Bell, Book and Candle (1974)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by John van Druten

Produced by Mike Mattey

Performances: Tue 3rd – Sat 7th September 1974, Theatre


The action takes place in Gillian's London flat.

Act 1: Scene 1 - 6.30pm Christmas Eve. Scene 2 - 3 hours later.

Act 2: Late afternoon, 2 weeks later.

Act 3: Scene 1 - Later that evening. Scene 2 - Late afternoon, 2 months later.




"Witch way to S.L.T.C."

Hardly have the echoes of SLTC's last season (we used to run seasons from September to July with August "Dark") died away, with the bar in a transitional state and witchcraft in the theatre itself, the new one has begun.

As a tool of comedy, witchcraft has rather been run into the ground by a long-running TV series, but John van Druten's "Bell Book and Candle" still retains some of its sprightly charm. And charm is just what Mike Mattey's production can fairly boast, though it is somewhat short on magic.

I am not talking about stage magic, which is, basically, what makes a performance "come off" and is slippery to define; but rather magic on the stage, or the faculty of convincing the audience of the possession of supernatural powers, Hazel Edwards, as Gillian Holroyd, here attracts John Anderson as Anthony Henderson, by her own vivacity allied to a little knowing archness.

These are weapons of real life, and very agreable ones too; though regarded as a witch, she is not really a starter.

Her performance lacks a daring and etherial quality, and I have much the same impression about Geoffrey Keep as her warlock brother Nicholas, whose somewhat fantastical appearance is not quite enough to give his role the conviction it needs. A puckish energy is needed for this character, who is more the merry prankster Till Eulenspiegel than a Nick to be truly feared. However, I enjoyed their repartee and smiled at their innocent plotting.

Lilain Frith as Gillian's aunt is top of the poll in the magic department, giving her witchery the innocence of a delighted child playing with a new toy she is anxious not to lose.

Arthur Skinner plays the author Sidney Redlitch with gusto, like a character out of J. B. Priestley, a seedy boozer with clotted northern vowels.

Donald Madgwick, in The Croydon Advertiser.


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See Also

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