written by

Bill Naughton

directed by

Val Foskett

performed at

The Colour House Theatre

Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th and Saturday 7th August 2004

Alfie Poster

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Programme Notes

from the Director

What was it all about?

The play was originally written for radio and called Alfie Elkins and his little life - Alfie was played by Bill Owen, later of Last of the Summer Wine. Then it was a stage hit with John Neville in the title role. Terence Stamp took over the part when it went to America, but it wasn't a hit, so he turned down the film role and his flat mate Michael Caine got it instead - the rest is film history!

The film is very much of its time - in 1963 the Beatles were top of the charts (Paul McCartney was dating Jane Asher, who played Annie), satire was on the telly (Millicent Martin, who played Siddie, was in That Was The Week That Was), Harold Pinter was in the cutting edge of British Drama (his wife Vivian Merchant, played Lily in the film).

A certain amount of 'swinging' was done, but in this pre-feminist era the double standard was still in evidence. Although James Bond was getting around a bit, his liaisons never had consequences. Alfie, in comparison, was considered quite daring in its realistic treatment of pre- and extra-marital sex, and several actors turned it down because they feared to link their names with a film featuring an abortion.

So if you can't remember back that far, reflect that the world as featured in Alfie is less than 50 years away, although the changes in attitudes and society sometimes make it seem as far from us today as the Victorians.

What is it all about now?

Why revive this piece if Alfie, the chauvinist par excellence, is such a dinosaur?

Two questions:

Why are there so many self-help books dedicated to helping women to raise their self-esteem and avoid abusive relationships?

Why was it necessary recently to invent the phrase "toxic bachelor" to describe commitment-phobes and unsupportive fathers?

Logic would suggest that Alfies are still with us, although not as frank and outspoken as the original, but wearing the disguise of the New Man...

And how would the ladies fare now? Gilda would raise no eyebrows, when most couples cohabit before or instead of marriage. Indeed for many women single motherhood is a choice. And she could rely on the Child Support Agency to chase Alfie for the cash!

If Lily had any doubts, the morning after pill would sort them out. Failing that, now that abortion is legal, her GP could sort out her problem. With 3 children and a sick husband, she would get every assistance. "Mr Smith" is long out of business. But In a post-AIDS situation, maybe even Alfie would be more likely to use a condom, so she may never have got pregnant in the first place.

Annies are still hitching from the North to find work and a home in London. In 1963, jobs and flats could be had. Now, unfortunately it is more likely that Annie would end up as a rough sleeper.

Siddie and Ruby? They are the most modern of the ladies, going for what they want in a very nineties/noughties way. They would fit in perfectly today - in fact they may be here in the audience tonight!

Val Foskett, August 2004

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in no particular order

Alfie ~ Dave O'Sullivan
Siddie ~ Annette Piper
Gilda ~ Ruth Brooks
Humphrey ~ Andrew Candish
Woman Doctor ~ Belinda Thomas
Harry Clamacraft ~ Rory Mernagh
Joe ~ James Grayston
Lily Clamacraft ~ Kate Mitchell
Carla ~ Cecile Dippnall
Lacey ~ Gavin Gibbons
Flo / Vy ~ Kate Rogers
Annie ~ Libby Preston
Lofty ~ Jethro Crabb
Ruby ~ Carol-Anne Hodgson
Mr Smith ~ Mike Norman-Smith

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in no particular order

Director ~ Val Foskett
Producer ~ Kathie Arundell
Stage Manager ~ Sarah Hewitt
Assistant Stage Manager ~ Ruth Brooks
Sound & Lighting ~ Simon Harris
Programme & Poster Design ~ Simon Harris
Matthew Petty
Front of House ~ Kathie Arundell
Dave O'Sullivan
Jeff Graves
Cindy Graves
Jane Lewis
her friend Barbara
Jane Richards
Richard Broughton
Alison Raffan
Web page ~ Matthew Petty

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of the rehearsals

Photo -

Dave and Ruth

Photo -

Andrew and Ruth

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