Play It Again, Sam

Written by Woody Allen

Thursday 26th April to Saturday 28th April and Tuesday 1st May to Saturday 5th May 2007

Directed by Mark Wakeman

Allan Felix loves being married! So does his wife, but unfortunately not to Allan.

Dick wants to help his newly divorced and desperate best friend but is currently fending off his fourth bankruptcy, so implores his wife Linda to re-launch Allan onto New York's single scene and bring him up to date with the rules of the dating game.

However, a series of disastrous dates looking for "The One" leads Allan to realise that she has been in front of him the whole time. Unfortunately she is already "The One" to another man... Dick.

When this love triangle comes crashing together it's going to be 'Casablanca' for someone. A hilarious comedy from the master of wit who wrote 'Manhattan' and 'Annie Hall'.

AuthorWoody Allen

Woody Allen (b 1935)

Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg in New York City. Raised in the city by his Jewish family, he attended Hebrew school before graduating from high school. At the age of 17, he legally changed his name to Heywood Allen and began writing comedic material under the name Woody Allen. After high school, he attended New York University, where he studied communication and film although he did not graduate. At 19, he started writing scripts for 'The Ed Sullivan Show', 'The Tonight Show' and other television programmes. In 1965 he wrote his first screenplay - 'What's New, Pussycat' and the next year directed 'What's Up, Tiger Lily?', his first film.

His career as a theatre writer started as early as 1960 when he wrote writing sketches for the revue 'From A to Z'. His first success was 'Don't Drink the Water', which opened in 1968 and continued with 'Play it Again, Sam', which premiered in 1969. In the 1970s, he wrote a number of one-act plays, most notably 'God' and 'Death', which were published in his 1975 collection 'Without Feathers'. In 1981, his play 'The Floating Light Bulb' opened on Broadway and while it was a critical success it was not a popular one and ran for only 62 performances.

After a long break from the stage, Allen returned to the theatre in 1995 with the one-act 'Central Park West', an instalment in an evening of theatre known as Death Defying Acts that was also made up of new work by David Mamet and Elaine May. In 2003 he also produced 'Writer's Block', an evening of two one-acts 'Old Saybrook' and 'Riverside Drive' which he also directed.

A diverse creative talent, Allen is also an acclaimed jazz clarinetist and has received 14 Academy Award nominations for 'Best Original Screenplay', more than any other writer. A troubled individual who has had therapy on-and-off for many years, he often writes autobiographical roles in his plays and films and has frequently cast himself in them.

PlayPlay It Again, Sam

Woody Allen started writing 'Play it Again, Sam' in 1968 while he was doing stand-up comedy in Chicago. Originally entitled 'Aspirins for Three', the play premiered at the Broadhurst Theatre in 1969, ran for 453 performances and was nominated for 3 Tony awards. It was also made in to a film in 1972 starring Allen himself and his ex-lover, Diane Keaton.

The action takes place in Allan Felix's New York apartment in the 1970s, from late summer, over a period of several weeks. Allan has just been through a messy divorce. His two friends, Linda and Dick convince him to go out with women again. Throughout the play, he is seen receiving dating advice from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart who is visible and audible only to Allan. Allan's ex-wife Nancy also makes fantasy appearances, as he imagines conversations with her about the breakdown of their marriage.

Eventually, Allan develops feelings for Linda. However, as she is married to Dick, their relationship is ultimately doomed, just as it was for Rick and Ilsa in the 1942 film, Casablanca. The ending is a parody of Casablanca's famous ending. The fog, the trench coats worn and the dialogue are all reminiscent of the film, as Allan nobly explains to Linda why she has to go with her husband, rather than staying behind with him.

The Bench Production

Play It Again, Sam poster image

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


AllanJeff Bone
DickDarryl Wakelin
LindaFrancine Huin-Wah
BogartAlan Welton
NancyJulie Wood
GirlfriendsRobyn Hunt
Fiona Fairhurst


Director Mark Wakeman
Assistant Director Zoë Chapman
Producer Lorraine Galliers
Stage Manager John Wilcox
Assistant Stage Managers Sian Green
Megan Green
Lighting Design Robin Hall
Damon Wakelin
Lighting Operation Dan Finch
Sound Designer Darryl Wakelin
Sound Operation Robin Hall
Mark Wakeman
Costume and Props Francine Huin-Wah
Hair Helen Zervas
Production Design Francine Huin-Wah
Set Construction Sue Dawes
Dan Finch
Francine Huin-Wah
Steve Mason
Paul Millington
Nina Slatterley
Tim Taylor
John Wilcox
Programme Designer Lorraine Galliers
Production Photography Andrew Iles
Front of House Manager Megan Green

Director's Notes

I first discovered Woody Allen in my bed. He wasn't in my bed, you understand, I was, he was just on the television and it was on an entirely different occasion, still including my bed though, that I discovered 'Play it Again Sam'. I can assure you this does not mean that I spend most of my waking life in bed, it was just a big co-incidence.

Like a lot of overweight children, I discovered that comedy was a good way of avoiding relentless beatings and name-calling at school and so I was always seeking new sources of humour which I could fob off as my own (most nine year-olds aren't that versed in the history of comedy so there was a whole untapped area that I could plagiarise then and now), and because of this an interest in comedy began which has lasted to this day.

My parents had introduced me to my early comedy heroes like Laurel and Hardy through BBC2's extremely useful film seasons. Then one day BBC2 announced a Woody Allen season. My parents were not fans and advised me against watching. But he looked pretty funny... although his films weren't shown until 9pm when I was supposed to be tucked up in bed... however there was an old black and white portable in my room and at nine I turned on BBC2, sitting as close to the screen as possible with the sound at the bare minimum to prevent angryius parentis interuptus and watched my first Woody Allen; 'Love and Death'. I didn't understand all of it but I did find it amusing. So over the next couple of weeks I snuck in some more.

When I was older I was exposed to more of his films and found that I enjoyed them immensely but I didn't see 'Play it Again Sam' until my room-mate at university revealed that he directed and starred in a version of the play at college and offered to show me this video. So we sat together on my bed with our cans of cheap lager and watched the film.

in my directing at the Bench, I have been working my way through the various sub genres of comedy, madcap farce, period, black comedy, etc and my mind wandered to Mr Allen's work, so that led me to 'Play it Again, Sam' and my first attempt at a romantic comedy.

I hope you enjoy the show. I'd like to take this chance to thank my cast and crew for all their hard efforts and ask you to clap and cheer very loudly at the end because they deserve it. I'd also like to thank you for supporting local theatre because without you we wouldn't get to do this, so keep on coming. Enjoy the show!

Mark Wakeman


The NewsMike Allen

Play tries too hard to be manic

The message of Woody Allen's play is "Don't try too hard." So it's a pity director Mark Wakeman and lead actor Jeff Bone do exactly that. Unless a performer has the ability of Allen himself, neurosis tends to be better under-performed than over-performed, and the fact is that the less manic Bench Theatre's production becomes, the funnier and more truthful it is.

Wakeman is too inclined to have his characters pacing endlessly and tiresomely back and forth, and Bone needs to let the words do more of the talking. He plays an oddball film critic, Allen Felix, who is obsessed with Humphrey Bogart's Casablanca and demoralised by his wife's parting shot: "I don't dig you physically, but don't take it personal."

In a series of fantasy scenes, he takes inspiration from Bogart himself - a role in which Alan Welton shows a fine mastery of the laconic style - with some success. The touching nature of this aspect, and the precision of other fantasy scenes in which Allen Felix plays out a couple of pastiche Noel Coward sketches, show the production at its best.

Darryl Wakelin is properly deadpan as the friend obsessed with business and Francine Huin-Wah plays his wife with natural warmth and honesty. The 90-minute production is played without an interval. Until May 5.

The News, 27th April 2007

Production Photographs