in Film & TV
The principle joy of this production was the wonderful James Hayes in the title role. He has since written an entertaining memoir about his half-century as a working actor called Shouting in the Evenings: 50 Years on the Stage.
Doctor Faustus has some great speeches, but the comic scenes, which were the ones I was mostly involved with, can be hard work. I remember struggling with the material. I assume the audience must have struggled, too.
This was the first of three plays I did at Chester with David Thacker, Chris Honer’s associate director. After a fifteen year gap, we were to encounter each other again at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
A TALE OF TWO TOWN HALLS
a new play by David Pownall
This was a political satire based on the UK’s latest financial crisis, requiring a massive loan granted in 1976 by the International Monetary Fund to James Callaghan’s Labour government.
I remember writer David Pownall having a hard time with those of my colleagues who were on the hard left. They were, not unusually, disdainful of what they considered his small-l liberal political analysis. I was naive about such matters at the time. To me, it was impressive that David had manage to find any drama at all in the subject.
I had a nice role, as a kind of hippy Mr Fixit, for which I wore a greasy wig and a huge sheepskin coat. At least, I think it was sheepskin. The photo below, in which I’m talking to David Boyce, shows my face with a kind of instant tan on it. I don’t know, and can’t guess, why that would have been.
My other memory of the production is the minor scandal which attached to the inclusion of a small section of masonic ritual, culminating in an authentically masonic, surprisingly jaunty song, for which I provided piano accompaniment. Freemasonry had — still has — a reputation for secrecy, so the local lodge was unlikely to have been pleased at what was being shown onstage.
Most of it — the excitement of joining the EU, the twinning of UK towns with European equivalents of similar size and character– belongs to another era. But the petty power struggles of local politics are unlikely to have changed much.