Thurs 28th November - Sat 30th November - Tues 3rd December - Sat 7th December 1991
Directed by John Scadding
The Wings is a home for retired actresses. When two rival stars find they will be living together, trouble can be expected. Add the inquisitive press, a clutch of stagey biddies and what of course inevitably does 'wait in the wings', and we have the master's last-but-one play of pathos and comedy.
"I thoroughly recommend it." NC
'Waiting in the Wings' was Coward's fiftieth play. It premiered in 1960 and is set in a charitable retirement home for actresses in that era, over a period of several months. It focuses on a feud between elderly residents Lotta Bainbridge and May Davenport, who once both loved the same man. The home itself is run by a charity; the committee for which, tries various means to raise money, however it soon becomes apparent that most of the committee members are regarded with scorn by the residents. A fund-raising show is organised, and separately, a journalist is invited to visit in the hopes of generating publicity and income for the charitable foundation. The plan backfires somewhat when an scathing article is published - however the cheque which arrives from the newspaper, softens the blow. Several of the residents' conditions deteriorate and the inevitable death of a character is at poignant odds with its circumstances. The final scene between Lotta and her son is a touching portrayal and reveals the cause of the decades-old animosity between the two main actresses. This play is a wise and compassionate address of the problems of aging and death that confront everyone crafted with Noël Coward's trademark comedy and wit.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|May Davenport||Rita de Bunsen|
|Cora Clarke||Jane Hemsley-Brown|
|Bonita Belgrave||Ruth Prior|
|Maudie Melrose||Wendy Stangroom|
|Deirdre O'Malley||Jenny Wilcox|
|Almina Clare||Sue Spencer|
|Estelle Craven||Ceri Tipler|
|Perry Lascoe||Simon O'Shea|
|Miss Archie||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Osgood Meeker||Derek Cusdin|
|Lotta Bainbridge||Nicola Scadding|
|Doreen||Zoe or Alice Corrigan|
|Sarita Myrtle||Sydonie Platt|
|Zelda Fenwick||Lisa Burrows|
|Doctor Jevons||Steven Penfold|
|Alan Bennet||Simon Norton|
|Topsy Baskerville||Rosemary Sawyer|
|Stage Management||Rosemary Sawyer|
|Lighting/Sound||Rob Finn, Sacha Pennington Ellis, Steven Penfold|
|Set Design||David Hemsley-Brown|
Characters by Coward have been sometimes described as being like "talking typewriters" with the charm of "stinging nettles". I prefer, however, to think of them as being more like warm-hearted icebergs!
"Hot ice", you may say "and wondrous strange snow." And hereby lies the mystery - the trouble with Coward.
The trouble with Coward was the problem he had finding a way to combine the warm side of himself with the harsher cold side. At his best he would manage it and act like a jovial ice-cube. At his worst, he would be stiff and rigid like those dreadful toffs in 'Cavalcade', or soppy as hell as in some of his musicals.
In his life as in his art there was a continuous struggle to combine the hard and the soft, the cold and the warmth in his own personality.
Tonight you will witness, among all the other happenings, the struggle of the soggy people to gain a bit of strength and the over strong people to achieve a bit of warmness. And some do finally make it. Hooray!