The Holy Terror

Play by Simon Gray. A moving and funny portrait of a flawed genius. Arrogant, manipulative and cunning, Mark Melon reigns supreme as king of the publishing jungle, where nothing stops a good story and ever more profitable book rights. But it's tough at the top, and when inner demons get hold, his fall from grace is one of majestic proportions. A passionate and absorbing journey, and a masterclass of psychological battles, this modern morality play has been completely rewritten and retitled as The Holy Terror by Simon Gray since it first appeared in London's West End under the title Melon at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1987. This play was instigated by Stuart Sutherland's work 'Breakdown'.

1987: Melon - West End Premiere with Alan Bates

1989: The Holy Terror - Radio Premiere with James Laurenson

2004: The Holy Terror - West End Premiere with Simon Callow

Simon Gray's London theatre plays include The Common Pursuit, Butley, Quartermaine's Terms, The Last Cigarette, Old Masters, Otherwise Engaged, and Life Support.


1987: Melon - West End Premiere with Alan Bates

Previewed 17 June 1987, Opened 23 June 1987, Closed 12 December 1987 at the Haymarket Theatre

The cast featured Alan Bates as 'Mark Melon', Carole Nimmons as 'Kate Melon', Jason Carter as 'Josh Melon', Glyn Grain as 'Michael', William Squire as 'Gladstone', Tim Hardy as 'Rupert', Sam Dastor as 'Jacob', Donna Donovan as 'Melissa', Shirley Cassedy as 'Samantha', and Jack Chissick as 'Barklow'/'Len'/'Sir Archibald MacTwayne'.

Directed by Christopher Morahan, with designs by Liz da Costa, lighting by Robert Bryan, and music by Stephen Oliver.


1989: The Holy Terror - Radio Premiere with James Laurenson

BBC Radio 3, Friday 6 October 1989

The cast featured James Laurenson as 'Mark Melon', Marcia King as 'Kate Melon', Samuel West as 'Josh Melon', Susie Brann as 'Samantha', Robin Bailey as 'Gladstone', Geoffrey Whitehead as 'the Shrink', Sylvester Morand as 'Michael', Brian Miller as 'Jacob', Struan Rodger as 'Rupert', Joe Dunlop as 'Graeme', and Joan Walker as 'Gladys Powers'.

Directed by Jane Morgan.


2004: The Holy Terror - West End Premiere with Simon Callow

Previewed 8 April 2004, Opened 14 April 2004, Closed 8 May 2004 at the Duke of York's Theatre

A major production of Simon Gray's play The Holy Terror in London starring Simon Callow

The cast featured Simon Callow as 'Mark Melon', Geraldine Alexander as 'Kate Melon', Matt Canavan as 'Ned Melon', Lydia Fox as 'Samantha Eggerley', Robin Soans as 'Gladstone'/'the Shrink', Tom Beard as 'Michael'/'Jacob'/'Rupert'/'Graeme', and Beverley Klein as 'Gladys Powers'.

Directed by Laurence Boswell, with designs by Es Devlin, lighting by Adam Silverman, music by Simon Bass, and sound by Fergus O'Hare.

Simon Callow, who plays the central role of 'Mark Melon' says: "He's a buccaneer, dynamic and ruthless. A lot of people would like to see him get his comeuppance and he does, big time... Being by Simon Gray, it's told in a wonderfully funny and disturbing kind of way but with extraordinary panache and theatrical brilliance. It's a curious combination of extreme pain and comedy."

Simon Callow's London theatre credits include 'Otto' in Daniel Kramer's production of Franz Xaver Kroetz's Through the Leaves at the Duchess Theatre in 2003; 'Paul Verlaine' in David Hare's revival of Christopher Hampton's Total Eclipse at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in 1981; 'Orlando' in John Dexter's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1979; and 'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart' in Peter Hall's production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1979.

Geraldine Alexander's London theatre credits include 'Ariel'/'Ceres' in Lenka Udovicki's revival of William Shakespeare's The Tempest at the Shakespeare's Globe in 2000; 'Kaja Fosli' in Adrian Noble's revival of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1989; and 'Heavenly Finley' in Harold Pinter's production of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth at the Haymarket Theatre in 1985.

Beverley Klein's London theatre credits include 'Mrs Lovett' in David McVicar's revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, for Opera North, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1998, and Sadler's Wells in 2002.

"Simon Gray's play about the dirty business of selling books is a strange affair that doesn't quite hit the spot. In the lead role, Simon Callow is at his powerful comic best, but it's hard to comprehend why we're supposed to give a damn about an elite professional clever dick getting his comeuppance. That said, Four Weddings and a Funeral star Callow is fabulous as the malevolent Mellon who takes over a traditional London publishing house and chucks out all the poetry and highbrow literature in favour of pamphlets on snack making, sex education manuals and books about bondage... Playing multiple roles as Mellon's various authors and editors, Tom Beard adds a nice light touch... To the reliable Mr Callow, top marks. But a single bravado performance does not a good play make." The Daily Mirror

"Fans of Simon Callow will be glad to see him back in the West End and firing on all cylinders in Simon Gray's The Holy Terror. He plays monstrously egotistical Mark Melon, who takes over a publishing house and commercialises it. Poetry is out and erotic fiction and self-help sex manuals are in. This wonderful office comedy has a healthy dollop of political incorrectness as he boozes for Britain, abuses his aspiring writers and bonks (his favourite word) his secretary... The cast, directed by Laurence Boswell, is spot-on, with excellent performances from Robin Soans as Melon's deaf publisher partner, Tom Beard, who plays four different writers, and the luscious Lydia Fox as the office totty. Larded with terrific jokes and a sizzling wit, The Holy Terror is superbly funny and malicious but less convincing as an anatomy of a breakdown." The Daily Express

"It is a revised version of an old play, Melon, which opened in 1988 with Alan Bates in the lead. His reportedly dazzling performance may have accounted for its success because the play, even in this overhauled form, is a decidedly uneven, broken-backed piece... A play which begins as a farcical satire of the publishing world suddenly thinks it's Othello, a study of sexual jealousy. What Gray thought he was doing is anyone's guess. Nevertheless, he is such a witty writer that, in spite of this overextended shambles, there are lines to enjoy. Simon Callow, too, can be funny." The Mail on Sunday

The Holy Terror in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 8 April 2004, opened on 14 April 2004, and closed 8 May 2004.