The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew (1973)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Robert Bolt

Produced by Victor S. Shaw

Performances: (Dates not in archive book) December 1973, Theatre


Text about the play




"Big bad Baron's Back"

South London Theatre Centre's offering in this festive month is a play which has already established itself, in a mere eight years of existence, as almost a seasonal classic.

In "The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew" Robert Bolt, whose qualities of writing and compassion need no urging, has written a rattling good yarn for the young in heart of all ages.

It is a tale of knight-errantry triumphant in an island jointly administered by the wicked Baron Bolligrew and a dragon. The former keeps his half of the island for grinding the faces of the poor and needy, leaving the other half for ravaging.

Matters come to a head when the upright knight Sir Oblong Fitz Oblong arrives, and Baron Bolligrew calls in the services of a mad magician from Oxford.

Victor Shaw's blandly genial production needs plenty of audience participation, especially from the younger generation, and blossoms in proportion as it gets it. Dennis Packham, preserving the mein of some minor clerk on a parish council when confronted by the ways of human wickedness, plays the innocent knight who wrecks the Baron's foul schemes.

It would be hard to imagine anyone at the SLTC playing Baron Bolligrew except the man who does play it, Charles Cheetham. A crumpled-looking sporty gentleman, he waddles on in the company of his thick henchman Squire Blackheart (Tony Dunstan), blasting off with his blunderbuss at any stray flying object that catches his eye.

Don't hesitate to hiss him good and hard; he thrives on it.

Christine Wilson gives a warm and endearing performance as Maggie Magpie and Malcolm Saunders is a suitably mysterious Dr Molock, though a rather more fantastical touch would not come amiss from this most bizarre of magicians.

The unseen John Davies gives the dragon a compelling voice, relishing that singularly well educated creature's droll turn of phrase. The whole production achieves its effects with the utmost simplicity.

Highlights include the sea crossings, the game of musical bumps played by the Duke (Brian Collins and his knightly court) and the racy court scenes presided over by Baron, Squire and Knight.

Donald Madgwick, The Croydon Advertiser.


Reminiscences and Anecdotes

In one of his many stories Malcolm Saunders said that John Davis (voicing the dragon from the flyloft) dropped his script onto the stage one night, making him possibly the only person ever in our theatre who had to take a prompt when reading the part from a script.

Brian Fretwell

See Also



External Links