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Major Barbara

In November 1975 Banbury Cross Players present Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw at College Theatre, Banbury.

Major Barbara Programme Front
Major Barbara Programme Page 3
Major Barbara Programme Page 2
Major Barbara Programme Back


Lady Britomart — Vera Massey
Stephen Undershaft — Alun Joseph
Morrison — Grace Gemmell
Barbara Undershaft — Margaret Mallace
Sarah Undershaft — Jennifer Soddy
Charles Lomax — Tony Neale
Adolphus Cusins — Malcolm Punchard
Andrew Undershaft — Roy Dant
Rummy Mitchens — Maureen Padfield
Snobby Price — Richard Westcott
Jenny Hill — Liz Scamens
Peter Shirley — Gerard Sullivan
Bill Walker — Mike Sheldon
Mrs. Baines — Phyl Wherry
Bilton — Jurgen Fricke
Directed by Arthur S Massey

The following were printed in the programme

About The Cast

  • Vera Massey (Lady Britomart) is an actress, novelist, playwright and poet. Before moving to Banbury two years ago, she acted with a repertory company in Birmingham and with the Highbury Little Theatre, Sutton Coldfield and the Tavistock Repertory Company, Islington. Her recent work for the Banbury Cross Players includes Lady Hurf in Thieves Carnival in 1974 and her own play Triptych.
  • Alun Joseph (Stephen Undershaft) is a newcomer to Banbury Cross Players, having moved to the town in August. He previously worked in the Gloucestershire Youth Theatre, where his most recent performance was as David in Children’s Crusade. The play had its provincial premiere in the Cambridge Theatre in Gloucester in June, and was later produced at the Edinburgh Festival.
  • Margaret Mallace (Barbara Undershaft), a drama teacher at Drayton School, has been with Banbury Cross Players for five years. She has played a variety of different parts, including Doctor von Zands in The Physicists and the Fairy Queen in Cinderella, and was the director of Pinocchio, a most successful Christmas play.
  • Tony Neale (Charles Lomax) has been acting and producing plays for over 20 years. He once worked for the Salisbury Studio Theatre in Salisbury Wilts, and the Garrick Theatre in Stockport, Cheshire. He produced Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, as well as playing the part of Phil Hogan in Eugene O’Neill’s Moon for the Misbegotten. Tony is no newcomer to the works of Shaw —three years ago he played Marchbanks in Candida.
  • Malcolm Punchard (Adolphus Cusins) who was once a professional actor working for the Colchester Repertory Company, has played a number of leading parts for Banbury Cross Players. A member of the Society for the last three years, Malcolm’s two most memorable performances were as Nigel in Semi-Detached and Prince Richard in Lion in Winter.
  • Roy Dant (Andrew Undershaft) is an experienced member of Banbury Cross Players, having been a member of the group for the last five years. Earlier works for Banbury Cross Players include the Players’ 25th anniversary production of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard and work in a number of pantomimes, including Ride a Cock Horse.
  • Mike Sheldon (Bill Walker), a relative newcomer to the society, has appeared in Triptych and A Resounding Tinkle both Theatre Workshop productions. This is his first appearance on the College Theatre stage.

Press Release

Major Barbara makes big impression

Major Barbara Press 1

If Banbury Cross Players intend presenting mammoth productions next year similar to Shaw’s Major Barbara then they really must persuade the powers-that-be to get some comfortable seating put in the College Theatre.

A licensed bar too, would be much appreciated. It is true that a large part of last week’s play was set in Salvation Army premises, but to have only coffee available in the interval was, perhaps carrying realism too far!

It is 25 years this month since Bernard Shaw, one of the great literary figures of the century, died, so it was good thinking on the part of producer Arthur Massey to stage one of his plays for the Cross Players’ autumn presentation.

Major Barbara has something of an Upstairs, Downstairs theme. The “downstairs” here, however, does not mean the servants of the period, but the destitute, the poverty-stricken, who were part of the underprivileged at that time.

This was not really my kind of play although I must admit to enjoying at large part of the evening. The acting was first-class and something no amateur drama enthusiast should have missed.

In a production bursting with fine performances, Margaret Mallace’s was quite an achievement. She took the role of the Salvation Army major, Barbara Undershaft, and on this showing must now be reckoned to be one of the society’s leading players.

The play (on the first night) got off to a shaky start and the prompt’s assistance was needed fairly early on. But it was not long before cast and play came resoundingly together, and by the interval the timing and pace were spot-on.

An experienced BCP member, Roy Dant was back in action after a fairly lengthy spell away from the stage, but showed that he has lost none of his acting skills. He turned in a superb portrayal as the millionaire armaments’ manufacturer.

Vera Massey was excellent as Lady Britomart, and Malcolm Punchard put in some good work as Adolphus Cusins. Most of the leading players did well, but Tony Neale as Charles Lomax was especially good.

The first half of the evening was almost stolen by Mike Sheldon playing’ the rough, tough Bill Walker, and he deservedly received a special round of applause from the audience.

The presentation, in fact, contained a large number of cameo performances of note including Maureen Padfield as Rummy Mitchens, Richard West-cott as Snobby Price and Liz Scamens and. Phyl1 Wherry as Salvation Army ladies.

A practically faultless production, it attracted the largest first night audience for ages. I only hope aching backsides – the curtain went up at 7.30 and the ‘production ended around 10.50 pm – didn’t put them off future College Theatre shows.


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