Rattle of a Simple Man

Original London West End Production 1962

1st West End Revival 1980

2nd West End Revival 2004


Play by Charles Dyer. Percy and his mates have come to London from Manchester in order to attend the Cup Final. Under the influence of too much beer and to win a bet, Percy has gone home with a lady of the night... but then a peculiar friendship develops between the shy middle-aged man and the worldly wise lady as they are forced to confront their insecurities and discover that they may not be so different after all.


Rattle of a Simple Man - Original London West End Production 1962

Opened 19 September 1962, Closed 14 September 1963 at the Garrick Theatre

The original cast featured Shelia Hancock as 'Cyrenne' and Edward Woodward as 'Percy' with Daniel Moynihan as 'Ricky'. Directed by Donald McWhinnie with designs by Vic Symonds.


Rattle of a Simple Man - 1st West End Revival 1980

Previewed 16 September 1980, Opened 18 September 1980, Closed 28 February 1981 at the Savoy Theatre

The cast featured Pauline Collins as 'Cyrenne' and John Alderton as 'Percy' with John Challis as 'Ricard'. Directed by Peter Egan with designs by Tanya McCallin and lighting by Mick Hughes.


Rattle of a Simple Man - 2nd West End Revival 2004

Previewed 6 May 2004, Opened 11 May 2004, Closed 5 June 2004 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)

The cast features Michelle Collins as 'Cyrenne' and Stephen Tompkinson as 'Percy' with Nick Fletcher as 'Ricky'. Directed by John Caird with designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Chris Davey and sound by John Leonard.

This production mark's Michelle Collins' West End stage debut, she is best known for her television role as 'Cindy Beale' in EastEnders. Stephen Tompkinson is probably best known for playing 'Father Peter' in the TV series Ballykissangel. His West End stage credits include the recent revival of Joseph Kesselring's play Arsenic and Old Lace at the Novello Theatre in February 2003.

"The situation has interesting possibilities. It could be painful, or painfully funny, while you suspect that under the surface Percy is actually rather a complicated man... In practice the play is too clumsy to get very far. It's a nice idea to have Cyrenne dupe Percy into supposing that she is an aristocrat, for instance, but you would have to be an idiot (which he isn't) to believe some of the details she comes up with. The whole evening tends to be a bit creaky and obvious. But it is reasonably sympathetic, even so, and it is helped along by a good performance from Michelle Collins and a very good one from Stephen Tomkinson. To watch Percy fumbling his way through a foxtrot is to share his frustration; to hear him boast (in the face of all the evidence) that he's 'no angel' is a joy." The Sunday Telegraph

"The 'hero' of Charles Dyer's mesmerisingly old-fashioned play is Percy, a 42-year-old virgin from Manchester who is picked up by a prostitute after a football match... This play makes the 1960s look almost Victorian. Were there really men then, even in Manchester, who still thought that the word bottom was rude? But that isn't what makes the play so old-fashioned - it is the writing, which is exactly that, writing rather than dialogue. These people explain everything about themselves as if a subtext were a punishable offence." The Sunday Times

"Forty years on, the play is certainly a rather quaint period piece, an echo of a lost and innocent world, but it remains a sensitive, funny and eventually moving study of two lonely poeple struggling to find common ground... In John Caird's poignant production, and the finely observed performances of Michelle Collins and Stephen Tompkinson, the play takes on new life... [Collins] makes the part very much her own. And Tompkinson is terrific as the gauche Percy." The Daily Mail

"It is unlikely that Michelle Collins will look back with any great fondness on her West End debut. For reasons unfathomable, the former EastEnders actress has chosen to put small screen domination on hold in favour of a caricatured role in a play so creaking it should have been pensioned off years ago. It is one of those eternal theatrical mysteries that, out of all the riches of drama both ancient and modern, it seemed to someone somewhere a good idea to revive this dire Charles Dyer piece from 1962... It is heroic of Collins and Stephen Tompkinson to plough through this repetitive twaddle, although one fears that the need for them to turn up at the theatre each night will shortly be over. Tompkinson has the marginally less gruesome part and initially fares well with the wisecracks beloved of a certain type of sexually-repressed Englishman... Collins, like the character of Cyrenne, is all over the place, hot then cold, up then down. She is a thoroughly unconvincing hooker, with her pinups on the wall and stuffed toy on the bed, and the dated dialogue is a constant-struggle. Dyer's theme is loneliness, a sensation even harder to bear at the time when the Sixties were just beginning to swing. Yet John Caird's leaden production finds no way in to any wellspring of deep-running emotion. All that remains is the death rattle of a simple man." The London Evening Standard

Rattle of a Simple Man in London at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre) previewed from 6 May 2004, opened on 11 May 2004 and closed on 5 June 2004.