The set of Accolade.
A young friend of mine, Harry Peart, is making his stage debut in this play produced by am-dram group Adel Players, so I did hie me to the Yorkshire moors to catch this evening’s performance.
Adel Players are named for Adel, the town in which they are based near Leeds, and they produce plays in the hall belonging to the local War Memorial Association. The company was founded in 1945. For the past few years, Harry’s mother, Shell Peart, has been part of the team, helping put on three shows a year. Shell has acted in various roles, and also helps behind the scenes, especially in set design, props, and publicity.
Accolade was a new play for me, so I was thrilled to watch it unfold through all its twists and turns. It was written by Welsh playwright Emlyn Williams, and first performed in 1950. Accolade tells the story of the Trenting family. The father, Will Trenting (David Lancaster), is about to be knighted, but that of course shines a spotlight on his double life, and a scandal emerges that surprises everyone.
I thought David Lancaster did a splendid job as Trenting, as did Dianne Newby as his wife Rona, and Harry Peart as their son Ian. The whole cast were terrific, but these three – as the family at the heart of it all, with the most to lose – gave particularly genuine and moving performances.
The story was interesting to me as a writer, because Trenting is a published writer – and one of the other characters we meet is desperate to be one, too. The other half of Trenting’s double life has provided him with a great deal of material for his books, and yet it is clear that the life and the choices he has made reflect on himself as a person rather than as a writer. I liked his honesty and sense of responsibility, as well as his love for his family.
Rona was also sympathetic. She has a very clear-eyed view of her husband, and has loved him unconditionally, with no regrets. As a result, they have built a life and a home and a family together – but when it’s all about to come tumbling down around your ears, it’s inevitable that you start to question your own choices.
Meanwhile, Ian is young and innocent, and all the adult characters care for him enough to protect him from what they can. But his perspective can also cut through to the heart of the matter, if they let it.
I can’t say any more about the story or characterisations without revealing too much. It’s an interesting play to watch, and I think the Adel Players and director Beth Duce have done a superb job in bringing it to full life. Unfortunately there’s only one more show in this short run, and it’s been sold out for a while. But if you’re anywhere near Leeds, you might like to keep an eye on the company. I believe their next show is a murder mystery called A Murder of Crows – and our Harry will once again be treading the boards!