BENEFACTORS by Michael Frayn


Reading:  Tuesday 7 June;  Auditions Thursday 9 June – both at 7.30 pm

 Performance Dates: Saturday, 17, Monday 19 to Saturday 24 September in the Liz Stafford Auditorium


"In Benefactors, Frayn has caught the high hopes and the long hangover of that decade of protest and reform."


Michael Frayn is well known for the farce Noises Off.  Benefactorsis not a farce but is full of Frayn's wit and humanity. It's about good intentions going awry, about relationships and architecture. 


It's 1968.  David, an ambitious architect, has just landed a huge project to design and rebuild an area of London being demolished under a "slum clearance" scheme.  His supportive wife, Jane, has private doubts about it and David's ability to cope. Over the road live Colin and Sheila. Colin, public school educated, knows David from university.  He's sceptical, not to say cynical.  Sheila just wants to please everyone, especially Colin, but keeps failing.


This interesting, witty play uses an unusual structure.  It starts in the "Now" which is about 1980;  then the action goes back to 1968 and works forward to 1980.  The Now is evoked throughout the play by the characters looking back over the intervening 12 years in the form of monologues.  Confused?  Don't worry, it will all be made perfectly clear by the clever structure of the set (designed by John McGinn) and the brilliant actors who we're confident will want to audition.


The four characters are:  


1.  David, the ambitious architect, very excited at getting the job of rebuilding a chunk of London.  He swears he won't build high but keep to a human level.  He gradually comes down to earth as he struggles to cope with all the problems that present themselves:  a railway running round the site, a highpower electric cable running across it, objections to the whole scheme, etc. etc.  Age 40s, 50s.


2.  His wife, Jane, an intelligent, capable woman who, despite a degree in anthropology, is always being given odd jobs to do by David. They have three school-age children (off stage).  Age 40s, 50s.


3.  Colin, a public school-educated; a journalist for a minor paper.  A disappointed man who, as far as he's concerned, has not fulfilled his potential in life.  Knows David from university.  40s. 50s.  He is married to …


4.   Sheila– possibly a bit younger than the others.  When we first meet her, she is anxious to please and frightened that she can never keep up with the likes of Jane and David. Very nervous of Colin.  As the play goes on, she develops resilience and finds qualities she never knew she had. They have two school-age children (off stage).


The characters need to look of the same generation.  





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