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in Northampton since 1932

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The Linden Tree
by J. B. Priestley

Part of the programme for The Linden Tree

Cast & Crew

Professor Linden Henry Gascoyne
Isabel Linden
Margaret Roberts
Rex Linden
Eric Roberts
Dr Jean Linden
Margot Hutchinson
Marion De St Vaury
Jean McNamara
Patsy Scholes
Alfred Lockhart
John Parkin
Edith Westmore
Mary Tapscott
Bernard Fawcett
Glanville Jones
Mrs Cotton
Phyllis Perkins

Producer Joan M Fisher
Barbara Bowstead
Stage Carpenter
James Cumberpatch
Stage Lighting
Stanley Monk
Stage Manager
Margaret Bennett
Assistant Stage Managers
Doreen Chapman,
Geoffrey Brightman
Costume Supervision
Florence C Brawn
Business Managers
Alfred Judkins, Horace Smith

Part of the programme or The Linden Tree

Production No. 40

More images for The Linden Tree


Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 24 November 1949

To John Boynton Priestley, playwright, philosopher and, some would say, prophet, many of us are doubly indebted this week. First for a warmly intelligent radio talk that helped the B.B.C. out of recent distressing doldrums: secondly for the opportunity of hearing "The Linden Tree," a Northampton Drama Club production, which opened its three nights’ run at the Exeter Hall yesterday in a production generally up to the high standard now expected from the best of amateur drama in the town.

Mr Priestley, in a phrase borrowed from a well-known advertisement, entertains as he preaches as he creates. The contemporary scene has rarely been drawn so accurately, nor our difficulties so clearly outlined to which may come the retort: “Just what we expect, Priestley can‘t stop preaching." Perhaps not. Personally, I hope he will keep on for almost all his teaching is illuminated by that slowing quality of warm emotion which is the theatre’s particular and peculiar magic, “If I wanted to make people feel deeply, he has said, "I should use the drama”. He has and to what good effect “The Linden Tree" points clearly. This is a play and production to remember and with it, at once. I couple here the name or Henry Gascoyne for his Professor Linden.

The professor, with respect to everyone and everything else concerned, is the play. Mr Gascoyne gives him life. Wise, courageous, warm. From his entrance it is obvious he is just right and every gesture, every phrase confirms that. He may well rank this among his best. In drab Burmanley Professor Lindon finds himself at 65 - in the eyes of family and friends and college colleagues - too old for further Work. All the signs point to it. Even a small Gallup poll of two students confirms it. But the professor's creed is Chesterton’s - “It is a sin to call the green leaf grey." Faced by the combinatlon of a wife who wants colour after drabness, a son who is a mild type of de-luxe spiv, two daughters, Marion, wife of a Frenchman and converted to the peace of mind of Authoritarian Rome and Dr. Jean Linden, nervy Communist out of sympathy with herself and those for whom she labours, the professor decides that to give up ls a crime against humanity.

Production by Joan Fisher is to be commended. Undaunted by all the known handicaps of this stage she handles her characters adroitly and smoothly.

The sets, designed by Barbara Bowstead, are to suggest the drab study of a gloomy house in a depressing city. The design and execution are highly creditable, but is not the heavy gloom overdone? Would Isobel Linden, yearning for colour and life, intelligent wife of a sensitive man, consent to such a dull room and abide for one hour that shocking misfit of an appalling table? No! And no professor, of history and reader with unsated appetite, could surely live without a book or two for the shelves?

Playing was generally good. Margaret Roberts as Isobel, plotting with reluctant determination, grew with the play. I imagine she began, naturally enough, with nerves and there was a tendency to lack repose and a reluctance to relax that was not entirely owing to the part. Her final scene is done well and with an economy that should be generally more in evidence tonight. Jean McNamara and Margot Hutchinson with Eric Roberts as three of the Linden branches were each persuasively in character. They made the family, its joys and turmoils, real enough. Mr. Roberts, one hoped, would see the light. He was far too pleasant a young man not one day to see the virtues of toiling and spinning.

I was most impressed with Patsy Scholles's Dinah, youngest of the Linden's. It was an attractive study indeed. Phyllis Perkins as Mrs. Cotton - the woman about the house to end all women about the house - gave us that sure touch we expect if with an accent in which "niceness" threatened to break through! John Parkin was more than adequately solid and sympathetic and Mary Tapscott and Glanville Jones gave us glimpses of student life. Mr Jones, however, glowered too much and tore passion to tatters rather incoherently at one point with an unfortunate lack of that essential, the smoothness of temperance.

Now, I hope after so happy an evening the Club - or the Players - may be tempted to do one of my favourite Priestley sermons. "Time and the Conways."

Last night's audience included the Mayor and Mayoress of Northampton (Councillor Len Smith and Mrs Phyllis Green).


23 - 25 November, 1949 at 7.30pm
The Exeter Hall, Northampton

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