Written by Peter Ustinov

Directed by Denis Carey

Ian McKellen in the role of John Bogle

Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham

8 January 1964


Words from Ian McKellen

An anti-capital punishment treatise by Peter Ustinov, who came to rehearsals, altering speeches and making suggestions. I hadn't realised that a playscript could not necessarily be finished until fully rehearsed and performed. He loved (as we did) to crowd a few devotees into a dressing-room and re-tell some of his more celebrated stories.

I shared a dressing-room with the young Michael Crawford "who was Algernon in "Importance of Being Earnest" in repertoire with Coriolanus. Guthrie had spied his potential as an adept athlete when Michael, as Aufidius's servant, tripped during rehearsal without once losing the tray of food he was carrying across the stage. Michael was apologetic but Guthrie was delighted. "See if u can do that again "only funnier this time!" Thus started Crawford's career as gymnast, contortionist and juggler (cf Barnum etc). In our room he sang along with 45rpm discs of Beatles non-stop .

Comments and Reviews

World premiere.


Banner photo: Yvonne Coulette, Ian McKellen, Leo McKern.

Leo McKern was another Beatles fan and sang She Loves You yeah, yeah, yeah each night on his way to the stage. The following year he co-starred in their second film HELP!, playing the evil leader of a murderous cult. Eleanor Bron and Roy Kinnear also appeared in the Beatles film.


Full Cast List