The Philanthropist

Written by Christopher Hampton

Thursday 4th May to Saturday 6th May and Thursday 11th May to Saturday 13th May 1978

Directed by David Penrose

philan'throp|ist, (n.) someone who "loves people only because he is too weak-willed to hate them". [f.GK PHIL (anthropos man)]

AuthorChristopher Hampton

Christopher Hampton (b 1946)

Born in in Portugal, Hampton spent his childhood in Aden, Egypt and Zanzibar, then studied French and German at Oxford University. He was the youngest writer ever to have a play staged in the West End, and was resident dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre during the 1960s. His own stage plays include 'When Did You Last See My Mother', 'Total Eclipse', 'The Philanthropist', 'Savages' and 'Treats' and his most famous work 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses', however he is also well known as a screen-writer.

He wrote 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' (which was adapted and translated from the novel by Choderlos de Laclos) and later adapted this as a screenplay. As a film, 'Dangerous Liaisons' was an international success and Hampton won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with it. He also wrote the stage adaptation and co-wrote the lyrics for Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Sunset Boulevard', and the screenplay for the BAFTA & Oscar nominated film, 'Atonement'.

PlayThe Philanthropist

Written in 1970, the story of 'The Philanthropist' is a blend of comedy and pathos centring around a shy university professor's love life - or lack thereof. The Prime Minister and his cabinet have been assassinated and England's most treasured writers are being murdered one by one. Back at the university, Philip, a bachelor don anguishes over sex, marriage, anagrams and the meaning of life. His fiancee leaves him, his best friend takes the only other woman he loves and surrounded by friends, he feels more alone than ever.

Written as a response to Molière's 'The Misanthrope' and first performed at the Royal Court in 1970, this biting 'bourgeois comedy' examines the empty, insular lives of college intellectuals.

The Bench Production

The Philanthropist poster image

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


PhilipTony Czapp
DonChris Shaw
JohnPaul Brodrick
CeliaSharon Rose
BrahamRay Osborne
AramintaDenise Stapleton
LizKaty Dodd


Director David Penrose
Stage Manager Jacquie Penrose
Lighting Paul Morris
Sound Brian Sweatman
Costumes Katy Dodd
Set Ed Sawyer
Props Ann Brodrick
Scene Changes Alison Dorey
Barbara Mills

Programme Notes

David Penrose

- admits to having studied English at Leeds University and has a Drama M.A., but is reluctant to acknowledge his Law Degree. Among his University Am.Dramatic Productions are 'Forty Years On', 'Mother Courage and Her Children', 'Luther', and 'Total Eclipse'; the latter written by Christopher Hampton, author of 'The Philanthropist'. David joined the Bench in the Autumn of 1976 and took major roles in 'As You Like It', 'Hands Across the Sea' and 'A Day in the Death of Joe Egg' as well as creating many Bench posters since his arrival. He is nevertheless quite young.

Tony Czapp

- an electrical engineer who studied at Middlesex Polytechnic. During four years with the Pye Dramatic Society, he appeared in 'Move Over Mrs Markham', 'Night Must Fall', 'The Apple Cart', and numerous Festival plays. He joined the Bench in the Summer of 1977 and took the gripping part of Shanks in 'Habeas Corpus'. This was followed by two appearances in Radio Victory's 'A Christmas Fantasy'. He describes the role of Theseus in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' as the first serious one he has ever played. A stylish member of the Bench Football Team, Tony feels that he no longer needs make-up for mature roles.

Chris Shaw

- joined the Bench at the end of 1977. He took production photographs for our last two plays and was responsible for the costumes and make-up of Oberon and Titania in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. He admits to having directed a group of go-go dancers and to running Radio Horndean School until the equipment was stolen. Lies about his age.

Paul Brodrick

-is a student at Havant College, taking History, English and Economics at A level. At the Bench he appeared in 'As You Like It' as a Lord, and helped with lights for 'Habeas Corpus'. He describes his part in 'The Philanthropist' as his first dramatic role and explains that he practised for it by falling off chairs. He has organised two pancake races.

Sharon Rose

- has been a Bench member since 1974 and her major appearances have been in 'The Bald Prima Donna', 'The Pongo Plays', 'Andorra', 'A Man for all Seasons', 'A Delicate Balance', and 'Red Peppers'. She directed 'Arms and the Man' and 'All Things Bright and Beautiful'. She appeared in 'A Christmas Fantasy' on Radio Victory. Sharon trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and teaches locally. The role of fiancee is familiar to her as she is getting married in August.

Ray Osborne

- is a founder member of the Bench and has played many memorable roles including Willy Loman in 'Death of a Salesman', Archie Rice in 'The Entertainer', The Producer in 'Six Characters in Search of an Author', Wesley Breitenspiegel in 'The Love of Four Colonels', Lord Hastings in 'Richard III, Magus in 'The Real Inspector Hound' and Murray in 'The Happy Apple'. He has been involved with fund-raising, Front-of-House, building maintenance and many other aspects of Bench activities. He plays the Blues Piano and is an avid reader of the Occult.

Denise Stapleton

- joined at the beginning of 1978 and assisted with hairdressing for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. She works in the personnel department of a bank, and cashed in on a bout of German Measles by learning her lines in bed. Denise describes herself thus; "Very nervous as this is my first attempt".

Katy Dodd

On joining the Bench, Katy was persuaded to appear as a fairy in our last production. As a nurse with psychiatric experience, she is perhaps used to real-life drama. She feels her present role of housewife is in comparison, rather mundane, although she swims, rides and skates when possible. She is thinking of hang-gliding and Robert Redford.

Jacquie Penrose

- is an English teacher who joined the Bench in the Autumn of 1976. She has appeared in 'Ways and Means' and 'Habeas Corpus' and was joint Stage Manager for 'As You Like It'. An ex-member of Leeds University Amateur Dramatic Society, Jacquie translated and produced Machiavelli's 'The Mandrake' at Warwick. Likes kitchen gardens and string.


The News Andrew Boyd

Play starts with a bang

The Philanthropist by Christopher Hampton, Havant bench Theatre's latest offering, is guaranteed to have its audience starting from their seats in the first scene. Not that the play is bad - it is an excellent script, admirably performed, but it gets off to an explosive start. Sex, violence, tragedy, farce - The Philanthropist has the lot, but above all it has strong wit, with puns liberally interwoven with pathos as the play draws to its climax in the symbolical immolation of the anti-hero Philip.

Tony Czapp is splendid as the ineffectual, babbling, Philip, the sort of man who has sand kicked in his face with monotonous regularity. Sensitive, downtrodden, a lecturer in English, but incapable of communication, he is surrounded by friends, yet alone in his white faculty room at Oxford. A reluctant, failed lover, whose fiancee despairs and leaves him, and whose best friend takes the only other woman he wants, Tony Czapp's Philip oozes pathos even when he eats cornflakes.

Sharon Rose is completely natural as his disillusioned fiancee. Much of the play is sitting room conversation and her even, homely manner, makes the audience feel more like friends than spectators. Chris Shaw is the amiable Don, Philip's best friend, is relaxed and adequate for the part. Less convincing was Denise Stapleton, as Araminta, who was far too sweet for the worldly wise mantrap she portrayed. This is her first role with the Bench and any early reticence may have been fear of over acting. A flawless performance as Braham, a nouveau riche, boorish writer of pulp fiction, came from Ray Osborne, a founder of the Bench, whose performance was about as professional as any in amateur theatre.

Producer David Penrose, drama teacher at Havant College and Director of Langstone Children's Theatre, has ambitions to turn professional but is content at present to work with the company with standards as high as the Bench - and on this performance it's not hard to see why. The Philanthropist was voted best comedy of 1971. In case you are in any doubt, the title refers to Philip, who loves people only because he is too weak-willed to hate them. He gets all the best lines. There are further performances, Havant Arts Centre tonight, and tomorrow at 7.30 p.m. and on May 11, 12 and 13.

The News, 5th May

Production Photographs