Charley’s Aunt

The Frankie Howerd vehicle previously seen in the West End and on tour from December 1955 to April 1956 [qv], revived with an altered supporting cast.

Cast & Crew


Amy Spettigue
Colonel Sir Francis Chesney
Lord Fancourt Babberley




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Play description

Charley’s Aunt is a farce in three acts written by Brandon Thomas. It broke all historic records for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466 performances.

The play was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds in February 1892.

Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham are undergraduates at Oxford University in love, respectively, with Kitty Verdun and Amy Spettigue. Charley receives word that his aunt, Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez, a rich widow from Brazil whom he has never met, is coming to visit him. The boys invite Amy and Kitty to lunch to meet her, also intending to declare their love to the girls, who are being sent away to Scotland with Amy’s uncle, Stephen Spettigue, who is also Kitty’s guardian. They seek out another Oxford undergraduate, Lord Fancourt Babberley (known as “Babbs”), to distract Donna Lucia while they romance their girls. While they are out, Babbs breaks into Jack’s room to steal all his champagne, but Jack and Charley intercept him and persuade him to stay for lunch. Babbs tells the boys about his own love, the daughter of an English officer called Delahay, whom he met in Monte Carlo, although he does not remember her name. Babbs also uses Jack’s room to try on his costume for an amateur play in which he is taking part.

Amy and Kitty arrive to meet Jack and Charley, but Donna Lucia has not arrived yet, and so the girls leave to go shopping until she shows up. Annoyed, Jack orders Charley to go to the railway station to wait for Donna Lucia. Jack soon receives an unexpected visit from his father, Sir Francis Chesney, a former colonel who served in India. Sir Francis reveals that he has inherited debts that have wiped out the family’s fortunes; instead of going into politics as he had intended, Jack will have to accept a position in Bengal. Horrified, Jack suggests that Sir Francis should marry Donna Lucia, a widow and a millionaire, in order to clear the family debts. Sir Francis is hesitant but agrees to meet Donna Lucia before he makes a decision.

Charley receives a telegram saying that Donna Lucia will not be arriving for a few days. The boys panic: the girls are coming, and they won’t stay without a chaperone. Fortunately Babbs’s costume happens to be that of an old lady. Jack and Charley introduce Babbs as Charley’s aunt. His strange appearance and unchanged voice (he had never acted before) do not raise any suspicions.

Photo credits


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