St Peter’s Hill Players earned critic’s vote with talent for comedy

St Peter's Players 1951
St Peter's Players 1951
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Sheer acting ability was apparently the reason for the success of this play performed in Grantham in 1951 by the St Peter’s Hill Amateur Dramatic Society.

The eight actors involved in ‘The Chiltern Hundreds’ were praised for their skill and characterisation in a riotous comedy which was seen by an amazing 700 people.

The Journal listed the key players as Jim Rennie, Susan Brown, Blake Edwards, Mary Slater, Betty Burford, Muriel Rennie, Michael Bunday and Ron Cavell.

Sixty-five years later, the successors to these able thespians are still performing under the name the St Peters Hill Players and are preparing for their latest show, also a comedy.

The group’s current treasurer, Tony Hine, unearthed the old picture in the group’s archive, although he says he is not familiar with the play.

He said: “I don’t know anything about the play, although I assume it had a political theme. Usually there is an old script with the cuttings we have from bygone productions, but not on this occasion. Perhaps it’s a play that has fallen out of favour with drama groups over the years.”

A quick search reveals the play was almost certainly the political comedy of that name written in 1947 by William Douglas Home, whose brother Alec – later Prime Minister – failed to be re-elected in the first post-war General Election.

The play was a big hit and inspired a film, but it might be rather tame for today’s tastes. Correspondingly, The St Peters Hill Players’ latest show would probably shock Grantham audiences from the early 1950s.

Gameplan, by Alan Ayckbourn, tells the story of Lynette, 42, and her daughter Sorrel, 16, who are struggling to make ends meet after a change in circumstancs.

Fearful she will lose all she has, Sorrel concocts an extreme plan to raise some quick cash, aided by her naive pal Kelly.

The show will be performed from Thursday, November 10 to Saturday, November 12 at 7.30pm at the Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham.