Dad's Tale: World Premiere ReviewsThis page contains reviews of the world premiere production of Alan Ayckbourn's Dad's Tale at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, in December 1960. It is not a complete set of reviews as the aim of the page is to offer a flavour of how the play was originally received and to offer a cross-section of opinion. All reviews on this page are the copyright of the respective publication and / or author and should not be reproduced.
Admirably Acted Play By Two Companies
"If you have children take them to see it. If you have no children - well, go and see it anyway. For the odds are ten to one in favour that, adult or child, whatever your taste in drama, you will enjoy Dad's Tale, presented jointly by two companies, the Studio Theatre Company and the British Dance Drama Theatre, in the Library Theatre, Scarborough.
To explain how these two companies can combine their talents without the result being ludicrous, the story must be partly explained. A happy-go-lucky family, consisting of Martin, who acts as story-teller, Dad, on the dole, and Auntie, who looks after them, together with Martin's girl friend, Jenny, find that on Christmas Day, instead of feasting on a turkey dinner, they will be feasting on beef-dripping.
Not that they are the sort of family to despair at this. But each in turn imagines himself or herself in some pleasant situation. Here the dancers come in. Auntie sees herself having a whale of a time going round the shops, Dad doing a burglary, Jenny, skating, and Martin, as the strong-man in a circus. Each of the dreams is danced by members of the Dance Drama Theatre.
It is an enchanting play; written specially for the companies by Roland Allen (Alan Ayckbourn). All the cast are extremely good, and especially so are Stanley Page as Dad, David Jarrett as Martin, and Alan Ayckbourn himself, who plays a medley of parts - clerk, labourer, shady character, grocer, angry neighbour, and a removal man."
(Scarborough Evening News, 20 December 1960)
Different Theatre In The Round
"Theatre In the Round at Scarborough has let its hair down for a fortnight, forsaking its serious dramatic interpretation to indulge in a light-hearted piece of nonsense called Dad's Tale.
Into a rich tapestry of wit and humour, the author, Roland Allen, has woven colourful splashes of an unusual and entertaining form of theatre - the mimic dancing of the British Dance Drama Theatre, which cleverly fills in pictures an empty stage is unable to present.
The highlight of last night's opening performance at the Library Theatre was the inspired clowning of Australian Stanley Page as a Cockney dad who turns into a budgerigar. Alan Ayckbourn, the author by his stage name, had a variety of characters to portray and he did so with his usual finesse. David Jarrett, Rosamund Dickson, Hazel Burt, and Phillip Clifford and the dancers, Tonya Burcka, Jennifer Wright, Frances Harper, Brenda Elder and Robert Horobin, completed a resourceful cast."
(Yorkshire Post, 20 December 1960)
Clever Dancers At Scarborough
"Clever mimic dancers of the British Dance Drama Theatre who visited Scarborough for a short season this summer combine with actors of the Theatre in the Round company in Dad's Tale by Roland Allen, which has just begun a two-week run at Scarborough Library Theatre.
The author, who appears under his real name, Alan Ayckbourn, has written several successful comedies and in this he strikes an entirely new note. With little to spend their Christmas on, after a visit from the bailiff who removes all their furniture, a poverty stricken Cockney family fancy themselves in a variety of situations.
Dad, energetically and light-heartedly played by Stanley Page, an Australian, imagines he has embarked on a life of crime, while Rosamund Dickson, as Auntie, sees around her a world of little people in fanciful costumes.
They receive admirable support from David Jarrett, Hazel Burt and Philip Clifford. while Mr. Ayckbourn himself keeps popping on and off the arena in various parts including a removal man, teddy boy, clerk, labourer and grocer. A whirl of colour is added by the dancers. Tonya Burcka, Jennifer Wright, Frances Harper, Brenda Elder and Robert Horobin, directed by Gerald Bagley. Their skilful mimicry interprets the day dreaming of the central characters with pleasing effect."
(Northern Echo, 21 December 1960)
"An annual problem for most repertory companies is the Christmas Show, when a group of 'straight' actors must provide pantomime or near pantomime. Studio Theatre Ltd., at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, seem to have found an excellent solution in joining forces with the British Dance Drama Theatre, and having an entertainment specially written for them by Roland Allen, an actor in their own company.
Into a comical tale of Christmas on the never-never, are woven interludes of dance in which each actor in turn is caught into his own particular day-dream. Auntie is taken into a whirlpool of Christmas shopping; Jenny goes skating; Martin is the strong man in a circus, and Dad finds that his constitution is too weak for a life of crime. Fun and enchantment are mixed in a kaleidoscope of colour, music and laughter.
The choreography is by Gerard Bagley, Director of the British Dance Drama Theatre, and is executed by Tonya Burcka, Jennifer Wright, Frances Harper, Brenda Elder and Robert Horobin with gaiety, precision and freshness.
Stanley Page proves himself a memorable and endearing comic as Dad, a seedy and happily miserable Cockney, like a moulting sparrow.
Rosamund Dickson, cheerful, gossipy and sentimental as Auntie raises her voice repeatedly, and never without effect. David Jarrett makes a happy and friendly story-teller, as well as giving a bravura performance as a weight-lifter: and Hazel Burt, as his girl-friend, is charming and attractive in a part which allows her to be little else.
Philip Clifford speaks worlds in complete silence as a removal man whose head is as useless as the blown television set he is reclaiming.
A large supporting cast is played by Alan Ayckbourn with the help of a variety of costumes and moustaches and a richly comic invention.
After six years of visits, Studio Theatre Ltd. may claim to have struck root in Scarborough. It is, perhaps a pity that Dad's Tale should be about a stage-Cockney family, rather than a native Yorkshire one, making local and topical jokes, and allusions to such burning topics as whether the Corporation should build a theatre or a swimming bath. Nevertheless, this is a show full of life and brilliance, and it is to be hoped that Scarborough will seize its present opportunity to provide a proper home for a company which has shown itself so ready and able to make good use of one."
The Stage (5 January 1961)
All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.