Thursday 4th to Saturday 6th and Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th October 1979
Directed by David Spackman
The time; just after the Second World War. The place; a village in the Hartz Mountains, disputed by Britain, France, America and Russia. As a consequence of this dispute on a high level, this innocent and charming spot is cursed with an abundance of Colonels, charged by their governments to carry on the friction at an intimate, domestic level...
This production celebrates 10 years of Bench Theatre.
In the conference room of a four-power zone in Germany, four Colonels, representing their respective countries are apparently getting nowhere with their negotiations except deeper into a mess of red tape. Enter a man called the 'Wicked Fairy' and what follows is a dream-like look at their ideals and the inordinate lengths that some will go to to claim what they see as rightfully theirs. Based in part on the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, with sections of blank verse worth of Shakespeare himself, The Love of Four Colonels is Ustinov at his most outrageous and his wickedly funniest.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. It was particularly chosen in celebration of the company's 10th anniversary, as the original 1970 production was only the second play that Bench Theatre had ever staged. It was a particular favourite of many company members and suggested by the director, David Spackman as the 10th anniversary production.
A note of added poignancy came to this production when Bench founder member and Director, David Spackman died on Tuesday 2nd October following the dress-rehearsal, just two days before opening night. He was 57. The cast and crew decided to proceed with the play as a tribute to him. A quiet man who was known by many as a tower of strength to the Bench, David's absence would be missed enormously. As a further fitting tribute to him, the auditorium at the Havant Arts Centre was later re-named the David Spackman Theatre, a name it holds to this day.
|Colonel Desmond de Rinder-Sparrow||Terry Cattermole|
|Colonel Wesley Breitenspiegel||Ray Osborne|
|Colonel Aime Frappot||Peter Corrigan|
|Colonel Alexander Ikonenko||Paul Morris|
|The Mayor of Herzogenburg||Chris Stagg|
|The Wicked Fairy||Derek Cusdin|
|The Good Fairy||Nicola Fraser|
|The Sleeping Beauty||Linda Westbrook|
|The French Beauty||Jill Sawyer|
|The English Beauty||Diana Stagg|
|The American Beauty||Ruth Prior|
|The Russian Beauty||Jill Duncan|
|Mrs Rinder-Sparrow||Robbie Cattermole|
|Mrs Breitenspiegel||Eve Moore|
|Mme Frappot||Janet Simpson|
|Mme Ikonenko||Sharon Morris|
|Stage Manager||Tim Mahoney|
|Lighting||Anthony Elliott |
|Props||Linda Westbrook |
Joined the Bench in January 1975 and first appeared in 'The Real Inspector Hound' and later in Habeas Corpus, our first production at the Arts Centre.
A constant performer in the Royal Navy and best remembered as an Ugly Sister in H.M.S. Vernon before joining the Bench in early 1975. Has appeared in the Music Hall, 'The Government Inspector' followed by several disappearances in 'Loot'.
Since joining the Bench in 1972 has directed three productions and appeared in a great variety of parts; his last appearance being as the Constable in 'The Government Inspector'
A Founder Member of The Bench Theatre who has appeared in many of the plays over the last 10 years and hopes to appear in many more over the next 10 years.
Her first appearance after joining the Bench in 1974 was as the maid in 'The Bald Prima Donna'. Jill co-ordinated the music for our two Music Hall productions and has also acted in several productions including 'Arms and the Man'.
Joined in 1976 after thinking about it for six years. Amongst other parts has enjoyed playing a neurotic teenager in 'Antigone' and a frustrated spinster who imitates dogs in 'The Sea'. Hopes to play someone a little more normal one day.
Joined the Bench in 1970 with the first production of 'Love of Four Colonels'. Has appeared in Music Hall and had leading parts in several plays. Her last appearance was in 'The Government Inspector'.
Joined in 1974 to play the part of Mrs Smith in 'The Bald Prima Donna'. Has played various parts and directed three plays including 'Arms and the Man' and 'The Government Inspector'.
Joined the Bench in 1976 and appeared in 'As You Like It' and Midsummer Night's Dream' amongst other roles. Produced the last play, 'Loot'.
Another founder member who has appeared in and been associated with productions from 'Six Characters in Search of an Author' to 'Loot' this year. Currently Secretary to the company.
Has played a variety of parts since joining in 1974, including Mrs Smith in 'The Bald Prima Donna' and Rosalind in 'As You Like It'. Struggled to be young again as Anya in 'The Cherry Orchard' and almost succeeded. Has produced plays and hopes to produce more with the Bench unless discovered by a myopic talent scout.
Joined in June 1976 and first acted with the Bench in 'As You like It'. Undertook the mammoth task of producing the latest Music Hall and her last appearance was in 'The Sea'.
Founder Member of the Bench Theatre and regular Committee member. Has appeared in many Bench Productions. He played Colonel Ikonenko in the original production of 'The Love of Four Colonels'. This production is his first as a director.
Husband and wife, and both new members this year. Welcome to the Bench.
Came to the Bench two years ago with a background of music and opera. Has appeared in one-act plays; this is her first part in a larger production.
Last seen in Noel Coward's 'Private Lives' and always as an invaluable 'backstage member'.
In the best traditions of the British stage - 'the play must go on' - the Bench Theatre produced 'The Love of Four Colonels' last night as a tribute to Director David Spackman. But most of the first-night audience were unaware that Mr Spackman died on Tuesday night after the dress rehearsal. The Bench decided that the greatest tribute it could pay its late Director was to go ahead with performances, and no formal announcement of his death was made to the audience. The Peter Ustinov comedy was the Bench's first production 10 years ago. Last night the group certainly did justice to the play. The setting is a German village with a magic castle and the battle is not between the Colonels but the forces of good and evil.
The play opens in the office of the Allied Administration after the Second World War with a Russian, French, American and British colonel discussing how to get troops in to the nearby castle. They are approached by a wicked fairy, a very strong character well portrayed by Derek Cusdin. He tells them that inside the castle is the Sleeping Beauty waiting to be awakened by a kiss. But his dishonourable intentions to corrupt the Beauty are challenged by the Good Fairy (Nicola Fraser) who also accompanies the Colonels to the castle. It is then that the fun really begins.
Each of the Colonels falls in love with the Beauty and acts out a character he has always dreamed of being with the Sleeping Beauty temporarily awakened. The Frenchman, Frappot (Peter Corrigan) is the first to try to seduce the Beauty with the scene set in pre-Revolutionary France. So, too, does Rinder-Sparrow (Terry Cattermole) who is transformed in his dream-world from a righteous-thinking leader to a lustful Englishman of the 1600s. The romantic American (Ray Osborne) sees himself as a priest. The Russian (Paul Morris) does not even attempt to seduce her. Eventually the Colonels are faced with the choice of staying in a perfect, uncorrupted world or returning to the world of harsh reality to continue their fight with the forces of good and evil. To stage this production, with a cast of 14, it required a lot of work, especially by Viv Aitken and Robbie Cattermole, who provided the costumes. Performances continue tonight and on October 6, 11 ,12 and 13 at Havant Arts Centre, East Street.
The News, 5th October 1979