Thursday 10th December to Saturday 12th December 1970
Produced and Directed by Tim Mahoney and Ray Osborne
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...
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 wickedly funniest.
Bench Theatre's original name was 'Theatre Union' and was later changed to reflect the name of the theatre in West Street where most of their productions were staged. This play was performed under the original Theatre Union name at Leigh Park Community Centre. Bench Theatre staged this play again in 1979 at Havant Arts Centre, as part of its 10th Anniversary celebrations in tribute to this very early production.
|Colonel Desmond de Rinder-Sparrow||Derek Ream|
|Colonel Wesley Breitenspiegel||Ray Osborne|
|Colonel Aime Frappot||Clive Wilson|
|Colonel Alexander Ikonenko||David Spackman|
|The Mayor of Herzogenburg||Peter Cole|
|The Wicked Fairy||Derek Cusdin|
|The Good Fairy||Christine Walker|
|The Sleeping Beauty||Barbara Stride|
|The French Beauty||Eve Moore|
|The English Beauty||Di Cochrane|
|The American Beauty||Helena Whalley|
|The Russian Beauty||Maureen Burness|
|Mrs Rinder-Sparrow||Barbara Stride|
|Mrs Breitenspiegel||Enid Magnus|
|Mme Frappot||Di Cochrane|
|Mme Ikonenko||Jeanette Donleavy|
|Directors||Tim Mahoney |
|Stage Manager||Barry Reilly|
|Lighting and |
It was just plain Diabolikov, Theatre Union's Peter Ustinov presentation. Diabolikov funny.
For 'The Love of Four Colonels' - as staged at Leigh Park Community Centre this week - is Ustinov at his most outrageous. It is a fantastic play with fantastic characters - with names like Professor Diabolikov. The Professor becomes better known as The Wicked Fairy, and his every trick is matched by a cooling simpering 'Good Fairy'. The two parts call for a stream of different personalities - and all of which are realized with endless virtuosity by Derek Cusdin and Christina Walker. These are terribly human personifications, and it is their role to steer the four Colonels - British, American, French and Russian - through their ideal love scenes.
Here are four very fine caricatures, but we see their real characters laid bare when they try to act out those ideals. Ray Osborne's American must be singled out. An amazingly versatile actor, he is as outstanding here as he was in Theatre Union's Pirandello presentation earlier this year. His Billy Graham type scene with Helena Whalley is a gem. So too is Ustinov's version of Shakespeare, though I feel Derek Ream as the Englishman could play up more to the very authentic-sounding blank verse. Production difficulties included a totally blacked-out dress rehearsal.
The News, 11th Dec 1970