Between The Lines

Wednesday 21st June 2017 at 7pm in The Market Theatre.

Between The Lines has been written especially for LADS by Rachel Lambert, who wrote The Visit, which was performed by LADS members at The Master’s House to great acclaim last year.

This is an opportunity to perform in the world première of a very creative and innovative play written to commemorate the people of Ledbury and the challenges they faced during World War 1.
Performances will be in The Master’s House, from 12th – 14th and 19th – 21st October 2017.

CAST: (ages are only a rough guide – please don’t be put off!)

Arthur Bannister – 50+
Master of the Master’s House.  Much loved and respected, genuinely loves his responsibilities in Ledbury.
Ill health (due to only having one lung) occasionally gets in the way of his work but he battles on.
He loves his wife but is aware of her snobbery and tries to counter it with kindness.  The couple have no children.

Alice Bannister – 50+
Arthur’s wife.  Alice loves her house by the Cathedral in Hereford and comes to Ledbury only out of duty.
She brings her own cook with her but the house keeper is here all year round and so tensions often arise.
Alice has a nephew in France who she adores and assumes is safe as he’s an officer with ‘connections’.

Dr. Trotter – 30-50 yrs old
A friend of Arthur’s and a good doctor.
Not called up for service due to the need for him to be kept in Ledbury to treat the local community.  His son is in France.

Mary Ann Mann – 30-40 yrs old
The housekeeper.  Mary Ann runs the house and ensures that everything is as it should be when the Banisters’ visit.
She is proud and fierce and her husband was killed in action earlier in the year.
She took the morning off for the funeral and was back at work by the afternoon.

Rachel Edwards – 40+
The cook.  Mrs Edwards prefers her kitchen in Hereford and never knows where anything is when they first arrive.
She is convinced Mary Ann hides things to catch her out.
They have a tolerable relationship; smiling on the surface in each other’s company turning to stony faces when they part.

Emma Starling – 40+
A farmer’s widow.  Emma has one son whom she dotes on, Gilbert.
She didn’t lose her husband in the war; he was killed using faulty farm machinery.
She has to move from Ledbury very soon having successfully applied for a job at the new Munitions factory in Rotherwas, Hereford.

Rebecca Chadd – 14-16 yrs old
Young girl, Frank’s sister.  Rebecca doesn’t speak much, preferring instead to listen but she is clever and takes everything in.
She is hounded by Beryl to help her at the fund raiser, but she is shy and we don’t see her perform until the very end.

Beryl Drinkwater – 16-18 yrs old
Young woman, referred to in the play as having been a part of the ‘shenanigans’ during the teachers strike two years earlier.  She pours longingly over any magazines she can get hold off, desperate to have beautiful clothes that befit her (self-imposed) status.
She is confident and looking forward the fund raiser event as ‘nothing ever happens here’.

Gilbert Starling – nearly 18 years old
A young man waiting to enlist, son of Emma.
Gilbert wanted to leave with his friend Frank when Frank enlisted but to do this Gilbert had to have special consent from his mother and Emma wouldn’t give it.  He is still furious about it.

Private Frank Walter Chadd – 19 yrs old (only seen on film during the performances).  Gilbert’s friend who is already fighting in France.


It is Autumn 1916.  Arthur Bannister is the resident Master in Ledbury’s Master’s House.  He doesn’t live there full time, residing instead in Hereford at Cathedral Close, but he and his wife Alice and their cook Rachel Edwards come and stay in Ledbury for a few months of the year.  The Master’s House has a permanent house keeper on site called Mary Ann Mann (Mrs Mann to everyone).  Mary Ann and Rachel tolerate each other.  Arthur is a much-loved and respected Master, and even though his health is poor having only one lung, he works hard and preaches to full houses.

The Banisters have no children – Alice has a nephew who she speaks about proudly fighting ‘over seas’ – and she is convinced he must be safe as they have ‘connections’.  The Banisters’ take the young Gilbert (Bert) under their wings, his own father having passed away.

Bert’s mother, Emma Starling is due to start work at the newly opened Rotherwas munitions factory in Hereford and is planning to move her family to digs nearer the factory but Bert doesn’t want to move from Ledbury as he has eyes for Beryl.  He also wants to impress everyone by following his friend Frank into service as soon as he turns 18 which is just a few weeks away – Bert is terribly excited about it.

Rebecca Chadd is a young girl whom the Master occasionally tutors.  Her mother works as a nurse at Upper Hall and so Rebecca is often left on her own.  Rebecca reads voraciously.  Alice Bannister cares for her very much.

The Banisters decide to hold a fund raiser, a regular occurrence during this time, but one that had started to feel wearisome to the public, asked time and again to give to the cause.  The couple, however, keep their spirits up and enlist the help of their friend Dr Trotter, their staff and locals to help prepare the house; bunting, hoopla, splat the rat, cakes, all built, painted, baked and decorated.  They need to make an extra push as the Ledbury donkey, so successful at raising funds for the Red Cross, has recently died.

Beryl Drinkwater is a confident, wealthy young woman who is involved in the fund raiser because ‘nothing ever happens in Ledbury’.  She is rehearsing constantly and thinks everyone should listen/watch her less-than-average skills.  Most of them listen/watch kindly.  Bert thinks she’s an angel.

There is tension between the more affluent members of the community, happy to give their time and efforts to raise funds for the cause whilst others give their sons.

At the beginning of the play, we are shown footage of Private Frank Chadd, sitting in a trench, writing a letter home.  He is careful with his wording, not wanting to worry or frighten the reader, crossing words out at times.  In each of the opening scenes in the Masters’ House, of which there will be three all acted simultaneously, someone is reading a letter.  It isn’t referenced during the scene itself, simply put carefully away.  At one point during the play, one of the letters is exposed to be a standard letter, written by the War Office to allay fears at home.  A gap is left for the soldier’s name and the letter refers generally to morale being high, food terrible and missing home.

At the end of the play, in the main hall, we see all the characters coming together ready for their event to start.  The games are ready, an accordion is being played, the tombola is spinning and the tea and cake stall is aching with stock.

Everyone is dressed in gaudy outfits; stripy jackets, clown noses, silly hats, ready to bring cheer to the community.  A telegram arrives.  Each night the telegram is taken to someone different.  In the crush of sadness that follows, Rebecca stands, walks to the centre of the main hall and sings.  It’s the first time we hear her and it’s beautiful.  The film plays again; it is Frank writing his last letter that speaks directly to his family, of a push planned for the morning.  We see him put the letter in an envelope, seal it and put it in his breast pocket and he readies himself………

For further details please email Sally Watson or phone: 01531-631225 / mobile: 07793-315954