Words by Basil Hood and Music by Edward German
Watts Hall,
April 1925
Cast List
Sir James Jellicoe
Brook Green
William Jelf
Bill Blake
Will Weatherley
Jem Johnson
Mr. Reddish
James Doubleday
Recruiting Sergeant
Nell Reddish
Mustard Seed
Lady Jellicoe

Notes on this performance

2. A Princess of Kensington 

A Fairy Opera…

Although A Princess of Kensington is listed as the second show performed by The Above Bar Guild Musical and Dramatic Society, the group had been quite busy since Merrie England - that opera had been reprised ‘by request’ in October 1924 and then a play, The Chinese Puzzle, was put on in February, 1925.

The Directing Team, Miss E Ashdown and Mr C J Andrews, remained the same as for Merrie England and the splendidly named Mrs Julius Caesar accompanied rehearsals on the piano – recent MDs might be surprised to learn that there were 20 members of the orchestra including no less than seven first and four second violins.

The chances of SOS putting on a production of A Princess of Kensington in this century would be minimal as the cast includes 25 principals (15 men). In 1925 there were also 29 fairies in the chorus (nine of them were men) so the ‘Mistresses of the Robes’ (Mesdames Taylor and Andrews) must have been very busy ladies indeed.

The newspaper review mentioned that the Society ‘scored another success with Hood and German’s comic opera’ and then spent valuable column inches trying to explain a very complicated story involving fairies marrying mortals and thousand year spells which were not actually spells at all. It did eventually go on to state, ‘As Kenna, Oberon’s daughter, Miss May MacLachlan makes a charming princess whilst Mr. A.U. Endacott is excellent as the jealous and morose Azuriel. Much depends on Puck, and as the imp of mischief, Mr. A.J.M. Broomfield is the life and the soul of the play  (in Merrie England he was described as being ‘the life and soul of the piece’ so at least he was consistent!).

The review continues, ‘Both Miss Gladys Ferguson as Joy and Mr. G. Wetherill as Brook Green, who provide a second love interest, sing and act well, while Miss Eva Thorne is seen and heard at her best in the role of Nell Reddish, the niece of an alehouse keeper at Winklemouth-on-Sea. Jeff, a typical sailorman, is admirably portrayed by Mr. H.W. Adcock. Mr. Arthur Lawrence has the opportunity of a capital little character study as Mr. Reddish, the proprietor of The Jolly Tar and he is well supported by Messrs. S. Cavander Hoskins and Jack Maffey as two longshoremen.

As Oberon, Mr. Horace West is a very dignified King of the Fairies, and Miss Vera Pugh, as Titania, a stately Queen. The quartet with the hornpipe was loudly encored and Miss Kathleen Long as Peachblossom has a dainty little song.’

Apparently £304 was donated to the Local Hospital Extension Fund, with an explanation in the programme that ‘Southampton is now about three times the size of a few years ago yet the hospital in Fanshawe Street remains the same size.’

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Peasbody

                                                           Kathleen Long (Peaseblossom)

Photo of Maffey

                       Jack Maffey (James Doubleday)