Monday 8th May to Saturday 13th May 1972
Produced and Directed by John Scadding
A special kind of farce, comedy and high drama. Collapse, conviction and conversion are everywhere!
'Major Barbara' was written and first produced as a play in 1905. The plot centres around an Officer of The Salvation Army; Major Barbara Undershaft when she becomes disillusioned following her section accepting money from an armaments manufacturer and a whisky distiller. The situation is further complicated when we find out that the arms manufacturer in question is also her father. She eventually decides that bringing a message of salvation to people who have plenty will be more fulfilling and genuine than converting the starving in return for bread.
Although Barbara initially regards the Salvation Army's acceptance of Undershaft's money as hypocrisy, Shaw did not intend that it should be thought so by the audience. Shaw wrote a preface for the play's publication, in which he derided the idea that charities should only take money from "morally pure" sources. He pointed out that donations could always be used for good, whatever their provenance, and he quoted a Salvation Army officer, "they would take money from the devil himself and be only too glad to get it out of his hands and into God's".
Bench Theatre's original name was 'Theatre Union' and was later changed to reflect the name of the theatre in West Street where most of their productions were staged. This play was performed under the original Theatre Union name and staged at The Bench Theatre building in West Street. It was the company's fourth major production at that venue which was their home for nearly 7 years.
Bench Theatre staged this play again in 1983 at Havant Arts Centre.
|Lady Britomart Undershaft||Eve Moore|
|Stephen Undershaft||Derek Cusdin|
|Miss Sarah Undershaft||Wendy Coates|
|Major Barbara Undershaft||Moira Wade|
|Mr Charles Lomax||David Lings|
|Mr Adolphus Cousins||Tony Starr|
|Mr Andrew Undershaft||Tim Mahoney|
|Rummy Mitchens||Wendy Coates|
|Snobby Price||Richard Coates|
|Jenny Hill||Maureen Smith|
|Peter Shirley||David Spackman|
|Bill Walker||Barry Reilly|
|Stage Manager||Ken Ayling|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Clive Wilson|
|Front of House||Joan Jevons|
|Set design and build||David Lings |
Major Barbara is a completely typical Shaw play. In it, Shaw shows people having their hearts broken and then getting over it. The play is full of it. Collapse, conviction and conversion are everywhere. Everybody, or nearly everybody, seems to be busy trying to change people or being changed themselves. Sometimes the effect is profoundly moving, at other times - a hoot! That is what is so exciting, I feel, about a Shaw play; the sad and the silly are often right next to each other. For the actor, of course, this can be rather difficult; having to switch quickly from one stile to another. A Shaw play is a special kind of farce, comedy and high drama. All are called for.