Edward Alderton Theatre

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Black Comedy
by Peter Schaffer

Directed by Patricia Robertson


One Season's King
by George McEwan Green

Directed by Paul Jennings

21-27 August 1976 (6 performances)

An evening of two short plays. Black Comedy is Peter Schaffer's riotous farce set during a total blackout (for the actors, rather than the audience). One Season's King is a humorous look at the clash of the classes. Three men of vastly different social backgrounds compete for the hand of the boss's fair daughter. Who will win her affections and will he be able to keep her? Can anyone be king for more than one season?

Carol Melkett Shirley Andrews
Brindsley Miller Alexander Catto
Colonel Melkett John Symonds
Harold Gorringe George Robinson
Miss Furnival Maggie Jackson
Shuppanzigh Derek Goulding
Clea Sue Williams
George Bamberger Brian Warner

Charles Steve Marshall
Edward David Hampton
Eveline Veronica Robertson
Sam Colin Townsley

Stage Manager John King
Assistant Stage Managers Gill Leggat, Bev Seeley, Margorie Mylett, Barbara Reed
Lighting  Graham Corbould
Sound Bill Ayling


Alderton's dual success

Bexleyheath's new Edward Alderton Theatre is rapidly building a fine reputation. Their production, or rather productions, last week were as good, if not better, than the first two. Producers set themselves a difficult task, presenting two contrasting plays - and the experiment came off.

During the first, Black Comedy by Peter Schaffer, I was on the verge of falling off my seat with laughter. The second, One Season's King by George McEwan Green, also had its amusing moments, but this time I was glued to my seat, anxious not to miss a word. Set in a dreary graveyard with just one black headstone, One Season's King opened with a sinister description of a churchyard - "a place seething with hungry worms and ugly bumps." 

Steve Marshall played Charles, a stammering Oxford boy who lived in a dream world of his own superiority. David Hampton as Edward, a management crawler who bored everyone with his talk of work, work, work portrayed a nervous and shy disposition with tremendous reality. Both tried hard to woo the rich Eveline, played by Veronica Robinson.

Little Sam was lovable. A poor Northerner played by Colin Townsley, he finally married Eveline and struggled to build up his fleet of lorries. He had just reached the peak of his ambition when a heart attack while playing golf ended everything.

Eveline was a "poor" girl who had to put on airs and graces to uphold her father's reputation and only found out what life was really like when married to Sam. She succeeded in making the audience admire and yet feel sorry for her.

Costumes were plain and make-up suitably pale and ghostlike.

In Black Comedy the entertainment depended on ridiculous situations - people entering the flat at the wrong time, lights coming on when it was essential they were off, and vice versa. It opened in the dark and I must admit to wandering, "Is this what they mean by a black comedy?"

Throughout the play actors had to pretend they could not see, and this they did very well, although at times it was a little exaggerated. 

Characters were a truly mixed bunch. Shirley Andrews played Carol Melkett, a rather twee young lady who thought it was the height of fashion to finish almost every word with "pegs". She played her difficult part well but occasionally overdid things. Alexander Catto played a "physical coward" who stole his neighbour's treasured and expensive furniture to impress his prospective father-in-law, Colonel Melkett, played by John Symonds. He too tended to exaggerate everything.

Effeminate neighbour Harold Gorringe, played by George Robinson, was in love with porcelain, while another neighbour, Mrs Furnival (Maggie Jackson), was the shy daughter of a vicar who became extremely loud and amusing when drunk on gin. Both played with gusto.

Derek V Goulding played Shuppanzigh, a foreign employee of the LEB who was taken for multi-millionaire George Bamberger, played by Brian Warner. Both actors managed the German accent excellently.

It was an important evening for everyone - Brindsley had to impress his fiancée's father and persuade the German millionaire to buy his sculptures. But everything possible that could go wrong, did.

Sets for both plays were almost perfect - congratulations to John King, Gill Leggat, Bev Seeley, Margorie Mylett, Barbara Reed, Graham Corbould, Bill Ayling, Fay Rose, Pat Martin and the EAT workshop.


Bexley Times | 2 September 1976

With thanks to David Hampton


Black Comedy cast