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Blog: Local Theatre History

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Myself and The People In My Audience went to see some CULTURE at the top of our road on Saturday night. It was the regular meeting of the News From Nowhere Club, a group named in honour of local boy William Morris, which gets SPEAKERS in to ... well, to SPEAK.

This time it was Mr Murray Melvin, who was part of Joan Littlewood' Theatre Workshop and is still part of the Theatre Royal Stratford - he's had a huge and distinguished career but I must admit main thought as soon as I walked in was "Crikey! He was on Doctor Who!" I looked it up when I got home and discovered that actually he was in TORCHWOOD, as Billis Manger. He was TERRIFYING in that, it's no wonder I remembered it so vividly!

His talk was AMAZING - I've never really thought of in that way before, but Joan Littlewood and company really did change THEATRE forever, and they did it all just down the road from us. It was GRATE, partly because of all the local history but also because of the SHEER QUALITY of Mr Melvin himself. You know when you see people pretending to be ACT-ORS on telly? He was like THAT, except MY GOODNESS ME he was fantastic to watch and listen to. Everything he did and said was POISED and ELEGANT and when he said "Darling Joan" and so on it didn't sound like a silly affectation because he was one of the generation of actors who WERE like that to start with.

It was like seeing third generation knock-offs and mickey takes all your life and suddenly being confronted with THE REAL THING. It was MARVELLOUS - I could have sat and listened to him for HOURS, it was like being lectured to by POSH CHOCOLATE or something. The only thing that got in the way was that half of the other people in the room wanted to JOIN IN. I always find this is that case at these kind of DO's - most of the audience (in the politest way possible, of course) are teachers/former teachers and/or local councillor TYPES who are so used to being THE SPEAKER that they can't BEAR it if someone ELSE does all the talking. THUS there was a lot of PIPING UP and the sort of question that takes three minutes to ask because most of it is "Would you agree with ME that..."

Mr Melvin dealt with it all with ELEGANCE and GRACE, it really was quite WONDERFUL to watch... so much so that it became difficult not to try and talk LIKE him or, indeed, write a blog in that way. We walked the short distance home RAVING about how excellent it had been. Sheer quality, right in the heart of Leytonstone!

posted 13/3/2012 by MJ Hibbett

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