Try­ing to out­law lies

Rossendale Free Press - - Memory Lane -

IN this week’s Mem­ory Lane, we take a look back at an Ed­war­dian mu­si­cal per­formed by Water­side Am­a­teur Oper­atic and Dra­matic So­ci­ety in Novem­ber 1939.

Our reg­u­lar nos­tal­gia con­trib­u­tor Peter Fisher has sent us a se­lec­tion of pic­tures from the three-act show, The Ar­ca­di­ans, staged at the Em­pire Theatre, Bacup.

Pro­ceeds from the show went to Water­side Methodist Church funds and the Bacup Cen­tral Aid Fund

The play is about a group of ‘Ar­ca­di­ans’, who live in Ar­ca­dia - a fic­tional land of peace and seren­ity and who are on a mis­sion to trans­form wicked Lon­don into a sim­ple, true land.

It be­gins with Som­bra and Chelsea, two Ar­ca­dian chil­dren, talk­ing about the out­side world and the ‘sav­ages’ who live in it, in cages of brick and stone, telling dreaded lies.

The Ar­ca­di­ans ask Fa­ther Time to bring a Lon­doner to them, so they can teach him their pure way of life.

Re­luc­tantly agree­ing, he then causes am­a­teur avi­a­tor James Smith, an ag­ing phi­lan­derer with a love of aero­planes, to crash land in Ar­ca­dia.

The Ar­ca­di­ans and James swap sto­ries and he in­tro­duces them to con­cepts from the out­side world, in­clud­ing ug­li­ness, jeal­ousy - and even ly­ing.

The Ar­ca­di­ans put James in the Well of Truth, transforming him into a young man wear­ing the scant cos­tume of Ar­ca­dia.

He is chris­tened ‘Sim­plic­i­tas’ and is told he will re­main young un­til he tells a lie, then sent off with Som­bra and Chelsea to wicked Lon­don, to ban­ish lies for­ever.

The trio be­gin at the Askwood races, but in­stead of im­prov­ing the Lon­don­ers’ way of life, the Ar­ca­di­ans take up some of their wicked ways, in­clud­ing bet­ting on the races.

Sim­plic­i­tas meets his wife, Mrs Smith, who, not recog­nis­ing him as her hus­band, falls in love with the young man. He, in turn, agrees to help her open an Ar­ca­dian restau­rant in Lon­don.

Next a jockey called Jack Mead­ows is thrown by his horse - and the re­place­ment rider, Peter Doody, is in­jured.

Sim­plic­i­tas takes their place, us­ing his Ar­ca­dian gift of speech with an­i­mals, mak­ing the un­ruly horse as gen­tle as a lamb and he rides to vic­tory in the race.

Soon Sim­plic­i­tas and Mrs Smith have launched their Ar­ca­dian restau­rant, which be­comes all the rage in Lon­don, with a menu based on the sim­ple life. How­ever, Sim­plic­i­tas is not shar­ing the Ar­ca­dian way, as was in­tended, and in­stead is hav­ing the time of his life.

When his wife be­comes sus­pi­cious about an all-night ab­sence, Sim­plic­i­tas slips up and tells a lie.

He falls into the or­na­men­tal well in the restau­rant and is trans­formed back into his for­mer self, with his bald head and whiskery fa­cial hair.

Som­bra and Chelsea re­alise that their mis­sion to ban­ish lies in Lon­don has failed and re­turn to Ar­ca­dia.

How­ever they leave two happy cou­ples be­hind - James and his wife - and also the jockey Jack, who has falled for a young Ir­ish woman, Eileen Ca­vanagh.

This week we are show­cas­ing an ar­ray of shots of the show, in­clud­ing an image of the front cover of the sou­venir pro­gramme (Pic­ture 1).

Mean­while Pic­tures 2 and 3 show the Ar­ca­di­ans in their peaceful land.

Pic­ture 4 shows Peter Doody and Mrs Smith, while Pic­ture 5 is a shot of love­birds Eileen Cav­agh and Jack Mead­ows.

Or fi­nal image of the week (Pic­ture 6) shows the whole cast, with Sim­plic­i­tas and Mrs Smith cen­tre.

Did you see The Ar­ca­di­ans in 1939, or were you a mem­ber of the so­ci­ety? If these pic­tures bring back mem­o­ries, please get in touch.

Thanks to all our nos­tal­gia con­trib­u­tors.

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