The Sea

Written by Edward Bond

Thursday 6th July to Thursday 8th July and Thursday 13th July to Saturday 15th July 1978

Directed by John Scadding

"Life is a terminal illness with laughter as the only tranquilliser." - BOND

AuthorEdward Bond

Edward Bond (b 1934)

Edward Bond, playwright, theatre director, poet, theorist and screenwriter, is the author of over fifty plays and was instrumental in the abolition of UK theatre censorship. Bond has always been highly controversial because of the violence shown in some of his plays and the radicalism of his statements about modern theatre and society. Evacuated as a child during WWII on returning he was exposed to the worst of the blitz and this early exposure to the violence and terror of war probably shaped themes in his work. His experience of the evacuation gave him awareness for strangeness in social life which will remain typical of his writing.

Edward Bond was born in Holloway, North London in 1934 and educated in state schools until the age of 14. During the Second World War he was evacuated to East Anglia to stay with his grandparents. He later served the obligatory 2 years National Service.

He was working in a factory when he became a member of the Writers' Group at the Royal Court Theatre. His first plays, 'The Pope's Wedding' (1962) and 'Saved' (1965), were staged at the Royal Court Theatre. His emergence as a writer coincided with what is known as the New Wave of British Theatre, which arguably was catalysed by John Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger' in 1956, and Bond is often mentioned in the same breath as Osborne, Arnold Wesker and Harold Pinter, and his success, like that of his peers, owes a lot to the dedication to nurturing new talent by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court. Bond's other plays include 'Narrow Road to the Deep North', 'The Bundle', 'Early Morning', 'Lear', 'Bingo', 'The Fool', 'The Woman' and 'Restoration'.

Bond - initially at least - had not been the darling of the critics, and was ignored by the masses. Censorship closed several of his plays ('Saved', 'Early Morning') after a couple of performances; they were judged to be too violent, shocking and immoral. Though highly controversial, Bond has always had supporters in high places; such as director William Gaskill of the English Stage Company who has always been committed to his plays. The critics and the public reversed their position on Bond after a revival of 'Early Morning' less than a year after its original production in 1968.

Bond is now considered to be one of the major living English playwrights. Despite this, the 'difficult' reputation which dogs both the man and his plays means he is rarely performed today. Bond is still writing and still politically engaged. Often he provides the introduction to his own published plays, and these polemical pieces clearly show the author's political and social standpoint, though they rarely provide a direct insight into his writing. The plays, we must assume he believes, speak for themselves.

Violence has always been a tool for Edward Bond through which he criticises society, but it has never been an end in itself. In his preface to Lear he writes, "The question of the play is why is it that violence is licensed by society, but only on a political level. When the same thing happens on an individual level, then it's absolutely disgraceful."

PlayThe Sea

Hatch is a draper in a small East-Anglian seaside town. He depends on selling to the lady of the manor, Mrs Rafi however, it seems that every special order expensive consignment she orders is returned - which is costing him money. A lot of money. He is also going slightly mad and believes that people from outer space are invading the earth. Following a tempestuous storm one night, when a well-loved villager is killed and a stranger is washed ashore, he manages to persuade other villagers that the stranger is more than he seems. In fact that he is the first wave of alien invaders, and that shipwrecks are a cover for the invading force.

Using biting wit and riotously funny characterisations, Bond uses acute social observation to touch on the themes of class and leadership - even when the nature of the leadership is to draw others on to madness. Written in 1971-72, 'The Sea' premiered in The Royal Court Theatre, London in 1973.

The Bench Production

The Sea poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


Willy CarsonTrevor Hare
EvensTony Adams
HatchDerek Cusdin
HollarcutBrian Sweatman
VicarPeter Duncan
CarterDavid Spackman
ThompsonRichard Sandwell
Louise RafiCindy Findon
Rose JonesAlison Dorey
Jessica TilehouseJanet Simpson
Mafanwy PriceNicola Fraser
JillyLinda Westbrook
RachelLinda Peake
DavisJane Towers


Director John Scadding
Stage Manager Tim Mahoney
Assistant Stage Manager Andrew 'Kenny' Everitt
Lighting John Baxter
Sound John Studd
Wardrobe Jen Jones
Set Ed Sawyer, Ray Osborne
Props Maureen Wellstead
Elizabeth Graham
Shirley Woodmansey
Make-up David Penrose
F.O.H. Ingrid Corrigan


The News Andrew Boyd

Company excels in play

Whether 'The Sea' by Edward Bond is a light-hearted tragedy or a black comedy depends on your outlook on life, but this latest offering by the Bench Theatre serves to remind you that life is a terminal illness, with laughter as the only tranquillizer. 'The Sea' takes a look at the effect of a drowning on the eccentric residence of an English coastal town, circa 1912. A young man is washed ashore, his best friend drowned at sea, but with the exception of the dead man's fiancee, the residents are too preoccupied with their own peculiar affairs to offer him anything more than tea and sympathy. Producer John Scadding and the Bench Theatre have excelled in their portrayal of these selected oddballs, choicest of whom is the splendidly demented and utterly xenophobic Hatch played with affection by Derek Cusdin.

Cindy Findon has conquered the role of town matriarch Louise Rafi - Ma'am to you - and can be complimented on dominating the play only within the bounds of her script. Jessica Tilehouse, alias Janet Simpson in real life, though mercilessly upstaged in her role by Louise, is thankfully her equal in performance as the fussy old spinster. Peter Duncan played the part of the Vicar as it was intended, purely for laughs. The play is showing today and Thursday, Friday and Saturday of next week at Havant Arts Centre.

The News, Saturday 8th July

Production Photographs