I Capture the Castle
Cast & Crew
My Mother Joan White played Miss Marcy in my forthcoming biography “Rise Above It, Darling,” she wrote the following about rehearsals: Director Murray Macdonald offered her the role of Miss Marcy, the kindly schoolteacher, who tries to sort out the Mortmain family’s finances, in Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. The cast included Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers, Richard Greene, George Relph, and Roger Moore.
Mother wrote, “Despite a pre-London tour with packed houses wherever we went, the play remained like a well-made car still not firing on all cylinders. On arrival in Southsea, for our final try-out week prior to opening at the Aldwych, Murray called us all together and said he knew of only one man who could pull the show together at short notice — his old friend, Tyrone Guthrie. He felt sure that we would all work furiously together under his direction, and not question any instructions. Guthrie would see the play that evening, call us together in the morning and, throughout the day, introduce his various improvements. Please would we be very patient and co-operative!
Those of us who had worked with Guthrie, foresaw a highly entertaining day as well as some shrewd amendments. We were not disappointed. He opened the rehearsal.
‘If anyone has something to say, say it afterwards! Time is short, and we must press on regardless. All right Dodie?’
Dodie Smith, a little woman in a huge black mink coat, had opened her mouth to speak but clamped it obediently shut. Meanwhile, Guthrie made Georgina Cookson emerge triumphant from the off-stage fight with a broken chamber pot, which she had supposedly cracked over George Relph’s head.
Dodie expressed horror.
Guthrie was always a little too vulgar for Dodie. When Virginia McKenna was requested to pour ‘heel taps’ of sherry back into the decanter, there was almost a riot in the stalls, Dodie hissing dramatically,
‘Disgusting, Tony, disgusting! My public will never stand for that.’
To which Guthrie, drawing himself up to his full six feet six inches, responded,
‘Nonsense. Dodie! Judy and I save the sherry like that in our house.’
Roars of joyous laughter from the cast.”
Wicked Guthrie! But what a genius of a director! By nightfall, no one dared hold up rehearsals or complain. The following week, March 4, 1954, we opened at the Aldwych to mixed reviews and ran for several months.
If you have an interesting observation or anecdote about this production that you think others may be interested in, please sign in in order to record it here.