Players Recreate the Style

A music hall reprise by Michael Leech

An institution much loved by Londoners and visitors to the capital alike, is marking fifty-five years of life in a new playhouse. Well, one should really say a 'renewed playhouse' for the Players' Theatre, housed off the Strand on Villiers Street, returned to its roots after playing the Duchess Theatre – in the West End. It must have been more obvious there, for you have to burrow a bit to find it now.

The fare has not changed a bit however, for there is a deep vein of nostalgia for the entertainment of other times in Britain. From Punch and Judy, to reconstructions of popular plays of other eras, old-style theatre will always have a lure for audiences. Many are lured to the Players' by the promise of a glimpse at real Victorian music hall. But if it is genuinely close to the original how is that achieved in an art-form so evanescent þ as that of the theatre?

The theatre looks much as it used to – once you get past foyers, restaurants and bars – now that British Rail have finished the new Charing Cross Station and the theatre's refurbishment. Two men hang associated with this theatre talked of the art of giving a demanding audience shows as authentic as possible. Geofrey Brawn and Dominic Le Foe are both directors of the Players, and their affection for the place is obvious.

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