John Betjeman on Stage

A one-man stage performance of Edward Fox playing Evelyn Waugh’s friend and Poet Laureate, John Betjeman, is currently touring Southern England. The play entitled “Sand in the Sandwiches” opened in Oxford last month and is reviewed in the Oxford Mail whose critic Tim Hughes enjoyed the play and noted allusions to Waugh in the script:

We find Betjeman approaching his 50th birthday looking back on his life so far through “a magnifying glass of self-pity”. His childhood – exploring his sense of separation and precocious early awareness of his worth as a poet – his family holidays, flings and crushes, his time at Oxford, and his work as a prolific journalist (reviewing films for the Evening Standard among other work), make for fascinating listening – particularly, for this Oxford Playhouse audience, his tales (both bittersweet and downright hilarious) of our city’s eccentricities and colourful characters – such as his friend Evelyn Waugh. We are also introduced to his teddybear – the threadbare Archibald Ormsby-Gore (later immortalised by Waugh as the inspiration for Sebastian Flyte’s bear Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited).

The play is written by Hugh Whitemore who also adapted Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time for television. Edward Fox memorably played Uncle Giles in that production, which was shown on Channel 4. The play will continue with performances in Guildford, Exeter, Salisbury and Folkestone. Details here.


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