The Noble Spaniard

Written by W. Somerset Maugham

Thurs 2nd October - Sat 4th October & Thurs 9th October - Sat 11th October 1980

Directed by Ray Osborne

An amusing farce as an impetuous wooer challenges all and sundry to duels of honour. Romantic and charming, this play carries us back to the days of crinolines and velvet collars.

AuthorW. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965)

Playwright, novelist and short story writer, Maugham was among the most popular writers of his era, and reputedly, the highest paid author during the 1930s.

Born in the British Embassy in Paris, both William's parents died by the time he was 10 and he was sent to live with his uncle in Whitstable. Maugham became a medical student at St. Thomas Hospital, London, and it was while training to be a doctor, that he worked as an obstetric clerk in the slums of Lambeth. He used these experiences to help him write his first novel, Liza of Lambeth which success encouraged him to become a full-time writer. Maugham achieved fame with his play Lady Frederick and by 1908, had four plays running simultaneously in London.

During the First World War, Maugham served with a Red Cross ambulance unit in France where he met the Gerald Haxton. The two men became lovers and lived together for the next thirty years. During the war Maugham worked as a secret service agent, acting as a link between MI6 in London and its agents working in Europe. Maugham had relationships with both men and women and in 1915, Syrie Wellcome, the daughter of Dr. Thomas Barnardo, gave birth to his child. He later married Syrie but continued to live with Gerald Haxton. The strain that this caused the marriage meant that they divorced after 10 years.

Maugham's prolific writing leaves a biliography of more than 18 novels, 25 plays, 16 works of non-fiction and 123 short stories.

PlayThe Noble Spaniard

This play was written and performed in 1908 but was not published until 1953 (the last of Maugham's plays to be published) some 45 years later. An amusing farce with clever and witty dialogue this play has become a staple of many amateur theatre companies.

Marion Nairn, a young widow, is spending the summer together with her young sister Lucy at Boulogne with Justice Proudfoot and his wife. The Duke of Hermanos, who is also passing his Summer at Boulogne, one day catches sight of Marion, and from that time on, her is her devoted admirer. He stands outside the window and admires for a few days, but finally he enters the house and declared his passion. Marion, ostensibly to get rid of him, tells him that she is married, whereupon he declares that her husband must die, and goes forth in search of him.

When the maid tells him that Justice Proudfoot is the master of the house, he naturally mistakes that elderly gentleman for Marion's husband and challenges him to a duel, which of course brings Lady Proudfoot under her husband's suspicion. One after another, the men in the piece are mistaken by the impetuous foreigner for the husband of his adored one, and one after another, he tries to fight them all. In the end Marion succumbs to this passion - it seems the only way to kill it.

The Bench Production

The Noble Spaniard poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. It was the first Bench play to be staged after the Arts Centre auditorium had been re-named 'The David Spackman Hall' in honour of the Bench founder-member who had died the previous year.


Lady ProudfootRobbie Cattermole
Mr Justice ProudfootTony Czapp
Marion NairnIngrid Corrigan
LucyAmanda Payne
Mary JaneHelen Simpson
Captain ChalfordAnthony Elliott
Count de MoretDerek Cusdin
Countess de MoretLinda Westbrook
The Duke of HermanosDavid Penrose


Director Ray Osborne
Stage Manager Jim Carlton
Assistant Stage Managers Ellie Constad
Leszley Picton
Lighting Fred Jeffrey
Jill Pothecary
Props Shirley Woodmansey
Karen Osborne
Costumes Robbie Cattermole
Rosalind Riley
Set Ed Sawyer
Jim Charlton
Front of House Sheila Spackman
Poster Design David Penrose
Programme Janet Webb
Publicity Tony Czapp
Ruth Prior


The News F.N.

Olé noble play brings laughs galore

A holiday mishap in Boulogne turns into an hilarious mishap for a group of Victorian aristocrats who are beset by an amorous Latin in the Bench Theatre's production of 'The Noble Spaniard' which opened at Havant last night. The comedy, by W. Somerset Maugham, takes off when a young English widow captures the fancy of a persistent Spanish nobleman. When she deceives the noble Spaniard into thinking that her husband is still alive, her suitor is only too willing to challenge almost anyone to a duel.

Mr Tony Czapp as the stuffy middle-aged Justice Proudfoot is the perfect foil for Mr David Penrose's portrayal of the amorous Spanish Duke. Mr Czapp carries his role as the sarcastic Judge burdened with a pretentious wife (Mrs Robbie Cattermole) to a hilt without losing the subtle dignity of the character. Mrs Cattermole also gives a fine performance as the shrieking Lady Proudfoot, who mistakenly believes herself to be the object of the dashing Spaniard's affection. The heated argument between the Spaniard and the French Count de Moret (Derek Cusdin) picks up on the quick pace ans witty satire which first impressed audiences in 1909. The confrontation between the hot-blooded Spaniards and the French Count allows both Mr Penrose and Mr Cusdin to excel in their characterization. The rest of the cast provides an even tone and balance to the scenes, keeping the air of elegant Victorian dignity which is necessary to appreciate the full quality of the script.

Full marks go to Mr Ed Sawyer and Mr Jim Charlton for an excellent set, which provided an elegantly decorated holiday villa while allowing the actors plenty of scope for movement. The wide range of costumes provided by Mrs Robbie Cattermole and Mrs Rosalind Riley lent a great deal to the atmosphere and characterization.

It was the first performance for the Bench in the newly-named David Spackman Theatre, a memorial to one of the members who died a year ago during his directing debut in the successful production of 'The Love of Four Colonels'. 'The Noble Spaniard' also marked the directional [sic] debut of Mr Ray Osborne, another founder member of the company. Mr Osborne can share his personal success of the play with the entire Bench Theatre, which continues to present a high standard of amateur dramatics at Havant Arts Centre. The play will be presented again tonight and tomorrow night, and on October 9, 10 and 11.

The News, 3rd October 1980

Production Photographs