THE DIARY: First nights, send-ups and chocolate lobsters

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Sunday, 1 August. This is going to be an odd week. Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell with Peter O'Toole is up and previewing at the Old Vic. Meanwhile A Saint She Ain't, the hilarious Dick Vosburgh/Denis King musical which I directed at The King's Head is coming to the Apollo.

A reading day. We are collecting women producers for A Saint... to support Patricia MacNaughton, who championed the play alone for nearly a decade. We have added some Americans - the Monstrous Regiment. One, Liz McAnn, has sent me two copies of Richard Wilbur's 1993 translation of Moliere's Imaginary Cuckold (on which Vosburgh based his book), translating it into pastiche of Forties' Hollywood musicals. I must send one to Nicholas de Jongh who questioned its existence in London's Evening Standard. Vosburgh has been extraordinarily faithful to Moliere's plot while repeopling it with WC Fields, Mae West, Jimmy Durante, Gene Kelly, Abbot and Costello, Rita Hayworth and Ethel Merman. My favourite of Dick's lines, not Moliere's, is: "I haven't been so happy since Reader's Digest lost my address."

MONDAY. Hunting presents for cast and crew of J B Is Unwell. Mainly books. Sandoe's find me C B Fry for O'Toole, a cricket nut. Funny chocolate lobsters from Rococo in the King's Road for the crew. Meet Waterhouse at Livebait before the penultimate preview. We share a bottle of champagne and a pint of prawns. Cast and audience sparkling. Damn! O'Toole has Fry in his dressing room. It is his birthday. With the four other cast members we give him dinner at La Barca. Much hilarity, and Keith provides on demand a rewrite for an awkward transition.

TUESDAY. To the Donmar Warehouse. We are giving a presentation of A Saint... for "Trade and Booker" people. Barry Cryer reprises his infallible W C Fields ("More congenial than the original" - S Tel) and the plumptious Pauline Daniels her Mae West ("More innuendo than the whole of the 1940s" - FT). Her elegant partner, Gavin Lee, the best British song and dance man since Jack Buchanan, is busy rehearsing Of Thee I Sing at the Bridewell. Michael Roberts, (a brilliant Lou Costello ) stands in. Vince Marcello - his Bud Abbot - also unavailable, so Michael also plays both parts in a version of their double act! It goes well. Composer King, a spirited accompanist. Vosburgh explains how pleased the cast are to be moving to the Apollo after the King's Head, "as will be the audiences since at the Apollo the seats actually face the stage". He improvises another quote, "I love the King's Head - Osteopath's Weekly".

To the Albery for Forbidden Broadway - missed in Jermyn Street. The Sondheim parody `Into The Words' the best but Sondheim would have done it better. Silly O'Toole sketch, bemusingly unfunny.

WEDNESDAY. First night. Ruthless haircut by senior barber Jack Lee in Shepherd Market. Sandoe has sold out of A Social History Of Cricket, try Heywood Hill - their last one went yesterday. Hatchard's had seven. Now they have six. A long shot comes in. Two volumes of R C Robertson Glasgow's Cricket Prints, have arrived from J W McKenzie. Deliver the presents to the Vic and arrange a rendezvous table at Livebait for my guests, Rick, composer Glen Roven and Radio 4 comedian Nick Romero. I won't go on about the performance. It's been hard to avoid the raves in the papers even if one wanted to. Suffice to say no young actor can afford to miss O'Toole's majestic display of heart, truth, pyrotechnic technique and crystal diction. To Joe Allen after the enjoyable party crush in the Circle Bar.

THURSDAY. A good notice in the Mail. Laurence Myers (one of our producers) rings to say Indie, Guardian, D Tel and Express all excellent. Buy them on way to audition Mermans and understudies for A Saint... To Cardiff New Theatre with Nick Romero to do my "theatrical anecdotes". Nick is an irrepressible companion and an excellent driver. He makes these sorties into the countryside a joy. A lovely Cardiff audience very quick on the uptake.

FRIDAY. Working on the links for tomorrow's Loose Ends. I phone Rob Colley to sample his monologue. One joke particularly appeals. "There is a new EU directive that fathers are to have 13 weeks' paternity leave for each child they have. This is terrible news for Mick Jagger. It means he may never work again."

`JEFFREY BERNARD' REVIEW - CULTURE, PAGE 6

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