Curtain Up!

Sunday 7th September, Minerva Theatre, Chichester


Review by Jill Parry

© Jill Parry, October 2003





“An unpretentious and light-hearted look at life backstage from curtain up to curtain down”


Sunday 7th September 2003 - Minerva Auditorium, Chichester Festival Theatre


Devised by Desmond Barrit


Company: Desmond Barrit, Alicia Davies, Louise Gold and Philip Quast

With Daniel Jackson on the piano


A special benefit performance where all proceeds from the event went towards upgrading the Seinheiser Audio System at the Chichester Festival Theatre.






OVERTURE – “It’s Showbiz” Medley played by Daniel Jackson

Comedy Tonight – Stephen Sondheim (The Company)

This is a Theatre – A.P Herbert

Theatre – Nicholas Smith

On the Building of the Festival Theatre – Doris May Alford

At the Theatre – Rachael Field



The Audience at the Royal Court – P.G Wodehouse

Chocolates – Guy Boas

The Boy I Love is Up in the Gallery – George Ware (sung by Alicia Davies)

To the Lady Behind me at the Theatre – Punch 1948

The Queue – Guy Boas

The Audience – Guy Boas

Charge of the Late Brigade – Herbert Farjeon



Actors – Anon

The Repertory Actor – Guy Boas

The Boy Actor – Noel Cowards

Her Voice – Oliver Herford

Epitaph for an Actor in the TV Age – Nicholas Smith

Mrs Worthington – Noel Coward (sung by Desmond Barrit)

Walk Ons – Julie Lumsden

Deep Throat – Jo Anderson

My Mother Doesn’t Know I’m on the Stage – Billy Bennett

American Student Actors – Stephen Surry







Stools – Martin Charnin

Giving Notes – Victoria Wood

Funny Without Being Vulgar – Harry Brett

The Prompter – Albert Chevalier



The Critic – Guy Boas



Anecdotage – Derek Nimmo

I Was Here – Flaherty & Ahrens (sung by Philip Quast)

I’m in the RSC – Jack Klaff

Quoting Shakespeare – Bernard Levin

When I read Shakespeare – D.H. Lawrence

Essentials to Shakespeare – Elizabeth Jennings

They All Want to Play Hamlet – Carl Sandbirg

The Death of Romeo and Juliet – Anon

Hamlet – Stanley J Sharpless



Touring Days – Noel Coward

A Touch of the Memoirs – Donald Sinden

Train Call – Donald Wolfit

Superstitions – Jonathan Field

I Should have been Knighted – Diana Whelan

Broadway Baby (sung by Louise Gold)



Our Revels Now Have Ended – Shakespeare

Exit – Nonie W S Christian

The Play is Done – W M Thackeray

Epilogue to ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ – Shakespeare








The evening was an informal soiree around a piano in the delightfully intimate Minerva Theatre in Chichester, perfect for this type of revue. 4 performers, 4 stools and a piano. Simple.

The four cast members, Desmond Barrit, Louise Gold, Alicia Davies and Philip Quast all bounded on stage beautifully dressed in evening wear, the men with their fly collars, bow ties and very shiney shoes and the two ladies, Alicia Davies resplendent in what appeared to be a sprayed on red silk dress and Louise Gold in the perhaps more elegant simple black attire. They launched into Comedy Tonight with such gusto and fun that it was obvious then that it would be a very special evening. They settled down onto their high stools and the evening began with the most delightful, unusual, funny and often touching mix of monologues and poetry related to all aspects of theatre life. The audience was clearly full with other actors, family and friends so there was quite a lot of audience involvement and feed back!

Highlights were many. All the cast had their chance to sing and beautifully they all did too. Des Barrit was terrific in his pleas to Mrs Worthington to ‘not put her daughter on the stage’! The comedic timing of this superb classical actor was perfection. Philip Quast stepped in to the spotlight to sing the impassioned song ‘I Was Here’ a song he sang at the Donmar Theatre Diva season last year. Beautifully interpreted as only Philip can and greatly appreciated by his many fans in the audience. Louise Gold sang the heartbreaking ‘Broadway Baby’ with such emotion and finesse she brought the house down. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sang better.

The lighter moments were many, Philip Quast did a wonderful piece called American Student Actors where he did his relaxing exercises, warm up exercises, method exercises and at one point got down on the floor to do some very impressive press-ups.

Louise Gold added elegance and humour to the evening. Her portrayal of the Director of a touring production of Hamlet in ‘Giving Notes’ was worth the price of the ticket alone. Written by the brilliant Victoria Wood, Louise used various members of the audience and Philip Quast as her not so able cast members to bully, cajole and supposedly encourage.  Pure Magic! She also performed a hysterically funny poem called ‘Chocolate’ (no guesses as to what that’s about!) and a very raunchy piece called ’Deep Throat’ (No guesses needed for this one either! I must try to get hold of the words…)

All in all I can honestly say it was one of the most entertaining evening I’ve ever spent in a theatre, truly magical. Thank you to all involved.


Jill Parry

©  Jill Parry, October 2003





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