Spring and Port Wine

Spring and Port Wine is a domestic drama, set in the late 1960s, which centres on the attempts of Rafe Crompton (Allan Jones) to hold his family together by being a strict disciplinarian. He wants to retain old-fashioned values while his children, noticing that outside the world is changing rapidly, are intent on rebellion.

Rafe is a domineering, Bible-quoting tyrant who must have the truth whatever the consequences familiar to older members of the audience must have seen glimpses of their own father or grandfather; Jo Longstaff is delightful as his wife Daisy who uses all the wiles at her disposal to try to keep the family together, including fiddling the weekly household accounts when anyone is desperate for money.

Although written nearly 60 years ago, Spring and Port Wine still has resonance today. One of Rafe’s sons Harold (Alistair Burn) points out there won’t be another depression because there are “economic plans to make it impossible”.
The first half slowly builds as the relationships between the six family members, a fiancé and neighbour, Betsy Jane (Michelle Hope) are fully explored and tee up what’s to come after the interval.
Then the action really hots up as one by one Rafe’s children plot against him and decide to take their revenge on his authoritarian ways.
Melissa Rawlings, in her first acting role for the Club, gives a stirring performance as Hilda. She’s belligerent yet on the verge of a tantrum as she’s determined to walk out of the home on a point of principle. Others soon resolve to follow suit.
Even elder daughter Florence (Emma Simpson) and her defiant fiancé Arthur (Glyn Casswell – another debutant) turn against Rafe because of his obstinacy.
The tension builds superbly as Rafe confronts youngest son Wilfred (Aiden West) and there’s silence in the auditorium as Daisy confesses to Rafe her inadequacies in the home while he reveals a childhood secret which led to his thriftiness. It’s a tender moment which achieves maximum pathos.
Spring and Port Wine is well acted, on an interesting set with good direction direction by Ronnie Lowery.