The Alchemist (1967)
by Ben Jonson
Designed & Directed by Alex Kanarek
From the programme of this show. "The Alchemist" was first acted at the Globe Theatre by the King's Men in 1610, probably with Richard Burbage as Face. Since then it has been continuously popular, especially after the Restoration and throughout the eighteenth century.
The reason for this popularity is not hard to find; the play is considered to be one of the most perfect plots ever planned. The characters are universal, the theme of human folly, particularly that obsessive greed which betrays fools into the hands of expert manipulators.
Its message remains valid today - con-men, like the poor are always with us.
The "Penguin" edition of Johnson's First Folio "Workes", which was published in 1616, was used and only the most obscure references were deleted.
- Subtle, the Alchemist - Charles Commerford
- Face, the Housekeeper & Brothel-Captain - Paul Beech
- Dol Common, their colleague, a Doxy - Julia Stratton
- Dapper, a clerk - Keith Walmsley
- Drugger, a tobacco man - Christopher Rose
- Sir Epicure Mammon, a Knight - Vic Shaw
- Surly, a Gamester - Gerald Knights
- Charity Wholesome, a Puritan Deaconess - Carol Eldred
- Tribulation Wholesome, her sister, also a Puritan - Katharine Stratton
- Kastril, the Angry Boy - Simon Coady
- Dame Pliant - Sheila Compton
- Lovewitt, the Master of the House - Bob Ball
- Neighbours - Lesley Morris, Pamela James, Sheila Rees, Sylvia Meeks, Val Youngman, Brian Alberici, Norman Bradshaw, Jim Harman
- Parson - Nick Robbins
- Street Cryers - Wendy Neal, Mary Prindle, Malvina Spriggs, Charles Turner
- Stage Manager - John Woodrooffe
- A.S.M.s - Jessica Barber, Rick McGuire, Barry Weyman, Joan Spriggs
- Lighting - Ted Neal
- Sound - John Alford
- Costumes - Jean Firminger
- Scenic Artist - Frances Fisher
- Assistant to the director - Lynda Taylor
- F.O.H. Manager - Frank Howcutt
"The Alchemist" - MAGNIFICENT.
The South London Theatre Centre on Monday resented their first production "The Alchemist", by Ben Jonson. The Centre presented considerably more than that entertaining but wordy play; they showed conclusively that they could build a model theatre to perfection, with magnificent acoustic properties, and with a stage that could be viewed with comfort from every seat in the house. The whole theatre premises were built out of the old West Norwood Fire Brigade premises by the members of this local theatre club. A remarkable achievement. They showed, too, that they were masters of stagecraft, stage lighting, scenic effects and costume improvisation. I understand that the early Stuart costumes .... were all adapted or constructed from materials and costumes in stock. ...the cast gave a most professional and entertaining production of the play ....The Bawdy humour and lusty situations, the theme of human folly and self-betrayal of men because of their own greed and venality, makes "The Alchemist" a piece full of piquant incidents, absurdities and gusty laughter. Alan Warwick, Brixton Advertiser. 3/10/67
Reminiscences and Anecdotes
Members are encouraged to write about their experiences of working on or seeing this production. Please leave your name. Anonymous entries may be deleted.
Here is the director of the very first SLTC production, Alex Kanarek. That is me. 46 years ago, sitting at the front of the stage in the cast photo, looking glum. I don't know why, as it was a tremendous honour to be selected to direct that play. I might have been selected partly because, as the chairman of the project committee for much of the time we spent looking for a home, I still remember the heartbreaks and depressions we suffered as it seemed more and more we would never be able to find a new home for the Proscenium Club and its new partner, the Lambeth Players. We chose "The Alchemist" because it is a play I had always wanted to direct, but it also gave good parts to so many members, which was a way of saying "thank you" for all their hard work.