Written by Terence Rattigan

June 2000

Directed by Tim Taylor

Set in the now lost world of the actor-manager of the mid 20th Century, Harlequinade is a witty farce with elements of satire and pathos. Leading man Arthur's world is torn upside down one evening as he is just about to go on stage to play Romeo, when his hitherto unknown daughter appears. And the child she has with her? Is that just more good news?

AuthorTerence Rattigan

Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan CBE (1911 - 1977)

Terence Rattigan was born in 1911 in South Kensington, son of Frank Rattigan CMG, a diplomat. He was educated at Harrow School, and Trinity College, Oxford. His own upper-middle-class background is reflected in that most of his plays are staged in this walk of life.

Success as a playwright came early, with the comedy 'French Without Tears' in 1936, set in a crammer. Rattigan produced 'After the Dance' three years later which was a satirical social drama about the "bright young things" and their failure to politically engage. After the war, he alternated between comedies and dramas, establishing himself as a major playwright: the most famous of which were 'The Winslow Boy' (1946), 'The Browning Version' (1948), 'The Deep Blue Sea' (1952), and 'Separate Tables' (1954). His later plays include 'Ross', 'Man and Boy', 'In Praise of Love' and 'Cause Célèbre'.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1958 and was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1971 for services to the theatre. He spent the later year of his life living between London and Bermuda.


'Harlequinade' was first performed on 8 September 1948 at the Phoenix Theatre, London, along with 'The Browning Version'. A play in one act, it concerns a professional theatre company presenting Romeo and Juliet.

The play is set on opening night of a theatre in the town of Brackley in the Midlands, on a Monday evening in 1948. The principal characters are Arthur and his wife Edna (who play Romeo and Juliet) and the stage manager Jack. Arthur is horrified to be confronted by his grown up daughter (Muriel) and grandchild, having been previously aware of neither of their existences. To discover that he's a grandfather just before playing Romeo is too much for him. They later learn that he's still married to Muriel's mother (Flossie) and that his marriage to Edna is bigamous. There are a number of other threads running through this play, such as Jack's attempts to leave the theatre and do a 'real job' and the humdrum world of bit players and the attempts in post war Britain to bring culture to the masses.

This Production

Harlequinade poster image

Insiders was a drama company formed by Bench Theatre which included inmates and tutors from Kingston Prison, Portsmouth.

This play was staged at Kingston Prison with Bench Theatre collaborating with inmates and tutors from Kingston Prison, Portsmouth as "Insiders' Drama Group".


Arthur Gosport, an actor/managerChris H
Edna Selby, his wifeJudy Bodenham
Johnny, assistant stage managerFin S
Dame Maud GosportJanet Simpson
Jack Wakefield, the stage managerIan H
George ChudleighCharlie S
1st HalberdierSacha Armstrong
2nd HalberdierRob K
Mr Fishlock, the clerk/secretaryBill K
Muriel PalmerZoë Chapman
Tom PalmerTony J
Mr BurtonDavid Hill
Joyce LanglandSue Dawes
PolicemanRob K
Fred Ingram, an actorFin S


Director Tim Taylor
Stage Manager Sid K
Lighting Jim F
Sid K
Music Jim F
Poster Design Dave F
Costumes Sid K
Prop Construction Derek F