Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
The Guildhall,
March 1982
Director: Pam Hoskins
Cast List
Colonel Calverley
Major Murgatroyd
Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable
Reginald Bunthorne
Archibald Grosvenor
Lady Angela
Lady Saphir
Lady Ella
Lady Jane

Notes on this performance

57. Patience

Making Oscar wild…

The Treasurer, Denis Gooch, was a man on a mission. After the large loss in the last production at the Guildhall, he was determined that the, often poor selling, Patience would fare better and was looking for economies to be made in all areas – even insisting that, where possible, principal rehearsals should be held in the homes of members. The prospect of three costumes for the ladies (one ‘home made’) and two for the men did not impress him but he was cheered by the new covenanting scheme which enabled the Society to claim back tax on members’ subscriptions.

When the G&S operas were free of copyright restrictions, the Committee considered that Patience would be the most suitable for ‘updating’ but then decided against it – if they had had Pam Hoskins as Producer they might have had second thoughts. In this production, the Dragoon Guards became punk rockers in their attempt to impress the ladies – light years away from the usual Oscar Wilde-like aesthetes. In addition to that, the guards paraded in uniform around the precinct accompanied by two white horses ridden by members of an equestrian centre (again in uniform) and the ladies roamed through Debenhams in their costumes. The Theatre Guild representative was quite taken by the innovations included in the show and wrote. ‘In all, a most enjoyable and, at times, inspiring production, beautifully cast, beautifully staged, beautifully directed and beautifully presented.’ There was a new, energetic MD for this show as well: Philip Johnson had been recruited and took charge of the music for the first of his sixteen SOS shows. Molly Gibson returned as Stage Manager.

This time the Echo reviewer did attend and he seems to have enjoyed the experience,  ‘A silhouetted dancer is one of several innovations by producer Pamela Hoskins. The dancer (Biddi Allen) performs during the overture and a chorus of punk-rockers with appropriate gear and hair-styles gives a topical twist in the action in Act II.

As Reginald Bunthorne, Philip de Grouchy carries off this humorous role with deft smoothness and Avril Botto (Patience) makes a thoroughly appealing young milkmaid. The part of Archibald Grosvenor is played with superb affectation by Colin Sly while Catherine Baker makes a mature Lady Jane. Colourful costumes enhance the many choruses for the love-sick maidens and especially those of the Dragoon Guards whose forthright singing is one of the major delights of the show.’

The Guild’s review elaborated on the chorus of punk-rockers, ‘The marvellously inventive show-stopping, appearance of the aesthetic bovver-boys in Act II was more than a touch of genius, cutting right across the plethora of sweet-sighs and rapture, and providing, apart from its own hilarity, a piece of unforgettable theatre. The additional lyrics from the trio of officers was great fun – and most apt!’ It also enthused about, ‘the breath-taking entrance of the guards with their professional-seeming drummers and intricate marching and counter-marching routines,’

Unfortunately, Dennis Gooch had good reason to be worried by Patience because, as he feared, the production did not sell well and made a loss of  £1345.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Principals

 Front: Susan Rhodes (Lady Angela), Colin Sly (Archibald Grosvenor). Between Pillars: Philip de Grouchy (Reginald Bunthorne), Avril Botto (Patience)

Photo of Soldiers

Nicholas Short (Major Murgatroyd), David Danson (Colonel Calverley), David Lewis (Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable)