This is when we started to go to the theatre less regularly – real life and poverty got in the way!
- A View from the Bridge – National Theatre Company at the Aldwych Theatre, London, 2nd January 1988
The National Theatre’s magnificent production of arguably Arthur Miller’s best play had transferred to the Aldwych and we were both mesmerised by it. Directed by Alan Ayckbourn at the peak of his directorial powers, and with an amazing central performance by Michael Gambon as Eddie Carbone, this was one of those nights at the theatre that stays with you for the rest of your life.
- Dangerous Obsession – Fortune Theatre, London, March 1988
N J Crisp’s unnerving psychological thriller of stalking menace had transferred from the Apollo Theatre and enjoyed a good little run. Dinsdale Landen was excellent in the lead role, and I remember it sent us away entertained but certain to make sure our doors were locked when we went to bed. This was the last show we saw before we got married – and we took my brothers-in-law-to-be along for the ride!
- Follies – Shaftesbury Theatre, London, 5th April 1988
We took the full family of newly acquired in-laws to see this fantastic production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical directed by Mike Ockrent. We were really looking forward to seeing Diana Rigg, and have to confess a little disappointment on the night when she was indisposed; nevertheless a great show, with Julia McKenzie, Daniel Massey and David Healy at the top of their games. The full cast list read like an evening of 1960s light entertainment television, with Leonard Sachs, Lynda Baron, Dolores Gray, Adele Leigh, and Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson. A great cast album too!
- Hapgood – Aldwych Theatre, London, 9th April 1988
We took my brother-in-law Barry to see Tom Stoppard’s latest play (before the whole family went back to Australia), and it was a clever, thought-provoking and cerebral experience, as is often the case with Stoppard, but fortunately one with some human connection – which isn’t always the case! Apparently, it was considered an artistic failure and had to be significantly revised for its New York premiere – but we really enjoyed it. The fantastic cast starred Iain Glen, Roger Rees, Felicity Kendal and Nigel Hawthorne – plus American soul singer Al Matthews!
- Les Liaisons Dangereuses – Royal Shakespeare Company at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, 12th October 1988
We were late to the party with this famous and hugely successful production, that had already been running for two years at the Ambassadors, having transferred from Stratford. Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Laclos’s novel had won a raft of awards, so when we finally got around to seeing it, we had big expectations. But despite the best efforts of Greg Hicks and Venetia Barrett in the cast, for me it fell rather flat, and at two- and three-quarter hours, very long. Maybe I was expecting the liaisons to be more dangereuses than they were.
- Blood Brothers – Albery Theatre, London, 15th October 1988
Willy Russell’s legendary musical captured our hearts and imaginations more that I could possibly have expected. With its gripping melodramatic structure, and its themes of fatalism and nature versus nurture, it’s one of the finest productions ever to grace a stage. We were lucky to see this dream team cast of Kiki Dee as Mrs Johnstone, Con O’Neill as Mickey, Robert Locke as Eddie, and Warwick Evans as the Narrator. Even today, you can’t put shoes on the table, and whenever you think of something as being just a sign of the times, you can’t resist but add Miss Jones into your musical equation. We saw it three times over the next thirty years – so, not an extravagant number of revisits – but this was the best of them all.
- How the Other Half Loves – Duke of York’s Theatre, London, 28th October 1988
A delightful revival of this early Ayckbourn comedy, directed by Alan Strachan, that shows the promise of all his later dark side to come, whilst stressing the hilarious farcical elements. Extremely funny all round, with a cast led by Christopher Benjamin and Gabrielle Drake.
- Easy Virtue – Garrick Theatre, London, 10th December 1988
To mark Mrs C’s birthday, we caught this revival of a less well-known Noel Coward caper, originally produced in 1925, directed by Tim Luscombe. The life and loves of an older lady come to life in this early play, and we really enjoyed it. The cast was led by the excellent Jane How, together with Zena Walker and favourite actor Ronnie Stevens.
- A Flea in her Ear – The Old Vic, London, August 1989
Moving past a touring production of Evita at the Apollo Oxford, with Jacqui Scott as Eva, and a gig by the one and only Monkees at the same theatre on the same night as our first anniversary, our next show was a production of the classic Feydeau farce, La Puce à l’oreille, dating from 1907. Translated by John Mortimer, Jim Broadbent played the central character of Victor Emmanuel, who also doubles up as the shady hotel porter. The excellent cast also featured Roger Lloyd Pack and Linda Marlowe. Much enjoyed!
- Exchange – Vaudeville Theatre, London, 24th February 1990
We saw this at a very hard-working and stressful time in our lives – somehow we must have managed to sneak a Saturday away with the Dowager Mrs C, I have no idea how. It doesn’t surprise me, although it disappoints me, that I have not one tiny recollection of this production! Exchange was a new translation by Michael Frayn of Yuri Trifonov’s 1976 play that, at the time, had not been out of repertoire in Moscow since it was written. It’s a slice of Moscow life – and I still can’t remember a thing about it. Martin Jarvis, Rosalind Ayres, Noreen Mantle, Gabrielle Lloyd and Zena Walker graced the cast. I’m sure they were good.