The Prescotian Webzine

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Theatrical Memories of the Fifties [Chris Hillyer]
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The school play in December 1956 was Hobson's Choice, by Harold Brighouse. The film, directed by David Lean, had been released two years earlier, with Charles Laughton in the title role. My part (Willie Mossop) was taken by John Mills.

The cast were taken to see the film before rehearsals started, but I'm not sure how the viewing changed the portrayal of our characters. The documents included with this note are a photograph of myself in the role of Mossop as the successful boot-maker at the end of the play.

The programme for the production signed by all the cast (except for D.J. Poole – I can't explain this omission, apart from my lifetime inability to complete anything properly), and Ian Fell, the electrician, and E. Fielding Kirk.

 
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In January 1956 the school put on two plays, The Ugly Duckling by A.A Milne and Androcles and the Lion by George Bernard Shaw, a bizarre coupling. In The Ugly Duckling I played the Prince, and my brother Roger the Princess – we are at the right on the photograph. As can be seen, my brother, although three years younger than I, was a stocky youth, and caused me some difficulty when I had to sweep him up into my arms and gaze (adoringly) into his (or rather her) eyes. The production team's answer was to provide a low bench behind him for him to hook his heels onto as I lifted him (or as he jumped backwards). I'm not sure how successful this was from the point of view of the audience; who were already in convulsions at the sight of us pretending to be lovers.
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In the production of Androcles and the Lion which followed, I was a simple Roman foot-soldier, while my brother had a speaking part as Megaera, the wife of Androcles. The only photograph I have shows me in a line-up of soldiers saluting Caesar. My abiding memory of the production is of Swarbrick (?) in a rather moth-eaten lion costume whiling away the time when he had to lie on stage without any action, by lifting his leg and scratching himself like a dog. I also remember a cast member with a lisp enunciating the line, “Ten thethtertheth, Thaethar”, to great acclaim.
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