Stronghold of Happiness

Location: Corn Exchange, Dorchester

harry cockerill and tilda sansom as peter and ella orig

By Tim Saunders

The story of how a fictional women’s refuge was created is told in Stronghold of Happiness, a play by Devina Symes at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester. Appropriately, the production raised funds for West Dorset Women’s Refuge Welfare Committee. While Peter is away fighting for his country in WWII, his girlfriend Ella (Tilda Sansom) is raped by a local aristocrat. When Peter (Harry Cockerill) returns he finds Ella with a baby girl. Distraught, he contemplates suicide but is rescued by an RAF officer who has become his friend. In fact he thinks so highly of him that he leaves his entire estate to him in his will. When Peter understands that Ella is a victim, he asks her to marry him. With his new found wealth he and Ella create a women’s refuge to help those in similar predicaments to Ella. All of this is skilfully told in a play within a play performed by The New Hardy Players; the audience watches a dress rehearsal for a play. Bearing in mind there are no scene changes or props, it is impressive how the audience’s attention is maintained throughout.

Stronghold of Happiness by Devina Symes is published by Tim Saunders Publications.