Since moving to Sussex in 2011 I have rewritten The Montrose Budgerigar,
written SEE YOU IN HEAVEN - an end-of-pier show featuring Twinkle producer Clarkson Rose and his friendship with
the alleged mass-murderer Dr John Bodkin Adams - and we now have available a first draft of
A MERRY MEETING
A few days prior to his death William Shakespeare is said to have enjoyed ‘a merry meeting’ with
Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton at the Bell Inn at Welford. Indeed, he may have died
of a chill caught riding home in the rain from that very meeting.
Taking the character of Shakespeare from Christopher Rush’s fictional ‘biography’ WILL, we have imagined what might have happened during that wet evening in Welford.
Our first attempt at a real-time drama, with the two acts set either side of supper.
Seven characters, the others being mine hostess, the barmaid, the potboy,
and another, mysterious diner - known only as Tolly.
Single set: the Parlour of the Bell Inn.
A TWELVEMONTH AND A DAY
LETTERS FROM THE
They all depart for India in 1835 and return after Independence in 1947, retaining their names and characters throughout but changing clothes, hairstyles (and sometimes attitudes) with the changing of the times - and of the Viceroys.
Six ladies, and only four men.
A set suggesting the deck of an 1835 sailing ship.
Adapted, with Christopher Rush, from his novel of the same name. Partly autobiographical, the book covers the twelve months of the fishing year alongside the first twelve years of the boy’s life growing up in Fife.
Large cast, mostly playing several roles. Two lads play ‘the boy’ aged six and twelve. Plenty of singing, and several opportunities for pianists.
“Revelation of a time past; the emotions of everyday life, love, humour, poverty and sorrow are carefully woven into a complete portrayal that would touch any
and every heart”.
Scriptwriting started for me when I was appointed Director at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy, and discovered that my contract included responsibility for writing and directing the annual pantomime.
My version of HUMPTY DUMPTY (a vehicle for a young Joe Pasquale) and my Fife-based version of ROBINSON CRUSOE
(the original Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk, was born five miles north of Kirkcaldy) are still available via Spotlight Publications.
During an attempt at early retirement in France I completed a couple of scripts -
a musical homage to early Hollywood, CASABLANCA HERE I COME,
and an adaptation of a book by Fife author Christopher Rush, A TWELVEMONTH AND A DAY.
I returned to Britain to promote these; settled back in Fife, and started a series of one-act and full-length plays
for the SCDA Festivals and for the local theatre groups. All of these are detailed below.
Encouraged by my eight tours of the Indian sub-continent, and by a comment that I didn’t write many good roles for ladies, I invented this ‘piece of theatre’ about the British women in India during the Raj, put together largely from the letters, diaries and biographies of the ladies themselves.
CASABLANCA HERE I COME was my homage to the black-and-white classics of my youth, and had a Cagney-style director trying to complete a film version of Dick Whittington despite the many attempts by a Bogart-style casting director to stop him. The script has been enjoyed and enthused over, but with its multiple settings and musical routines it has proved too costly for either amateurs or professionals. Unwilling to waste a good plot and some great lines it morphed into a non-musical play with a Cagney-style director trying to record a radio version of The Maltese Falcon despite the many attempts of a Bogart-style casting director to stop him. This started life in Scotland as THE MONTROSE BUDGERIGAR. I still have copies of the Scottish script but, following my move south, it seemed sensible to provide an English version. This is currently THE DYMCHURCH BUDGERIGAR, although the setting could be anywhere within easy reach of a BBC Radio Studio.
THE DYMCHURCH BUDGERIGAR
YOUR NUMBER’S UP
I was asked for a Murder Mystery suitable for presentation in non-theatrical venues such as function suites or restaurants, so I set it in a Bingo Club. The patrons are seated at tables, and into their second game when a scream is heard: a body has been discovered in the gent’s toilet.
A police inspector arrives: the Bingo Hall staff are the main suspects, and their personal foibles and family problems are soon exposed by his questioning. Some venues served a meal in the interval, with dessert or coffee during the short scene break in Act Two.
A Bingo machine of some sort, however basic, is necessary.
Four men; four ladies - plus a ‘plant’ in the audience.
4 ladies; 9 men - with several playing more than one role. Basic setting: a BBC Radio Studio although the final scene benefits from a full stage set representing a not-too-realistic Hastings Pet Shop
Director and cast are attempting to record a Murder Mystery vaguely reminiscent of The Maltese Falcon despite delays caused by the late withdrawal of a cast member and technical problems with the sound equipment, not to mention a certain animosity between two of the principals. Clearly someone is trying to disrupt the production, but who? And why?
SEE YOU IN HEAVEN
Clarkson Rose and his partner Olive Fox staged their first TWINKLE summer show on Ryde Pier in
1921. They did resident summer seasons with spring and autumn tours throughout the next 47 years. Twinkle was the main Eastbourne attraction from 1935 until war closed their Pier Pavilion. By then Clarkie and Olive had set up home in the town, where Clarkie’s doctor was the notorious John Bodkin Adams - alleged to have eased the passing of perhaps 140 of his elderly female patients.
SEE YOU IN HEAVEN tells of the arrest and trial of Dr Adams within the format of a Twinkle-style
’end-of-pier’ show, with songs, dances and sketches which include reminders of some of the
better-known variety performers and their classic routines from that period.
Four younger dancers (The Rosebuds); otherwise quite a mature company including several patients of Dr Adams (The Faded Roses?). Plus, of course, a small band in the pit