Grand National Night 1956

by Dorothy and Campbell Christie

23rd – 25th April 1956

Racehorse Trainer Gerald Coates kills his wife Babs during an argument

Grand National 56 Prog Grand National 56

Back Row L:R Colin Bracewell, Ernest Golby, Robert Walters, Peter Monger, William Mitchell

Seated L:R Alec Walton (Producer), Peggy Morris, Iza Dolan, Glennise Mitchell, Frank Meakins

The Cast
Morton: Peter Monger
Gerald Oates: Frank Meakins
Babs Coates: Peggy Morris
Philip Balfour: Ernest Golby
Joyce Penrose: Glennise Mitchell
Buns Darling: William Mitchell
Pinkie Collins: Iza Dolan
Detective Inspector Ayling: Colin Bracewell
Sergeant Gibson: Robert Walters

Produced by Sandy Walton

Newbury Weekly News review

Grand National Night, a thriller by Dorothy and Campbell Christie was this year’s production by Compton Players in the Agricultural Research Council Social Hut on three nights last week. It has all the situations necessary for giving every member of the cast plenty of scope, and few opportunities were missed.

The play centres round the butler who, out of loyalty to his employer, conceals vital evidence from the police, and lies so successfully that even his employer does not realise the extent of his knowledge. The employer, who had struck his dipsomaniac wife during a violent quarrel and thought he had killed her, moves the body in her car to Liverpool by train. He swears to all concerned that he never left the house that night.

While keeping the audience in suspense, the play also provides humorous moments, fully appreciated by the audiences which packed the hall.

Frank Meakins was excellent as the husband, fully confident, yet cleverly conveying his uneasiness to the audience. Peggy Morris, as the short-lived wife, did much to set the scene for all that followed. Glennise Mitchell, third party in a matrimonial triangle, gave sincere performances and Peter Monger was outstanding as the butler. The solicitor friend of the husband, ably taken by Ernest Golby was well-supported by Bill Mitchell who was the crushing bore suffered nobly, but to good effect. Colin Bracewell and Bob Walters were convincing as the ambitious Police Inspector and the country sergeant. Iza Dolan as Pinky Collins introduced a liveliness with the assured manner that maintained the interest throughout. Sandy Walton showed a gift for production.

The box office broke previous records, and out of the proceeds the Drama Group are handing £10 to the Coronation Hall building fund.