The Love of Four Colonels

Written by Peter Ustinov

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...

AuthorPeter Ustinov

Sir Peter Ustinov CBE (1921 - 2004)

Peter Ustinov was well-known as an actor, writer and dramatist, but he was also an accomplished filmmaker, theatre and opera director, stage designer, screenwriter, comedian, humorist, columnist, radio broadcaster and television presenter. In fact, faced with a list like this, it's difficult to think of something he wasn't good at. He was the sort of man for whom the term 'wit and raconteur' could have been invented and was also a respected intellectual and diplomat who, in addition to his various academic posts, served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and President of the World Federalist Movement.

Ustinov was the winner of numerous awards over his life, including Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards, as well the recipient of governmental honours from, amongst others, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

PlayThe Love of Four Colonels

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.

The Bench Production

The Love of Four Colonels poster image

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-SparrowDerek Ream
Colonel Wesley BreitenspiegelRay Osborne
Colonel Aime FrappotClive Wilson
Colonel Alexander IkonenkoDavid Spackman
The Mayor of HerzogenburgPeter Cole
The Wicked FairyDerek Cusdin
The Good FairyChristine Walker
The Sleeping BeautyBarbara Stride
The French BeautyEve Moore
The English BeautyDi Cochrane
The American BeautyHelena Whalley
The Russian BeautyMaureen Burness
Mrs Rinder-SparrowBarbara Stride
Mrs BreitenspiegelEnid Magnus
Mme FrappotDi Cochrane
Mme IkonenkoJeanette Donleavy


Directors Tim Mahoney
Ray Osborne
Stage Manager Barry Reilly
Lighting and
Special Effects
Ron Hone
Gordon Burrows
Costumes Di Cochrane
Helena Whalley


The NewsMike Allen

Play is Diabolikov funny

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

Production Photographs

(L)Derek Cusdin, (C)Eve Moore, (R)Derek Ream (L)Clive Wilson, (C)Derek Cusdin, (R)David Spackman