Lonesome Pine

Written by Mike Hickman and Mark Wakeman

Totton - 24th March 2011, Shaftesbury - 16th April 2011

Directed by Roger Wallsgrove

An aging comedian lies dying, reflecting on his life and trying to write that last great film. A fantasy homage to a man called Stanley Jefferson, known to the world as Stan Laurel who, with his partner Ollie, proved there has to be laughter till the end.

The first round of the All England Theatre Festival (Western Area, Southern Division) is usually held at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton. Bench Theatre first entered the festival competition in 2006 and has been a regular contributor ever since.

AuthorsMike Hickman and Mark Wakeman

Mike Hickman

Mike was a member of Bench Theatre Company from 1997 to 2001 and formed this writing partnership with Mark Wakeman through a shared love of Laurel and Hardy. His first acting role with Bench Theatre was as Mr Gardner, in Simon Gray's 'Butley'. To date this is the only play he has written which Bench Theatre have performed.

Mark Wakeman (b 1972)

Mark Wakeman is an amateur author, playwright, actor and and director. He started writing short stories at the age of 8 and, spurred on by positive comments from a teacher, was inspired to write many more. It wasn't until he went to university, however, that his writing achieved wider recognition when two of his situation comedy scripts (co-written with Neil Kendall) - 'The Quiet Life' and 'Helpline' were performed by the University of North London Theatre Society. The success of these two works led to a full-length thriller, 'Undue Aggravation', being taken to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1995. Following university, he directed his own comedy 'Terror at Blagg Castle', which was produced by Goggles Theatre Company at Portsmouth Arts Centre in 1996, and Bench Theatre has produced several of his his one-act plays; 'The Unusual Suspects', 'Ice Station Zeros', 'Father for Justice', 'Lonesome Pine', 'Unworkable', 'The Big Freeze', 'Stand and Delivery' and 'The Girl in the Corner' for various 'Supernova' festivals of new writing since 2003.

His novels (as yet unpublished) include works in the detective, comedy, thriller, fantasy and sci-fi genres and he hopes to one day see one of his screenplays for sit-coms, TV detectives or sci-fi/action-spy thrillers accepted by the BBC. As an actor, Mark Wakeman has been performing since he was at school. The first of many acting roles with Bench Theatre was Dr John Jobling in 'Martin Chuzzlewit' in 1990 and he frequently receives excellent reviews. He directed several one-act plays at University of North London Theatre Society and his first directing role with Bench Theatre was 'The Office Party' by John Godber in 1998. As a member of the Soop Theatre Company, he has performed improvisational comedy in their 'Dude, Where's My Script?' shows since 2008.

Wakeman won Best Original Play for 'Stand and Delivery' (2007) and The Madge and Stanley Williams trophy for Best Script for 'Father for Justice' (2009) both in the All-England Drama Festival. Since he joined Bench Theatre in 1990, he has been a member of both the Bench Committee and Artistic Panel, and was Editor of Bench Press for a number of years. Mark Wakeman currently has four cats and lives in Havant.

PlayLonesome Pine

Stanley Jefferson was a music hall comedian who went to America to try and get his big break in the movies. Eventually ending up working for Hal Roach he became an accomplished writer, producer and director of short silent films, a 'Gag Man' with an instinctive genius for comedy who while appearing in a number of films, somehow never ignited the imagination of the US in the same way that his old friend Charles Chaplin did. He was on the verge of quitting performing to concentrate on writing when an accident brought him into a film with 'Babe' Hardy. When the two of them were on screen together, the public DID look and the public DID laugh and Jefferson became Laurel while 'Babe' became Oliver and a comedy legend was born.

The fictitious location of this play (The Lonesome Pine Ski Lodge) was chosen by the authors following reports of Laurel's dying words "I'd rather be skiing" - even though he had never been able to ski. The premise of Laurel's fantasies were taken from the fact that for many years after the death of Hardy, he continued to write scripts for the two of them - scripts that he must have known would never be performed. 'Lonesome Pine' was first performed with a different cast in 2005 at Havant Arts Centre as part of Bench Theatre's festival of new writing, Supernova3.

The Bench Competition Entry

Lonesome Pine poster image

This one-act play was staged at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Totton as part of the first round of the All England Theatre Festival 2011 competition. Pete Woodward was presented with the award for "Best Actor" at this festival, with the play being selected to progress to the second round, staged at The Arts Centre in Shaftesbury on April 16th.

For his portrayal as Ollie, Mark Wakeman received the "Best Actor" award at Shaftesbury and the part of Stanley was played by Roger Wallsgrove.


McCarey/DoctorMelanie Cole
Guiseppe/RolfThomas Hall
OllieMark Wakeman
*StanleyPete Woodward
Roger Wallsgrove
Nurse/FlorenceBeth Evans
MaisieClaire Lyne


Director Roger Wallsgrove
Stage Managers
Sally Hartley
Julie Wood
Stage Managers
Robin Hall
Diana Wallsgrove
Photography Melanie Cole

Production Photographs

Lonesome Pine Winners

The Bench Totton Winners 2011

...including cast and crew award winners from How to Visit Pompeii... and Computer Dating also staged at the same festival.

Some of our Loyal Supporters