Henfield Theatre Company The StepmotherThursday 19th March - 19:45 - 22:00The Henfield Hall, Coopers Way, Henfield,BN5 9DBIt isn’t often that we have the chance to see a play of exceptional quality that that has been hidden away for decades and then rediscovered.
Enter stage left the next Henfield Theatre Company production, The Stepmother.
In 1912, the young Githa Sowerby caused a sensation with her play Rutherford and Son, partly because it was a brilliant piece of work that went on to have a long run in the West End and on Broadway, and partly because she was a woman! Twelve years later, she wrote The Stepmother. By then she was happily married and had inherited a fortune as well as a house in Kensington.
Her family disapproved of her attachment to the theatre and didn’t like her affiliation to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. They put pressure on her to give it all up, which is what she did – and came bitterly to regret it. The Stepmother received one token performance in 1924 and was then filed away – for eighty years!
In this understated masterpiece, a young woman, Lois, inherits a fortune from her former employer. She is taken into the household of the dead woman’s brother, Eustace, who subsequently marries her as his second wife, housekeeper and governess to his little girls. Ten years later she has become a much-loved stepmother and a successful businesswoman.
Problems arise when the elder girl falls in love with the boy next door and seeks a settlement to enable her to marry him, a common practice in the 1920s. Eustace is shifty and evasive, and the play gradually uncovers the shocking secret that he has been keeping.
The storyline has extraordinary resonances for the 21st century: coercive relationships, independence for working wives, equality of finance – all of which have come under scrutiny more recently.
This production of The Stepmother, which is directed by Rosemary Nice, will be performed at The Henfield Hall from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 March starting at 7.45. Tickets, priced £11 and £9, are available online (www.henfieldtheatrecompany.com) or at the box office, Stevens Estate Agents, Henfield High Street (01273 492141). The production is sponsored by Stevens Estate Agents.