints of these crimes were evident. I cannot praise Bench Theatre member Jude Salmon enough. Her performance of the God-fearing Lucrezia was stunning. In what was really a one-woman play, apart from a walk on role by Jane Hemsley-Brown, she was the compelling centre of a sparse stage.
In 'Miss Stefanini', Jane Hemsley-Brown took centre stage. She was equally good in her role as the lonely, frightened spinster who found herself captive of a terrorist group. Of the three it was the best written play, poignant and simple.
The two amateur actresses appeared together in a more light-hearted story of the trials and tribulations of a package tour. Coaches and couriers were the holiday highlights instead of moonlight and mandarins. 'Time and Tide' runs until Friday.
The News, 16th September 1987