Obituary: Diana Zwar

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The Independent Online
Diana Helen Mary Plunkett, theatrical technician and manager, born London 10 April 1918, theatre manager Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, 1947-55, married 1955 Charles Zwar (died 1989; one daughter), died Oxford 2 September 1992.

DIANA ZWAR was theatre manager of the Lyric, Hammersmith, from 1947 to 1955 and a director of Stagesound Ltd, providing sound systems and special effects for theatres and broadcasting.

Her father was Lt-Col (later General) EA Plunkett, who served as a military attache in the Balkans during and after the First World War. The family joined him after the war, and photographs of the infant Diana with her nurse portray them against the backdrops of the embassies of Belgrade and the onion-domed churches of Sofia.

General Plunkett returned from the Balkans safe and sound only to be felled by a tram in Piccadilly. Diana underwent the conventional unremarkable education deemed to be proper for the daughters of the military, and her family were to watch her future career with some consternation. She was an avid theatre-goer, and during the Second World War, while serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in Salisbury, she crossed from audience to production in helping run the garrison theatre. In 1947, on the strength of her work, Tennent Productions appointed her - a comparative outsider and only 29 - theatre manager of the Lyric, Hammersmith, in west London, in succession to Lovat Fraser.

In the Forties and early Fifties the old Lyric Theatre was enjoying its heyday, before the building's increasing dilapidation spelt its eventual demise. A series of productions, both in the Lyric itself and on tour, enjoyed the participation of actors ranging from John Gielgud, Paul Scofield and Richard Burton to Kenneth Williams and Dora Bryan.

As well as working full-time at the theatre, Plunkett joined Bill Walton, the chief electrician at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in founding Stagesound Ltd, a company which provided sound equipment for theatres. Among the artists who worked at the Lyric was Charles Zwar, the Australian musician and composer of intimate revue, who contributed to The Lyric Revue and At The Lyric in the early Fifties. He was musical director of Sandy Wilson's musical The Buccaneer when he and Diana Plunkett were married in 1955.

At about this time Tennents gave up the Lyric and, as the Zwars' daughter grew up, Diana was able to work as a full-time director at Stagesound. The company was then branching out, providing speech-recording studios, film-dubbing theatres and tape- copying services for both theatre and broadcasting. In the early Seventies Stagesound was taken over by Theatre Projects Ltd and Diana Zwar remained with the company until 1976. By this time, Charles was in poor health, so she combined her care for him with administration work for the London Regional Examination Board.

Diana Zwar combined an astute efficiency and intelligence with elegance and gentleness. What she achieved was not by education or connections as by native ability and hard work. At the same time she took delight in her friends and family, especially, in her last years, in her grandchildren.

(Photograph omitted)