The Production We Didn’t See – Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton, Duke of York Theatre, Possibly 7 July 1975

Michael Lempriere had arranged for our drama class to go and see Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton. It would have been the mid 1970s Royal Court revival production (probably the West End transfer thereof), with Beryl Reid as Kath, Malcolm McDowell as Sloane, James Ottaway as Kemp and Ronald Fraser as Eddie.

Here is a link to some good resources and reviews of that production.  Good reviews from that source, naturally.  It seems that the Spectator hated it though; a harsh paragraph at the end of a lot of stuff about other productions here.

Anyway, when my mum got wind of it that we were going to see THAT play, she went into high horse mode, for reasons I cannot quite work out. I think she just felt that we were far too young for…whatever it was…not that she really knew anything about it, other than the fact that she probably mentioned it to a friend and that friend looked horrified at the thought. perhaps a sample of two priggish friends.

Mum was probably in a grumpy mood generally at that time – she was in and out of hospital for the first half of that year, culminating in a hip replacement in May. Anyway, she decided not merely to ground me from this one – I might have got away with just minor embarrassment for that. She got on to the school and got the outing cancelled. How un-hip was that?

Several of my drama pals were mightily unimpressed with this, as was I. We were all very disappointed as much as anything else. Michael Lempriere handled the matter with great dignity I’m sure, but that couldn’t prevent the ribbing. In particular, I recall Bob Kelly giving me a hard time; not least suggesting my mother’s physical as well as behavioural similarities with Mary Whitehouse. As my mother had chosen to go down the cruel spectacles line during the mid 1970s (illustrated with a 1977 picture below) this was a difficult charge to deny.

Mum 1977

I’m not entirely sure when the theatre trip that never was should have happened. My diary is silent on the whole matter.  I am guessing it was supposed to be an after exams jolly at the end of my second year, but it might just have been a start of the next academic year jolly for our drama group. If the latter, we didn’t miss out on Ottaway and McDowell, we missed out on  Harry H. Corbett as Ed and Kenneth Cranham as Sloane.

I did eventually get to see a production of this play, but not until January 2001 at the Arts Theatre. My moral compass was not adversely affected by witnessing the play, as far as I can tell, nor was Daisy’s, although we were to be seen sunning ourselves in South-East Asia only a few weeks later…


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