By H.E. Bates

 Directed by Jan Stapleton

 Performed on Thursday 30 June - Saturday 02 July 2005, at Pentyrch Village Hall.


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This stage play takes us back to the 1950's, Britain is still recovering from the after effects of the war and everyone is having to make economies. The lovable, irrepressible Larkin family who live in Kent 'somewhere at the end of the rainbow' made their debut in the novel 'The Darling Buds of May' in 1957 and went on to further delight and beguile audiences both on stage and screen. Pop, who makes a fortune from a variety of deals but has never paid income tax lives in rural idyllic bliss with generous hearted Ma and their six children. When a young earnest tax official, Mr Charlton, turns up one hot May afternoon in 1957 to investigate, he is bewitched immediately by eldest daughter Mariette and it isn't long before he succumbs to the boisterous Larkin family charm and largesse.

NODA Review of 'The Darling Buds of May'

Audiences attending a play previously seen on TV or in the cinema expect to relate to that other media. Of course, this is not possible. Hilltop made a valiant attempt to recreate the wonderful TV series with Phil Davies as Pa Larkin and Heather Major as Ma Larkin. Phil had worked hard in his attempt to emulate David Jason with the mannerisms and dialect. Unfortunately, I had difficulty in hearing some of the words which is unusual with Phil and I think it was due to the dialect. A stunning performance nevertheless. Helen Page had the unenviable task of becoming Zeta Jones in the part of Mariette who sets her sights on "Charlie" played by Richard Jones. Helen was quite convincing and Richard did well as the timid taxman. There were some good cameo roles by John Major as the Brigadier, Ifor Morris as Sir George and Steve Williams as the tax inspector. The stage had been cleverly divided to provide three sets in one with a small extension giving an extra dimension. Congratulations to Hilltop for this play and giving Connie and myself an enjoyable evening.

Reviewed by Derek Grattidge


Ma Larkin (Flo Parker)          Heather Major

Pop (Sidney) Larkin              Phil Davies

Mariette Larkin                       Helen Page

Mr Charlton                             Richard Jones

Montgomery Larkin              Nathan Brown

Zinnia Larkin                          Abby Dawson

Petunia Larkin                       Jenna Claridge

Primrose Larkin                    Charlotte Hayward

Victoria Larkin                       Bethany Petersen

The Brigadier                         John Major

Inspector Gorridge               Steve Williams

Miss Edith Pilchester           Karen Claridge

Sir George Bluff Gore          Ifor Morris

Lady Bluff Gore                     Brenda Slaughter

Angela Snow                         Sue O'Halloran


Production Team


Producer/Director                    Jan Stapleton

Assistant Director                    Rhys Stapleton

Production Assistant              Raynor Phinnemore

Stage Manager                          Wayne Brewer

Assistant S. Manager              Nathan Brown

Properties                                  Raynor Phinnemor

Set Design & Construction   Wayne Brewer, Raynor Phinnemor, Josh Krip, Nathan Brown, Owain Davies

Lighting                                      Sarah Thomas

Sound                                         Josh Krip

Continuity                                  Anne Morris

Rehearsal Assistant                Sara Pickard

Business Manager                  Bob Petersen

House Manager                       Bob Petersen

Front of House                        Members / Friends of Hilltop

Box Office                                Heather Major