At the end of the 1960s Anne appeared at
Leicester in the moving but controversial play A Day In The Death Of
Joe Egg. To show that we don’t publish only the complimentary
material about Anne & Peter, check out the unflattering photo
which accompanied this nice review!
You’ll Either Laugh Or Cry At This Play
The idea of a comedy about the tragedy of a
spastic child written by the father of a spastic, sounds sick and
That is, until you have seen the production of
Peter Nichols’ “A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg”, at Leicester’s
For this play is warm, touching and humorous. And
while at times it reaches the height of comedy, it never loses touch
with the deep tragedy that the birth of a spastic can bring into a
Around the everyday problems, and the reactions
of outsiders, Peter Nichols has cleverly built this play to appeal
to the opposing extremes of human emotion.
And he also portrays the terrible dilemma of the
parents, and the ridiculous way in which they each try to overcome
or forget their problem.
This production, directed by Michael Bakewell,
leads up to a finale steeped in sadness and poignancy. Ironically,
it is then that the parents find what could be a solution, but by
then the problem has smashed the relationship.
Making a return to the Phoenix, Douglas Fisher
superbly portrays the father. As a teacher, a father, a husband and
a man Bri has failed - Doug Fisher displays this in a mature and
moving manner, yet he never fails to exploit the comic side of this
Anne Stallybrass and Douglas Fisher as Sheila and
Bri, parents of the spastic child in Peter Nichols’ play, “A Day
In The Death Of Joe Egg” at the Phoenix Theatre
Anne Stallybrass adds a warm and homely touch to
the part of the mother - a woman who has to live with a promiscuous
past, and who has inflicted on herself the punishment of looking
after the vegetable that is her child.
She is particularly moving at the end, when she
makes a compromise with her husband’s hardened attitude towards
the child and herself - unaware that Bri has already decided to
abandon the family.
In brilliant contrast to the parents are Stephen
MacDonald and Lesley Nunnerley as the do-gooding couple who try to
help (or ruin) matters.
And the spastic Joe is well-presented by Frances
Alger - who knocks seven years off her age to become the limp,
Who is Joe Egg then? Well, it’s probably not so
much the child, but the people and set-up around her. These
certainly are the things which are destroyed in the play, while Joe
herself is left to continue existing.
Aided by an excellent set, designed by Franco
Colavecchia, this production really touches the nerve centre of
emotion. And sick? Certainly not - you’ll either laugh or cry, and
© Leicester Mercury
26 February 1969
We believe it was after this performance that Anne experienced
several months without acting work, taking temporary employment in a
bank. Then, out of the blue, she was offered the role of Jane
Six Wives Of Henry VIII.
Almost a year to the day after first playing
Sheila, Anne returned to her home town to reprise the role, yet
again receiving a good review.
Palace Play Controversial, But
Don’t Be Put Off - It’s A Good ‘Egg’
A really meaty play and two very fine leading
performances make “A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg” at the Palace
Theatre this week one of the most satisfying productions put on
there for some time.
The story, centreing round the controversial
theme of a young spastic girl and her parents who try to live her
life for her, has been advertised as one likely to put off many
theatregoers. In fact, there is plenty of rich, often racy, comedy
combined well with pathos that has no artificiality in it.
William Lucas and Anne Stallybrass are both very
rewarding to watch playing the well-created roles of the married
couple. Peter Nichols’ dialogue is very natural, but lively, and
all through there is no hint of false sentiment or preaching.
The extraordinarily difficult part of Joe is
taken by Fiona Geraghty who, without over-acting or pulling punches,
creates the right sense of being a vegetable.
Roger Rowland and Pamela Iles, as a second
couple, are perhaps a bit less convincing, but there the author has
taken the opportunity of turning them into types rather than more
solid people to make his point. The same is true of Maryann Turner,
who completes the cast as William Lucas’s mother.
Yet overall, the play makes a deep impression and
avoids any cheapness.
If it isn’t to your taste there’s a nice
jolly farce on next week to help you forget all about it.
© Southend Standard
5 March 1970