Original Bristol Old Vic poster

  Ian Richardson in Trelawny

Bristol and London, 1972

The show chosen to reopen the Bristol Old Vic after refurbishment in 1972.  It proved a great success, and transferred to London, first to Sadler's Wells and later to The Savoy.  The splendid cast was largely intact on transferring to London, except for Timothy West, who was replaced by Max Adrian.

Trelawny is based upon Arthur Wing Pinero's play, Trelawny of the Wells.  The 'Wells' of the title being Sadler's Wells, there was a particularly emotional homecoming when the show arrived there.

With a book by Aubrey Woods and music by Julian Slade, Trelawny has charm and warmth and humour.  The story portrays the conflict between the old style theatre and the (then) new.  Ian plays the hero, Tom Wrench, a small part player who wants to write about "real people".  He has a delightfull song lamenting his lack of scope in the company, in which he explains that as a "Walking Gentleman" he will be forever "walking on", whilst Rose Trelawny will go on to be a star. 

Tom is in love with Rose, but she loves a young aristocrat. There is conflict in the play between the old and new forms of theatre, and also between the father of Rose's lover and the people of the theatre, whom he despises as gipsies.  He is finally won over by being reminded of Kean, whom he saw in his youth and recognized as a great actor.

The play ends with the company preparing to put on Tom's play. The scene at the end when Tom bravely accepts that Rose can never be his, and tells the company to get on with the rehearsal of his play, pulled heartstrings in the theatre, and comes over powerfully on the record.

  Ian Richardson in My Fair Lady

New York

To my great regret, I cannot review this, because it coincided with a particularly penurous period of my life.  If I had known how long it would be before I could see Ian on stage again, I would have got there if I had to swim the Atlantic.  Ian received rave notices for his performance as Professor Higgins.

Shirley Jacobs