Post-war Britain is the setting for Rivercity Players’ next production, the “charming, charming, charming” 84 Charing Cross Road.
American playwright Helene Hanff’s letter to Marks & Co., an antiquarian bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road, London, W.C. 2. England, led to a 20-year friendship between Hanff and the store manager, Frank Doel. Over time, the staff initiated their own communication with Helene in response to the food parcels she was sending to offset the severe rationing in Britain.
After Doel’s death in late 1968, Hanff published the letters in a book titled, 84 Charing Cross Road, which led to a play and a movie. The play has been described as “Charming, charming, charming….A gently touching hands across the sea chronicle, sentimental in the best sense of the word,” by The New York Daily News.
Rivercity Players is bringing this play to Campbell River’s Rivercity Stage at 1080 Hemlock St.
Tim Myerscough has taken on the role of Frank Doel, and Natalie Anderson will be playing Helene Hanff. The audience will also meet some of the book store staff, played by Susan Wydenes, Lynne Macara and George Lake, and also a visitor to the store, played by Sara O’Haver.
The play chronicles living conditions in post-war Britain as well as Winston Churchill returning as Prime Minister, the death of King George Vl and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll.
The books Helene was buying from Marks & Co. were reference materials she needed in her job as a script writer for Ellery Queen, a radio mystery series. She was most interested in “I was there” books that contained ‘peachy’ descriptions of places and people from Donne to Delafield.
She could have bought the books in New York City except that it was a long way into Manhattan to find out they didn’t have what she needed.
Director Linda Von Zuben is very excited to be bringing the play to Campbell River.
“I love this play,” said Von Zuben, “and I am enjoying the challenge of bringing these characters to life through the letters they have written.”
The cast and crew have risen to the challenge of representing New York City and London on the same stage, and are looking forward to opening night.
The play runs from Wednesday, March 7 to Sunday, March 18. Tickets are available at the Tidemark Theatre, CR Laundromat and Impressions Gallery.