Thursday, 27 February 2014

Plays What I Have Saw

A couple of memories from the box of theatre ephemera from the 1980s. I very rarely go to serious theatre plays. I'm not really sure why. I love comedies and have a real nostalgic love for farce of the caught-with-trousers-down Brian Rix sort. And I can sit through musical shows any time as long as there's a proper band playing live and not a recorded backing track. But plays that tell a serious story, whether designed to provoke thought, horror or whatever - you don't normally find me at them.

But for whatever reason, we decided to go to this one in late October 1983 at the Grand Theatre. Starring the lovely Kate O'Mara who had a lot of success on TV in programmes such as Triangle and who did the odd Hammer Horror and Norman Eshley who played the father of the precocious son who lived next door to George and Mildred, the spin-off programme from Man About The House.

This was a horror story - no great special effects, just some really well co-ordinated reactions from the cast who were gathered for a Christmas meal only to be beset by lots of ghostly goings on. It was really well done and with just a simple stage set, no resorting to shock tactics or plunges into darkness, it set up an atmosphere of suspense as Kate's character was slowly taken over by a malevolent spirit that ended with dire consequences for the four would-be diners.

I met Kate a couple of times years afterwards, through my friendship with actress Ingrid Pitt. The first time was in 2003 at a Memorabilia show in Birmingham, where Tony, Ingrid's husband asked if I'd take some photos of the two together. Kate was the school governess, one of Ingrid's victims in the Hammer film The Vampire Lovers.

The other flyer for this time dates from April 1985 and was a farce starring Don MacLean, a familiar face from the childrens' TV show Crackerjack (pause for readers to shout out "Crackerjack!" - if you don't understand that joke, you're far too young...) and a certain glamourous lady called Mandy Rice-Davies. Some twenty four years earlier she had been involved in (in her words) "a spot of bother" with Christine Keeler and Secretary of State for War, John Profumo.

By 1985 she was a very glamourous 40-year-old, definitely adding sparkle and allure to a tale of misunderstandings and a double-booked hotel room.

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