"Happy Family" by Giles Cooper - May 1995


Produced & Directed by Richard Miller

The Cast (in order of appearance)

Deborah Solstice

Sarah Taylor

Mark, her brother

David Darby

Susan, her sister

Pam Thompson

Gregory Butler

Stan Harbidge


The action of the play takes place in Debororah's cottage in Huntingdonshire on a Friday afternoon and evening in the spring of 1961.

There is one interval of 15 minutes between the acts.

Giles Cooper died in 1966 when he was 48. He was a compulsive writer from an early age and he crammed an enormous amount of plays for radio, TV and the theatre into his writing life; (he adapted the 'Maigret' stories for the 1960's television series.) A Solstice is an "apparent standing still of the sun between two equinoxes". The Solstice family of Giles Cooper's ironically titled 'Happy Family' is not a fanciful invention. We all know people who are apparently standing still in their attitudes; who have failed to grow up. All 4 of the characters arguably have arrested development. Certainly they want to play only to their own set of rules. There are terrible dangers of course, in refusing to come to terms with the present and with one's own self. At it s most pessimistic 'Happy Family' hints that we are all more or less unequal to those realities. But closer to the play's comic overtness, Cooper observes through the Solstices, the sort of fossilised Englishness Family with it's ludicrousness, desirability and danger all at the same time.
It is black gruesome and very precise.

The Production Team

Stage Manager

Tina Warrington


& Val Culm


Val Rushworth


Judy Pratt


Annette Ayres

Lighting & Sound

Clive Holland


Martin Day

Set Design

Val Culm

Set Construction

Christine Jackson


& Group Members 

Front of House

Kathleen Ready