Dramas that turned into farces

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The Independent Online
Peter O'Toole's `Macbeth', Old Vic, 1980

The critics crucified his ``Victorian ham performance in a ketchup-drenched near-pantomime version'' - but the Old Vic took record bookings. "Macbeth is a very funny play," O'Toole said later.

`Fields of Ambrosia', Aldwych, 1996

A musical about capital punishment in the electric chair. It included a singing executioner and the immortal rhyming of Ambrosia with "Everyone knows yer". It closed after a week, with the producers offering audiences their money back at the interval.

Nicol Williamson one-man show, Criterion, 1994

Regarded by some critics as "the lost great hope of the English stage", he walked off after only six minutes on the second night of his return to the West End playing the Hollywood actor John Barrymore. Apparently in character, Williamson, 55, made some comment to the audience about a spotlight missing him.

Most seemed to think it was part of the play. Then he turned to the audience and said: "I don't want to do this any more. I'm sorry this has cost you money." With that he left the stage.

Lionel Bart's `Twang'

This Sixties musical about Robin Hood had a chorus of wiggling lovelies in wimples singing "too late the spring has sprang, my final fling has flang, yes, I'm the twing who twang.'' Enough said.

`Life with an Idiot', English National Opera

On the first night of the production of Alfred Schnittke's piece the essential prop - a bath containing the hero - remained suspended in mid- air.

Beneath him the audience was treated to the rare sight of a stagehand shouting frantically as she tried to correct the error.