Cathouse Header

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Synopsis

In 1949, Helene Hanff, an aspiring writer in New York, types a letter to a London book shop, with a wish-list of rare and hard-to-find book titles. Manager Frank Doel, and his small staff of assistants fulfill most of her order, and in his covering letter, Frank promises to source the remainder. And so, with this modest shipment, the first of many, a special, true-life story unfolds, spanning some twenty years.  Faxes, e-mails, texts, blogs and any form of social media are yet to arrive! The skill and magic of the written and spoken word is right here, to inform and delight.


 

Back to Top

Photo Gallery

 

Back to Top

Cast & Crew

Helene Hanff Margaret Healy
Frank Doel Frank Sartore
Megan Wells Fiona Agyeman
Cecily Farr Gail McGregor
Joan Todd Pat Agyeman
George Martin   Brian Fitches
   
Director   Bette Sartore
Assistant Director and Properties   Maggie Browne
Stage Manager Brian Fitches
Set Construction Brian Fitches, Frank Sartore, Rob McGregor
Lights Geoff Murray
Sound Di Addington
Music Galliano Sommavilla

Back to Top

Review by VDL

Victorian Drama League's “Theatrecraft” Reviewer Ken Barnes, November 8, 2015

“One of life's pleasures for a reviewer is that you see favourite plays performed by different theatre groups, but the downside is that one has to guard against prejudice and approach each performance with an open mind. This is not always easy, especially when the show is performed by the super-friendly Cathouse mob and staged in Kyneton which is one of Victoria's delightful country towns. The story is a familiar one: Helene, a feisty single woman living in New York begins a correspondence with bookshop manager Frank and his staff in London. The business relationship develops into a warm and often touching friendship over two decades during which Britain emerges from the privations of World War 11 and Helen's career finally enables her to afford a trip to London.

Although reconstruction of Kyneton's venerable Bluestone Theatre is a work in progress, the seating, stage and set arrangements for the show were perfectly adequate. Brian Fitches designed the set to feature the bookshop to the right of the stage and Helen's study on a raised platform to the left. Both areas were carefully furnished with period items such as a desk lamp, office clock, easy chair, typewriter and, of course, lashings of books in various stages of decay. Throughout the performance there were many occasions when letters and boxes were sealed, opened, packed and unpacked; in each case this was done with great attention to detail as to ensure realism. My only reservation was that the bookshop secretary's desk was placed in front of Helene's platform at stage left and somewhat remote from the rest of the bookshop. Front stage right might have been a more coherent location.

All six actors were needle-sharp in enunciation and delivery and even back row audiences would not have missed a word. Margaret Healy was perfectly cast as Helene and turned in an outstanding performance from start to finish. Her faintly Jewish, New York accent was right on the money and her whimsical, occasionally acerbic lines were delivered with great flair, always accompanied by mannerisms and gestures which brought out the complex and endearing nature of her character. Frank Sartore played the store manager, Frank Doel, with conviction and like Margaret was on stage for most of the performance. Although his body language and expressions were subtle and convincing, a little more work on that elusive British accent and gentility would have paid off.

The two principals were well supported by Brian Fitches as the ageing and slightly hesitant Mr Martin, Pat Agyeman as the ultra-loyal Joan Todd, and Gail McGregor as the slightly more adventurous Cecily Farr, all members of the bookshop staff. I was particularly impressed with the performance of Fiona Agyeman who played two roles: Franks secretary, Megan and the American tourist, Maxine. As Megan she was able to bring out that self-effacing attitude adopted by some British women, but as Maxine she was the epitome of the self-confident and flamboyant American. A delightful vignette!

It was clear that the Cathouse crew were equally competent behind the scenes. Sound and lighting (Di Addington and Geoff Murray) were well designed, costumes (the director) were appropriate and Brian Fitches was an effective stage manager. The incidental music, composed and presented by Galliano Sommavilla, was a special treat and complemented what had been a most enjoyable performance.”

Back to Top

Midland Express 10 Nov 2015

Midland Express 10 Nov 2015 

Back to Top

 

Website by Brian Fitches ... Last Updated Jan 2017      © Cathouse Players Inc. All rights reserved