Mandeville Enterprises was delighted to learn that the good stout folk of Cambridge had taken up the cause, and were labouring in rehearsal, to perfect their own staging of this magnificent play. Performances took place at The Fitzpatrick Theatre, Queens' College, Cambridge, on Wednesday February 26th to Saturday March 1st 2003, at 11 p.m.

The all-new cast was as follows:

Mr MATTHEW STEVENS ... Stoke Mandeville
Mr ROBIN HOLDEN ... Graham Pennyworth
Mr OWEN MONIE ... Braithwaite etcetera
Miss HANNAH MEYER ... Rachel etcetera
Mr RICHARD ROBERTS ... The King etcetera

Mr Edward Segal ( was the director. See also the BATS website.

Should patrons find the Fitzpatrick Theatre convenient and congenial, then they may like to know that there are other plays to be staged there in the near future, by other playwrights whom Mandeville Enterprises wishes to encourage. These are The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Lysistrata by Aristophanes, and The Three Sisters by Anton Chekov.

Here follow some snapshots taken by Mr Nikolas Lloyd on his new-fangled digital camera, on the occassion of the last night of the run. To avoid using flash-lighting, he opted to employ a very slow shutter speed, which explains both the blurred nature of some of the shots, and the smallness of these pictures, which is an attempt to hide that blurredness.

"We are proud to present The Adventures of Stoke Mandeville, Astronaut and Gentleman, a tale of science and heroism for all the family, except ladies. Brace yourselves!"

"Ow! You hit me!"

"Ah - sorry about that old chap, but you were starting to babble. Had to lay you out for your own good. You do understand."

"What problems have you noticed?"

"Rugby scores are down. There seems to be a lack of enthusiasm for manly injury. There was even a rumour that someone had confided in someone about something."

"A standard third edition Ministry of Manners manual, I think you'll find."

"Could they have been tampered with, do you think?"

"I mean I am the equivalent of Carstairs, but from my dimension. In your world, my mother called me Carstairs, and I met you, and I did lots of great things."

"Careful: don't get above yourself."

"Sorry. But in my dimension I was called Graham, and I became a lawyer, and my life's a mess."

"Bit much to blame on a choice of name, don't you think? More tea?"

"Lucifer's lorgnette's! That's no yard!"

"Isn't it?"

"Have you no eyes in you head, man? It's a ..."

"Sorry to drop by unannounced like this. I'm afraid we need to inspect your workings."

"Oh, so you're not the tea tanker, then?"

"'Oo is 'ee, then?"

"I dunno. I didn't fink to ask."

"Didn't fink to ask? That's no very polite is it? 'As 'ee got any biscuits?"

"Tell you what, I'll just pop this on the revolvulator."

"What do you fink of that, Arthur? Stoke Mandeville, come to visit us!"

"'As 'ee got any biscuits?"

"I picked up this little device while travelling in the foothills of Kajagoogoo-Ah-Ha."

"This beer is contaminated with LAGER!"

"Cor. What a gentleman!"

"And us wiv no biscuits to offer 'im."

"Stoke now executes a perfect landing in his astral carriage, thanks to years of heroic experience, and stout pluck."

"But what you never told me was how you managed to smuggle those seventeen Gurkhas packed in a tea chest out of that Swiss finishing school- Ah, here's my Queen."

"It seemed a poor stroke to me."

"No, I was referring to his attempt at the double one-handed hat doff with self-effacing smile. Got the facial to a tee, but the little finger on the second doff didn't quite have the follow-through."

"You'll never get away with this, Pooter. I'll track you down, even if I have to go to the depths of darkest Provence!"

"You are a puffed-up pompous poltrooooooon!"

"Perhaps, but at least I'm not French."

"Still had his gun, then?"

"Seemed unsporting not to let him keep it."

"The day is won, and The Empire safe. Once again, our heroes have proven themselves more than equal to the machinations of the snail-chewing scoundrels from the land of garlic."

"The Channel Tunnel is still there? Hold this, I'll explain on the way!"

The second curtain call. Those of a nervous disposition shielded their ears from the thunderous applause.

Backstage, after the last night. All but the goateed director seem pretty pleased with the way things have gone.

Laura Davies, wrote the following revue of the Cambridge Production in the The Cambridge Student, on 27th February 2003.

In a world where the Conservatives have actually managed to organise themselves an election victory, Lenin was but a goateed enthusiast and not only Italy and Spain, but also our moderate friends over the Atlantic have voluntarily joined the British Empire, two gentlemen set about defending the realm against "the perils of the French menace". Stoke Mandeville (Matt Stevens) and Carstairs Macdonald (Robin Holden) are the men for the job.

Trouble is, in this parallel universe, old Blighty has gone and colonised the solar system by means of an ingenious system of steam powered space travel, the mole francais has infiltrated the Ministry of Manners and Carstairs isn't Carstairs at all, but rather one Graham Pennyworth, lawyer and one time diner in what seemed a perfectly safe French restaurant in Liverpool. On this important mission they plan to achieve victory by means only of "pipe smoking, pugilism and properly boiled food".

Owen Monie, Hannah Meyer and Richard Roberts work hard, each playing at least two roles. Meyer in particular must be congratulated for her chameleon-like transformations from tough-talking lawyer to obeisant servant all the way to cockney workman and then marble-mouthed narrator.

Thanks to their skill and the jocular camaraderie between Stevens and Holden, the pace doesn't falter and our attention doesn't wander. Fraser Charlton and Nikolas Lloyd based their script on the 1880 discovery of the Isambard Kingdom Brunel notebooks and his ideas for a space-craft, and it is excellent. Well-crafted comically and subtle in its detail, the banter is sustained and also boasts some truly inspired moments; most notably perhaps, the cricket game commentary concerned only with the level of hat doffing skill on display and the revelation that the sixth moon of Jupiter is in fact named New Basingstoke.

There are times when one feels the sound effects would be more appropriate to an aerobics class, and the stage feels a little under-used because of the sparse set and the frequent scene changes. But the fabulous spacecraft control panel, complete with blinking lights and moving dials, more than makes up for these details. Quite frankly, given the subject-matter, the more that is left to the imagination the better. Supported by wonderfully melodramatic lighting and some witty props, the cast is able to evoke an extraterrestrial gentlemen's club with the same ease as a Liverpool office or an alternative cricket pitch. Even the notion of a tea tanker seems momentarily probable. This comedy handful is ideal as a late show, and despite the prohibition of "ladies" and "persons of a French nature" on their publicity, it is eminently suitable for all the family. Have a few drinks first though, and don't expect high art.

The menu repeated:


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