And So To Bed
by James Bernard Fagan
1940-7 or 1951, Orpington Civic Hall?
This historical romp finds diarist and father of the Admiralty Samuel Pepys rescuing singer Mrs Knight from a violent pickpocket, then slyly arranging a musical tryst with her that evening. His dinner guests include young Francophile dandy Pelham Humphries and brazen Mrs Pierce and Mrs Knepp, but Pepys declares he has urgent business at the Navy office. His wife Elisabeth sees him dress up and, knowing his ways with women, doesn’t believe his story.
Back home, Samuel and his wife confront one another with accusations, protestations and extractions of promises of mutual fidelity. It is now past midnight: their adventures are over… and so to bed (as Pepys concludes his diary entries).
Dating this production is tricky. Official sources list it as being from 1951, but programmes from 1947 list it among past productions. The photos suggest a production too lavish for post-war austerity, and one of the actresses, Phyllis Nash, does not appear in any other show before 1954. Perhaps the pre-1947 show was one of those wartime or immediate post-war productions, possibly produced in one of the members’ houses, and the Society returned to it later in order to give it a proper theatrical treatment.
We don’t have a cast list, but the two ladies seated at the table (surely sisters) in the main picture must be Doreen and Joan Westfold, while the man sitting between them looks like Teddy Hollands, although he appears to be playing Pepys, which we think Vernon Tomalin played. The maid behind them looks like Joyce Stacey. Ellen George played Elisabeth Pepys and Phyl Nash was probably playing the servant girl Deborah Willet, whom Pepys notoriously pursued.