With the future of the theatre seemingly safely established, Fred & Val thought the audiences might enjoy some folk music as a change. One member of our early team – Ian Harris – had been a stalwart from the beginning (and, along with his wife Isobel, remained so for years to come, either on-stage or manning the public bars. His gorgeous shot-silk waistcoats were always admired).
The Threewheelers brought a refreshing change of entertainment – their informal approach to the audiences was a delight and removed the normally accepted barrier between performers and the audience. Several admiring patrons equated them with the ease which Music Hall acts would connect with their own audiences. The offbeat humour and comedy combined with the talented singing and playing was so well received that they returned to us on two later occasions, 1975 and 1977.
Ian’s wide range of contacts included one gentleman who was the proud possessor of a radio-controlled Farting Ferret which would sometimes feature in the Threewheelers’ performance (though sadly never at Tew!)
Years later in a dramatic play one of the actors was rather toffee-nosed and avoided the common stage crew when he could. So much so that, at the end of each performance when the complex set had to be returned to that for the following night’s Act 1 we all mucked in and helped the crew. All except for this chap, who after a quick drink in the bar, would vanish homewards.
We all thought this bad form and a Cunning Plan was hatched to extract a little revenge on the last night. (We were banking on Fred being absent organising the party grub in the kitchen and Val – being the perfect lady – would never comment at such a sound.)
As part of the action, the actor in question had to bend down to the floor as part of his business at downstage left, and it so happened that part of the furniture setting at that location included a pretty little Edwardian drum table with an integral drawer.
You’ve guessed it – into said drawer the aforementioned Ferret was carefully inserted and, as it gave a choice of five different and very realistic, um, sounds we set it for the fruitiest fart it could give.
All went well: at his cue, the victim crossed downstage left and bent over. Ferret’s remote control button was pressed and it performed faultlessly. Unfortunately… when we’d tested it in the quiet of the control room the sound wasn’t too loud. Within the confines of the drawer however, the drum table acted like a resonating board and produced an alarmingly loud rendition!
The audience thought it a huge joke – the actor turned bright red and at the end of the show, when we were all anticipating the after-show party, he quietly slipped off home. Rough justice you may think, but everybody’s shared philosophy was to help where help was needed. We had no time for prima donnas or slackers and during the entire life of the theatre, that was the only occasion where any form of censure had to be applied.