Trelawny of the Wells

Written by Arthur Wing Pinero

Thursday 8th May to Saturday 10th May and Tuesday 13th May to Saturday 17th May 1986

Directed by John Scadding

It's May 1860 and Miss Rose Trelawny of the Wells Theatre Islington is about to take her leave of The Company as she prepares to be married to the Baronet's grandson. Of course there may be a few little difficulties between actors and aristocracy but it should all work out splendidly. And then...

AuthorArthur Wing Pinero

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855 - 1934)

Arthur Pinero was born in London and studied law before going on the stage. After acting in Liverpool and Edinburgh, he joined the Lyceum Theatre company in London in 1876, where he acted in supporting roles for five years.

Pinero began writing plays in the late 1870s while at the Lyceum. He became a prolific and successful playwright, writing fifty-nine plays, although his plays are rarely performed today. His works include serious social dramas, some dealing with social hypocrisy surrounding attitudes to women in second marriages. At least 5 of his plays were made in to films and he was knighted in 1909.

He was one of the few dramatists of his time who wrote strong parts for leading ladies. He became famous for the reverse psychology techniques he used when directing some of these women, particularly when they would not play the role as he had asked them to.

PlayTrelawny of the Wells

This play was performed for the first time at the Court Theatre London, shortly after it was written in January 1898. It was made in to a film in 1938 and was televised for the 'BBC Play of the Month' in 1972. Pinero wrote Trelawny of the Wells at a time of great innovation in the Victorian theatre. Set in the 1860s, 30 years before it was written, it sees Rose Trelawny, a young actress at Sadler's Wells Theatre, leaving the company to marry into aristocracy. For this, she must forsake her theatrical, and therefore morally suspect, past. However, the deadly dullness of respectable life drives her to distraction and Rose is forced to make a difficult decision about her future. Can she tolerate society, or more to the point, can society tolerate her? This is a charming romantic comedy, and a period piece set against the background of life in the Victorian Theatre.

The Bench Production

Trelawny of the Wells poster image

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


James TelferTerry Cattermole
Augustus ColpoysStuart Hartley
Ferdinand GaddPeter Holding
Tom WrenchTony Kellaway
Mrs TelferJanet Simpson
Aviona BunJane Hart
Rose TrelawnyJo German
Imogen ParrotNicola Scadding
O'DwyerStuart Hartley
Members of the Company of the Pantheon TheatrePeter Holding
Bill Bickers
Stephen Evans
Alison Habens
Hall KeeperRobbie Cattermole
Sir William GowerDerek Cusdin
Arthur GowerDavid Brown
Clara de FoenixVeronica Kellaway
Miss Trafalgar GowerRobbie Cattermole
Captain de FoenixTerry Cattermole
Mrs MossopRuth Prior
Mr AblettStephen Evans
SarahAlison Habens
CharlesStephen Evans


Director John Scadding
Stage Manager Bill Bickers
Assistant Stage Managers Karen Bickers
Mike Boyce
Lighting Jude Salmon
Sound Ben Payne
Costumes Ingrid Corrigan
Poster Pete Woodward
Set Design David Penrose
Publicity Sue Cooremans
Barbara Lynch
Fittings Sheila Spackman

Director's Notes

In the 1860s when Pinero was a boy, a new start was made in English Theatre. T W Robertson, a not very successful actor rented a tatty old theatre in Tottenham Court Road and put on his own new play. This was the start of the new 'well made play' in England. This new style eventually swept away the melodrama theatres replacing them with smaller theatres and small cast plays with French windows and all that. Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, J B Priestly and Rattigan followed and this kind of play is still being written today.

Pinero saw the start of this new, more intelligent theatre, approved of it and wrote in the new Robertson style himself. However, looking back in middle age, as he wrote 'Trelawny' he not only rejoiced in the new drama created by Tom Wrench/Tom Robertson but he case a loving glance back to the bad old theatre of the 'little brain' and the 'big voice' and he rather wondered if perhaps as much had been lost as was gained now that the new 'cup and saucer' drama had been invented.

Ah if only we could cry "anyone for tennis" and hiss the villain in the same play. Well, we can tonight for in this little comedy Pinero strives to place itsy bitsy naturalism with good old ham and does he slice thick chunks of it.

Well, so there you are then. Have a nice play.

John Scadding


The News Tom Hughes

Players make the best of comedy

It is ironical that on a night when Victorian standards were being put to the test, and as some would say, the sword, the Bench Theatre was putting Victorian on the rack at Havant Old Town Hall. Pinero's 'Trelawny of the Wells', when viewed through Elizabethan glasses, is as dated as a "Cries of London" print, but with definite humour. The Bench Players have combined to run over these places and deliver the meat of this romantic comedy with a great deal of enthusiasm and aplomb.

When actress Rose Trelawny, convincingly played by Jo German, is wooed by Arther Gower, heir to the Grantham title (a little more irony there) aristocratic hands are wrung, and Nell Gwynne's ghost lurks in every corner. There is something for everybody in this light-hearted romp and all the players seems to make the most of what they have to do, though I was particularly taken with Jane Hart's interpretation of Avonia Bunn.

This is the first time I have seen the Players in action and I was much impressed with the way they handled material, which while not perhaps as waspish and witty as Wilde, still contained plenty to laugh and think about.

The News, 9th May 1986

Production Photographs