Ian McKellen Stage
Edward (Brian Oatley), Margaret (Ian McKellen), Bacon (Geoffrey Tetlow)
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FRIAR BACON & FRIAR BUNGAY (1953)

Written by Robert Greene
Directed by Frank Greene
Ian McKellen in the role of Margaret
Bolton School Great Hall
24 March 1953 - 28 March 1953

Words from Ian McKellen

The Great Hall of Bolton School Boys' Division, is a 20th-century version of a mediaeval hall, complete with wooden hammer-beam roof. Each Spring Term it was transformed into a temporary theatre. Almost 1000 squeaky rush-bottomed chairs on the flat meant the stage had to be built high. The acoustics were atrocious. But the School Play was a big event. Each boy was expected to attend, with his parents if possible, guaranteeing full houses over the week's performances.

"Friar Bacon & Friar Bungay", a slightly creaking comedy, is now most noted for having anticipated television. One of Friar Bacon's tricks (his namesake Roger invented spectacles) was a screen whereby the Prince spies on his sweetheart Margaret being betrothed to his best friend and her beloved the Earl of Lacy. I played the heroine, my first major part in a public production. I did not much take to being en travestie for the first of very few times, with rolled-up socks as boobs. But I enjoyed the novelty of long rehearsals because they brought me close to the 6th Former Brian Oatley, whom I adored. Michael Shipley (Lacy) is current President of Bolton Little Theatre and prime mover in the Little Theatre Guild. Geoffrey Tetlow, after Oxford University Dramatic Society, turned professional, acting for the Bolton Hippodrome theatre company. He ended up writing for "TV Times" and died in London c. 1997. — Ian McKellen, December 2006
Comments and Reviews
"The romantic theme was sustained by excellent acting from the two principals, I. M. McKellen and B. Oatley. McKellen, as Margaret, was a quiet, serious, and impressive heroine." — The Boltonian