The first performance of Tea with Mr Hardy has taken place at Max Gate (three more to come!), and we thought you might like to see the description of it taken from “Durnovaria Diaries”:
There is no better way to spend a beautiful summer’s afternoon than to take “Tea with Mr Hardy” in the tranquil gardens of Max Gate. Designed by Thomas Hardy himself in 1888, this house still exudes a certain Victorian charm all of its own, somewhat austere perhaps but nevertheless fascinating in a mysterious kind of way. I arrived to watch the performance, part of the tenth anniversary celebrations of the famed New Hardy Players, eager to see this historic building brought to life by this talented band of thespians. How proud must the great man be to behold such events holding court in a place he gave birth to himself, a place he hoped would very much reflect his position as a writer of note, a home to bring acceptance into polite society, a home to show he was justifiably a part of the more opulent middle classes of the town. And what a delightful hour I spent sitting enjoying the sunshine and soaking up all that unravelled before me.
Tea was served in true Victorian fashion. Cucumber sandwiches, jam sandwiches, cakes and cups of tea taken before the main event was a lovely touch, a fitting introduction to the arrival of Mrs Hardy – Florence, of course – and her eminent guest Sir Frederick Treves, Sergeant-Surgeon to His Majesty and author of Highways and Byways of Dorset.
Hardy himself arrived suitably late and somewhat flustered, before conversation flowed as warmly as the tea itself. And then the moment I had been waiting for, the icing on the cake, the delicious filling in the dainty sandwiches – scenes from the Mayor of Casterbridge courtesy of the New Hardy Players, or in keeping with the times purely the Hardy Players!
No matter how many times you see the courtroom played out before your eyes, the laughter just comes and comes. Sue Worth was born to play the hapless but strong-willed vagrant woman from the streets, and her comical timing with police officer Brian Caddy would befit any stage in any theatre in the land – or so I think. And this brilliantly offset the more serious matter of John Trenchard selling his wife to the highest bidder whilst under the influence of the furmity tent! Priceless acting from stalwarts such as Chris Pullen and Alistair Chisholm ….. and even Frederick Treves himself partook of the festivities, standing in and very ably playing a magistrate.
What a way to spend a lazy afternoon, assembled under a marquee or dotted across the lawn on sun-drenched chairs and blankets. Touches of the genius that is Tim Laycock echoed throughout the performance, bestowing his own personal interpretation of the renowned Mr. Treves. I loved everything about this, from the setting to the very pleasant company, and there’s more to come, oh much, much more, so take yourselves off to Max Gate and see what all the fuss is about.
There are still three more opportunities to take tea with Mr Hardy and some other guests – see the details on our Tea with Mr Hardy page.
You can’t say you didn’t know, so what are you waiting for ……..