Play 1, 2010

Lettice and Lovage

by Peter Shaffer

directed by Jill Cross

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A beautifully irreverent play about reinventing history

The Play

Lettice is a tour guide for the National Trust, with the duty of leading rather bored tourists through historic Fustian Hall. To spice things up a bit, she starts improving on history. But heads will roll when the powers that be get wind of this breach of the rules.

This delightful comedy pits the exuberance and passion of Lettice Douffet, with her habit of embellishing the truth, against the grey bureaucrat in love with facts,  Lotte Schoen.

This will be a great piece with the title roles played by two of our most distinguished actors, Maria Plumb and Jenny Brunner. Ably supported by a strong cast of Pat Wockner, Michael Byrnes and a crowd of enraptured tourists, this promises to be a thrilling and hilarious look at life and fight against ugliness, modern architecture and all things “mere”.

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The Playwright

Peter Shaffer is a well known English playwright whose works are a unique mix of philosophical dramas and satirical comedies. For example, The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1964) is about  the tragic conquest of Peru by the Spanish, while Black Comedy (1965) is a humorous look at the antics of a group of characters feeling their way around a pitch black room — although the stage is, of course, actually flooded with light.

Among his more famous plays are  Equus, a journey into the mind of a disturbed young stableboy, and  Amadeus, the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart told by his rival,  Antonio Salieri. Equus won Shaffer the 1975 Tony Award for Best Play while Amadeus won the Evening Standard Drama Award. Both have been made into successful films.

Shaffer was a coal miner during WWII and took a number of jobs including bookstore clerk, and assistant at the New York Public Library, before discovering his dramatic talents.

Lettice and Lovage  was written for Dame Maggie Smith, who played the title role of Lettice Douffet in both the original English and American productions.


 The Director

Jill Cross  has well and truly caught the ‘Theatre Bug.’ As a student, she joined the University of Queensland Drama Society and played Joy in a John Ireland play.
Jill also directed a number of one-act plays during this time and also played alongside Michael Caton. Once graduated, She moved to Rockhampton where she acted onstage and directed for them in such plays as Duet for Two Hands alongside Michael Byrnes and Peter Pan playing Peter.

Jill then moved to Canada and once again was in great demand, because she could put on an English accent. Jill returned to Adelaide, where she was active in theatre
in that city before moving to Brisbane and Villanova Player, where she has acted in and directed many productions. She played Ruth in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and played Queen Eleanor in The Lion in Winter.

Recently she has played the mysterious (and I shall say this only once) Michelle in 'Allo 'Allo (2002) and the cleaning-obsessed, bossy boots Vera in Stepping Out (2006) and admits to being an ‘inexperienced tap dancer.’

Jill has also directed To Kill a Mockingbird and The Matchmaker.  She also directed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and fondly remembers her ‘funky fairies.’ Recently Jill has directed Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet and generally loves directing costume plays with big casts - older, well written plays from the pens of such playwrights as Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.

Lettice and Lovage is the first play she’s directed with such a small cast and admits to not being sure what to do with it, but the tourists scenes are more ‘up her street'.

The Cast

Lettice Douffet

 Maria Plumb

Lotte Schoen

Jenny Brunner

Miss Framer

Pat Wockner

Mr. Bardolph

Michael Byrnes


Richard Gillies
Heinz Brunner
Vivienne Allan-Burton
Michael McNish
Audrey McKibbin
David Jones
Meagan Lawson
Tracey Ollington
Samantha Tierney

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