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Sunday, 13 January 2013 15:00

Making Dickie Happy shows in West End

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The brittle, brilliant world of England's literary and social elite is ingeniously depicted in this breezy, quick-witted re-staging which concerns a young Noel Coward and his boyfriend Tono, a young Lord Louis "Dickie" Mountbatten and Agatha Christie.

First staged in 2004 at North London's Rosemary Branch Theatre, it now descends on the West End, rather aptly just a stone's throw from Christie's The Mousetrap at St Martin's Theatre.

Writer Jeremy Kingston imagines what would have happened had the three, who in reality all holidayed at a hotel on Burgh Island off the Devon coast at various times, been brought together over one weekend. The weekend is, of course, fictitious, the people real. The trio find themselves at the hotel together. The First World War has ended but remains a vital memory. Three of the characters have been in the Navy (and two of them still are); a fourth fought in the trenches; and even Noel Coward served in the Army, though not for very long. The tale is a fascinating look at relationships, marriages, engagements, promises, hellos and goodbyes.

Agatha Christie is a little older than the men, married and the mother of a small daughter. At this early stage in her career she has written a couple of Hercule Poirot novels, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Murder on the Links, and a volume of Poirot stories, Poirot Investigates, first serialised in the newspaper The Sketch.

'Dickie' Mountbatten is on the fringe of numerous royal families but only on the fringe. His carefully nurtured friendship with the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII), has already helped his social profile, and he has recently accompanied the Prince on a successful tour of India.

Noel Coward was 19 when his first play, I'll Leave it to You, was produced in the West End, followed by a second, The Young Idea, and a revue, London Calling! (1923). Through these, he became a minor celebrity but real success lay ahead.

Robert Gillespie is mainly associated with new writing as a director.  He contributed to seventeen productions at the King's Head Theatre, most of them world premieres and directed the production of Making Dickie Happy at the Rosemary Branch Theatre (2004). He also directed a biting re-write of the Oedipus story, Oedipus at the Crossroads (2003) by Jeremy Kingston and Sex, Death and a Baked Swan (2005), a play about female gladiators by Debbie Cook, both of which saw first light at the Rosemary Branch Theatre. He has contributed shows to six Dublin Theatre Festivals and worked in Israel on, amongst other plays, Frayn's Noises Off (1980) at the Cameri Theatre, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Robert is probably best known as a TV sit-com actor, and starred as Dudley Rush, a part written for him by Brian Cooke, in five series of Keep it in the Family for Thames Television. He's also been in everything from Likely Lads to Dad's Army, Rising Damp and Porridge and he appeared as Gilbert Herring in Bonjour La Classe.  Recently, he featured in Cardboard Citizens' striking production of their WWII epic - Mincemeat.

As a writer Robert contributed to TV's That Was The Week That Was; especially A Consumer's Guide To Religion (performed by David Frost) which provoked fulminating clergyman and questions in the House.   Latterly, he has performed in his own two-hander My Heart (about death and gods) and directed Love, Question Mark, his piece about the myth of monogamy.

Jeremy Kingston was born in London and brought up in various Home Counties before returning to London where he worked as a credit clerk, a sculpture model at the Royal Academy, a barristers' junior clerk, secretary to John Lehmann on the London Magazine, and had his first play No Concern of Mine, with Alan Dobie and John Fraser in the leads, produced at the Westminster Theatre. Signs of the Times, starring Kenneth More and Liza Goddard, was produced at the Vaudeville. Robert Gillespie directed his Oedipus at the Crossroads at the King's Head, and directed the first production of Making Dickie Happy at the Rosemary Branch. Jeremy has written scripts for Desmond Morris on Granada TV, a novel, two children's books and in 2008 his first collection of poems, On the Lookout (Hearing Eye). He was the theatre critic on Punch for ten years and since 1985 has been one of the theatre critics on The Times.


  • Tristan Bates Theatre, 1a Tower Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9NP
  • 5 to 30 March 2013 at 7.30pm (Tue to Sat) and mats at 3.30pm (Sun)
  • 020 7240 6283 
  • www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
  • £14 (£10 concs)

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