Thursday, July 7, 2016

3 August: Rookery Nook

I was delighted that so many of you enjoyed July's A Doll's House, and Ibsen is definitely going to appear on our agenda again!

I am also very happy that you enjoyed the cheesecake.  Here's the link to the embarrassingly easy recipe:

There was a request for something funny in August, and so I am going to put forward a play that I've not read!

When I lived in Godalming the local Am Dram groups performed in The Ben Travers Theatre: and so I have often thought I should investigate his work.  And this set off a chain of thought.  I believe the theatre was so named because he was an old-boy of Charterhouse School, where the theatre was located (Charterhouse is one of the UK's most expensive private schools and was in the same town where I used to live - and, interestingly, my nephew who was not educated there went on to become their theatre technician until very recently!).  Another famous, and still living, old boy is Ben Elton - and so I have popped a book of his plays into my Amazon shopping basket as I think we might enjoy one or two of them!

Back to Rookery Nook!

This is a traditional English farce, with sexual innuendo and misunderstandings - a sort of grown-up pantomime! Therefore I am not going to attempt to reveal the plot, but a list of characters will definitely be a help!

  • Gertrude Twine: Formidable wife of Harold
  • Mrs Leverett: Charwoman
  • Harold Twine – Gertrude's husband
  • Clive Popkiss – Gerald's cousin - staying with the Twines
  • Gerald Popkiss – Gertrude's new brother-in-law
  • Rhoda Marley – Local resident, young, pretty ...
  • Putz – Rhoda's wicked step-father
  • Admiral Juddy – Golfing pal of Harold
  • Poppy Dickey – Lively local woman who collects for charity
  • Clara Popkiss – Gertrude's newly married sister/Gerald's wife
  • Mrs Possett 

Rookery Nook was first staged in 1923 and has been revived several times since then.  In 2005, Charles Spencer wrote in The Daily Telegraph, "Beneath the laughter, Rookery Nook is blessed with a robust tolerance, celebrating sexual desire and human frailty, even as it deplores those gossips addicted to 'vile scandals, venomous libels, and dirty little tattling tea parties'. In this respect, at least, Travers still has something to say to the England of today.

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Ben Travers  (12 November 1886 – 18 December 1980)

Ben Travers wrote more than twenty plays, thirty screenplays, five novels, and three volumes of memoirs. He is best remembered for his long-running series of farces first staged in the 1920s and 1930s at the Aldwych Theatre. Many of these were made into films and later television productions.
After working for some years in his family's wholesale grocery business, which he detested, Travers worked for a publisher and then as a pilot in the First World War before beginning to write novels and plays. During the Second World War Travers served in the Royal Air Force, working in intelligence, and later served at the Ministry of Information, while producing two well-received plays.
After the war Travers's output declined; he had a long fallow period after the death of his wife in 1951, although he collaborated on a few revivals and adaptations of his earlier work. He returned to playwriting in 1968. He was inspired to write a new comedy in the early 1970s after the abolition of theatre censorship in Britain permitted him to write without evasion about sexual activities, one of his favourite topics. The resulting play, The Bed Before Yesterday (1975), presented when he was 89, was the longest-running of all his stage works, easily outplaying of any of his Aldwych farces.

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