Good Companions - performed April 1982

By J. B. Priestley

Director - Dennis Murfitt
Musical Director - Patience Ling


(in order of appearance)

Joe Brundit Herbert Yeates
Mrs Brundit Viv Wheatley
Susie Dean Janet Green
Jerry Jerningham Dennis Murfitt
Elsie Longstaff Amanda Rowe
Jimmy Nunn Nigel Rowe
Morton Mitchum Adrian Bolton
Inigo Jollifant Ed King
Elizabeth Trant Valerie Taylor
Jess Oakroyd Ron Colbourne
Sam Oglethorpe Simon Patten
Miss Thong Brenda Chapman
Mr Billingham Colin De'Ath
Truby France Brown
Mr Tarvin Geoffrey Austin
Mrs Tarvin Janet Cousins
Ridvers William Chatman
Harriet Felton Pamela Talbot-Ashby
Monte Mortimer Peter Talbot-Ashby
Leonard Neil Herbert
Milbrau Ian Tucker
Pitsner David Warner
Hilda Gill Baxter
Miss Callender Joan Yeates
Dinky Doos Marion Boyce
Liz West
Lisa Scattergood
All other characters are doubled by various members of the cast.

Production Team

Peter Westbrook, Jenny Rollings, Bill Kempster, Judy Hussey, Miranda Humphreys, Gillian Connell, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Kevin Brown, Derek Cobbold, June wendon, Val Taylor, Anne and Ian Tucker, Jack Hacon, Geoffrey Taylor, Janet Green, Greg Garrad

The Play

Based on the stage play and novel by J B Priestley. A group of people from widely-divergent backgrounds find themselves 'on the road', for various reasons, where they meet up with a down-at-heel concert party. The two groups join forces to become 'The Good Companions'.


After a slow start, the Manifest Theatre Group's latest production - J. B. Priestley's "The Good Companions" - picks up as it goes along to provide another enjoyable evening's entertainment. But the play, the group's tenth, lacks the sparkle of previous productions, which is probably due more to the story than to any fault on the part of the Manningtree-based players, or producer-director Dennis Murfitt.
Set in the early 1930's, the musical tells of a travelling group of pierrots and three people who join them, two after losing their jobs and the third, seeking a new way of life. At first they are despondent, but gradually their luck changes until they finally achieve success. And, as their fate unfolds so the tempo of the play livens. Lasting almost 2½ hours and with a large cast and 23 scenes in the two acts, the play obviously presents quite a few problems, but once again the group copes splendidly in the limited space, with costumes, scenery and lighting all being of the high standard we have come to expect from these talented performers.

The star is undoubtedly Ron Colbourne as Jess Oakroad. At first his North Country accent irritates, but eventually this and the humour he injects into the part endear him to the audience. Janet Green is delightful as the rather petulant Susie Dean, and there are good performances also from Nigel Rowe, Valerie Taylor and Adrian Bolton.
Lesley Pallett

BASED on J. B. Priestley’s novel with lyrics by the inventive Johnny Mercer complementing Andre Previn’s glancing frothy music, the “Manningtree musical” relates the tale of trio of strangers from the most dissimilar of backgrounds who join up with a travelling group of pierrots down on their luck.
Dennis Murfitt’s cleverly staged presentation fleshes out the basically flimsy theme with a discerning eye for the theatrical impact of movement, grouping and simple but effective choreography amid a positive welter of colourful period costume and only the unfortunate necessity to clear and re-people the stage for each new episodic setting takes away in any appreciable measure from the accumulative impetus and drive of a gay, happy and soundly-based production.

Janet Green’s delicious singing voice and vivid personality deals very tellingly with Susie Dean, the young star of the Dinky Doos and the director himself takes on the smooth aplomb of the company’s song-and-dance man, Jerry Jerningham with his customary deftness while among the rank-and-file of the veteran performers who make up the troupe Vivienne Wheatley is outstanding for her vivacity, vitality and pure acting talent.
Ed King is everything the naïve young composer Inigo Jollifant should be, handsome, diffident and blessed with that indefinable thing called presence and his singing voice somehow comes through the tendency to strangulation he puts upon it so something of a triumph in the duet Suze. Adrian Bolton has a very amusing dash at the “seen-it-all-before, been everywhere” Morton Mitchum and Valerie Taylor gets real pathos into her Miss Trant with Ron Colbourne creating the non-nonsense pawkiness of the North Country Jess Oakroyd splendidly and bringing the house down with his birthday twinkling legs.
Patience Ling at the piano and Greg Garrard on percussion blend tunefully and sympathetically into the vocal resources of particular singers and lighting and make-up also confirm the attention to detail that has gone into this thoroughly entertaining show – the more surpassing then to find plastic rearing its ugly and out-of-period head in terms of things like beach balls, thermos flasks and deck chair coverings.
Jimmy James

Photo Shoot

Back row - ??, Dennis, ??, ??, Adrian
Mid row - Nigel, ??, Janet, ??, ??
Front row - ??, Amanda