A Midsummer Night's Dream 25th June 1925

As the IOW County Press reported: The large gathering of spectators from all parts of the Island which assembled in the grounds of Brooke House on Thursday to witness the third annual pageant performed by villagers of Brooke, was a fine tribute to the creditable historic reputation which the Brooke players have won, and it can be safely said that their presentation of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream on this occasion considerably enhanced that reputation.  

It was an ambitious venture tackled with true Brooke spirit, and Miss Clarence, the producer and every member of her company are to be heartily congratulated on showing what can be done in interpreting the works of the greatest of all playwrights even when the players have to be drawn from so small a community.  

It should serve as an example and incentive to the larger communities of the Island, for no more pleasurable and profitable entertainment can be imagined.  The large audience thoroughly enjoyed the performances, which were productive of some really effective elocution and acting, and a series of beautiful pictures, staged in delightful sylvan surroundings on a perfect summer evening.  

The sloping meadow to the west of the Lord Lieutenant’s residence (Bush Rew) was again utilised as the stage, with the fir coppice as a splendid background and serving as a convenient dressing room.  The effect of the various entrances was considerably enhanced by the sudden appearance of the performers from the dark recesses of the wood.  

General Seely made a special journey from Town to witness the play and declare the fete open.  He said that little Brooke, which had sent its sons to all parts of the world in peace and in war to play worthy parts, had now gained quite a wide reputation for its pageants.  He paid tribute to the splendid leadership of Miss Clarence, and hoped that as a result of the venture the church, the chapel and the children’s treat funds would benefit substantially.  

The performance, which lasted over two hours, went through without the slightest hitch.  There were very few lapses of memory in spite of the difficult dialogue entrusted to the principals, and both tragedy and comedy were admirably portrayed. The dancing of the fairies and elves in green, orange, violet and scarlet dresses was exceedingly pretty, whilst the final assembly of the whole company, during which Mr L Woodland finely sang Land of Hope and Glory was a brilliant spectacle.  

Miss R Newbery, with her beautiful dark tresses flowing free, made a strikingly handsome Titania and sang tastefully.  Master H Parry did well as Oberon, Mr W Dyer acted with admirable feeling as Theseus, Miss H Newberry was a splendid Hippolyta, Mr H Woodford adequately played the part of Egeus, and Master T Hookey was a spritely Puck, but the chief honours are due to the four lovers, Lysander (Mr W Dollery), Demetrius (Mr J Hookey), Hermia (Miss E Kinge), and Helena (Miss D Hookey).  On them fell the main weight of the dialogue and they all sustained it admirably, showing skilful versatility of expression, and excellent elocution.  Miss Hookey declaimed her parts splendidly, and her persistent wooing of her scornful loved one, Demetrius, was perhaps, the best piece of acting during the evening.  All four combined exceedingly well in interpreting the perplexing changes of passion consequent on the application of the potent love-flower by Puck.  

Special praise must also be bestowed on the graceful leader of the dancers (Miss M Hookey), the chief fairy (Miss M Morris), and on the company of players who appeared before Theseus, viz., Messrs. W Foster (Quince), A E Eccott (Bottom), H Barnes (Flute), M Buckett (Snout), J Morris (Snug), and A Leal (Starveling).  They produced the fun splendidly.  Mr Ecott’s clever make-up in a realistic ass’s head as Bottom and his stentorian voice and infectious leadership as Pyramus, were strong points in their displays. 

At the end of the performance Gen. Seely heartily complimented the company, and led three cheers for them, with an additional cheer for Miss Clarence, who, it should be mentioned, not only superintended the rehearsals, but, with members of her household, made the majority of the charming costumes.  Gen. Seely added that he was sure the company were delighted to notice that neither Titania nor her attendants were bobbed or shingled (laughter).

Before and after the play, visitors found plenty to amuse in the varied side shows of weight-judging and other competitions and in a dainty display of maypole and folk dancing in the afternoon by the scholars of Hulverstone School.