Enter wrestler. Exit top troupe

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The Independent Online
IT IS A drama to match any seen on the Prince of Orange's pub stage: the former world champion heavyweight wrestler turned pub landlord in a showdown with actors famed for their interpretations of rarely seen 18th-century European classics.

It may sound like farce, but the result for playgoers is closer to tragedy; one of Britain's best fringe theatres has closed after two years. The Greenwich Studio Theatre, a stone's throw from the Cutty Sark, is moving out after the husband-and-wife team behind it, Julian and Margarete Forsyth, claimed that "irreconcilable differences" with the pub landlord, Bill Bridges, left them no choice but to walk out, taking their props, lights and even the chairs with them.

Ever since the Forsyths took over the theatre, which rents a couple of upstairs rooms at the Prince of Orange, their quirky and accomplished productions have won critical acclaim. Last year they won a Time Out fringe theatre award for their season, Plays of the Enlightenment, featuring the work of little-known European masters such as Lessing and Holberg. Now they are walking out, despite having spent pounds 6,000 on upgrading the premises.

The Forsyths claim that, despite the critical and financial success of their shows, and the increased business brought to the pub, relations with some of the staff have been difficult, with one barman calling German- born Margarete a "Kraut".

When a local firm gave the company sponsorship, Margarete sought to put the company's relationship with the landlord on to a more formal basis. But instead, the Forsyths claim, the landlord just wanted them out.

A spokeswoman for the brewery, Bass Charrington, said: "The company was leaving props around and creating a fire risk. If it comes down to a fire risk, we have to back the publican."