The Rape of the Belt

Written by Benn W. Levy

Monday 13th March to Saturday 18th March 1972

Directed by Pamela Ayling

Greek heroes and Amazonian Queens fight the ancient battle of the sexes.

AuthorBenn W. Levy

Benn W. Levy (1900 - 1973)

As well as being a successful playwright, Benn Levy was a post-war Labour MP for 5 years from 1945. As an MP, he made an unsuccessful effort to abolish theatrical censorship in Britain, but it is for his plays that he is more often remembered. He wrote 16 works from 1925 until 1957 of which The Rape of the Belt was the last

PlayThe Rape of the Belt

This play is based (somewhat loosely) on a tale from Greek mythology. Heracles and Theseus, two celebrated heroes, arrive at the Amazons' capital of Themiscyra expecting to battle with the warrior women for possession of their 'Crown Jewels'. a belt belonging to their Queen. However, by clever use of a less well-known mythological name for the Amazon Queen, Benn Levy has created two, Antiope and Hippolyte, to confront and confound the heroes. To add to the confusion Zeus, the 'Top God' and Hera, his wife, add their comments and opinion to the happening and (if they do not approve) change the course of fate; Zeus in favour of the heroes and Hera (a founder of Women's Lib) in favour of the Amazons, with amusing conclusions.

The Bench Production

The Rape of the Belt 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 and staged at The Bench Theatre building in West Street. It was the company's third major production at that venue which was their home for nearly 7 years.


HeraJune Jaques
ZeusBarry Reilly
HippobomeneJoan Jevons
TheseusClive Wilson
HeraclesBrian Montefiore
AntiopeJo Leach
DiastaJanet Guthrie
HippolyteHelen Whalley
ThalestrisLynda Westbrook


Director Pamela Ayling
Set Builder Jim Jevons
Stage Manager Ken Ayling
Decor and
David Lings
Dennis O'Hara
Lighting Ray Osborne
Properties Jenny O'Hara


The NewsM.B.

Bench makes hay with old Women's Lib

Greek heroes and Amazonian Queens were fighting the battle of the sexes long before Women's Lib made its call to arms. In Benn Levy's comedy 'Rape of the Belt' Havant Bench Theatre has found some rich comedy in one ancient skirmish between the mighty hero Heracles and the beautiful but subtle women rulers of the Amazon. The result of the contest, inevitable perhaps in a play written by a man, is a male victory - but only just.

In the play, directed by Pamela Ayling, Heracles is the original superman with all the subtlety of a bull elephant. His motto basically is; if it moves hit it. Brian Montefiore plays the part splendidly, roaring his battle cry, clubbing everyone in sight and insisting that anything be solved by a nice, civilised war.

In the contest of brains and beauty against brawn, Jo Leach and Helena Whalley are the joint Amazon Queens; Antiope and Hippolyte and supply the former. If life were fair they should win hands down. Helping, or more often hindering Heracles in his battle to win the jewelled belt of the Amazon Queens is Clive Wilson as Theseus, a very unheroic hero who would rather woo the attractive Amazons than fight them. His learning seduction scene with the luscious Hippolyte one of the best in the play.

A major strength of the Bench Theatre is the range of talents it can call on for smaller parts. June Jaques, Berry Reilly, Joan Jevons, Janet Guthrie and Lynda Westbrook all added to the comedy's success.

A special word is due the theatre's backroom staff who have created a stylish and imaginative set in the typical working conditions of the tiny theatre at West Street, Havant.

The News, 14th March 1972

Production Photographs