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A Penny for a Song 1965

Banbury Cross Players presented A Penny for a Song at the College Theatre, Broughton Road in April 1965. It was Directed and Designed by Martin Blinkhorn.

The Cast was as follows:-

Sir Timothy Bellboys – John Neal
Hallam Matthews – Bryan Ferriman
Edward Steme – John Bennett
A Small Boy – Michael Turner
Lamprett Bellboys – John Barker
Dorcas Bellboys – Jane Stanford
George Selincourt – Dick Llewellyn
William Humpage – Pat Butler
Samuel Breeze – Derek Hills
Joseph Brotherhood – Ronald Harper
James Giddy – Derek Jones
Rufus Piggott – Spencer Lester
Hester Bellboys – Heather Macnair
A Maidservant (Pippin) – Margaret Moon

Director’s Note

THE YEAR IS 1804. There are many in England who believe that Napoleon Bonaparte will, at any time, invade across the Channel. However, not all of these people are preparing to meet “The Beast of the Apocalypse” with such devilish cunning as Sir Timothy Bellboys. His brother, Lamprett, is rather more interested in fighting fires and has no time for his brother’s high-flown plans.

Into this summer sunshine comes Hallam Matthews, a dilettante from London, somewhat more at home in his favourite club (Boodles) reading a little of the disturbing Mr. William Wordsworth than he is in the rustic charm of Dorset. He openly admits that his indigestion is as important to him as Bonaparte; more so, in fact, because Napoleon has not yet put in an appearance. He is a mellowed sophisticate so it is not surprising that he cannot agree with Edward Steme who this very day will walk through the garden gate in search of a bite of food. Steme is a radical (we might today call him a Socialist) and has had recent bitter experience of fighting as a mercenary on the Continent. It is little wonder that he sounds a little bitter when he comes across a family like the Bellboys’s who have never heard of Social Inequality.

All things can tempt me from this craft of verse:
One time it was a woman's face, or worse
The seeming needs of my fool-driven land;
Now nothing comes but readier to the hand
Than this accustomed toil. When I was young,
I had not given a penny for a song
Did not the poet sing it with such airs
That one believed he had a sword upstairs;
Yet would be now, could I but have my wish.
Colder and dumber and deafer than a fish.


The playwright, John Whiting, died aged 47 in June 1963.
The tragedy is that we shall never see other plays of his
that are as enjoyable as A Penny for a Song.

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