Project Description

Temptation 1990 Westminster London Poster Toby

Temptation (West End)

Company and Stage Manager for Václav Havel’s TEMPTATION, a drama translated from the Czech by George Theiner, which opened at the Westminster Theatre (now re-built), in London’s West End on June 6, 1990 and closed on July 14, 1990, after 48 performances and a budget of £250,000.

Produced by Hugh Steadman Williams for Westminster Productions Ltd. and presented at the Westminster Theatre.  

Directed by James Roose-Evans; Set Design by Bruno Santini and Michael T. Roberts; Costume Design by Ian MacNeil; Lighting Design by David Lawrence; Sound Design & Incidental Music by Kevin Malpass; Company and Stage Managed by Toby Simkin; Movement Adviser: Geraldine Stephenson and Magic / Illusion Consultant: Ali Bongo.

STARRING Sylvester McCoy (Albert Fistula); Frank Middlemass (The Director / Vogue & Evacuation Voice Over); Aden Gillett (Dr. Henry Forster); Rula Lenska [aka Countess Roza-Marie Leopoldyna Lubienska] (Valerie Vilma, Scientist / Vogue Voice Over); Robert Longden (Deputy Director); Christopher Adamson (Dr. Alex Nevison); Mark Montinaro (Lt. Jones (Warder to the Institute)); Anna Barnes (Lt. Smith (Warder to the Institute)); Sukie Smith (Dr. Elizabeth (Libby) Lawrence / Mrs. Hobson (Dr. Forster’s Landlady)); Angela Clerkin (Maggie Clarke); Sara Stweart (Poppy Petts); Andrew Lawden (Secretary to the Director / Boris); Jerome Turner (Dr. William Kotters); Tristram Davies (Inspector Stevens); Toby Simkin (Vogue & Evacuation Voice Over); Franc Fioli & Penelope Diamond (Lovers) [in the onstage film] with musicians on Viola: Kate Musker; Guitar: Derek Parris and Oboe: Chris Parsons.

Assistant Costume Designer: Celia Griffiths; Dance Teacher (Lambarda): Kerry Ribchester; Dance Researcher (Vogue): Andrew Lawden; Casting Consultant: Penny Wesson; Additional Lyrics by Robert Longden [“The Time Has Come“]; Production Manager: Howard Bird; Company & Stage Manager: Toby Simkin; Deputy Staged Managed by Susan James; Assistant Stage Managed by Richard ReddropAnna Barnes; Public Relations: Sue Hyman & Angela McArthur; Marketing by Danny Thorpe; Photographer: John Haynes; Graphics Designer: John Farley; Head Carpenter: Denis Groutage; Head Electrician: Mark Bloxsidge and Assistant Electrician: Kim Fox.

Props Construction by Makers; Props Construction by Tim Sykes & Colette Christmas [V.I.S.P.]; Wardrobe Supervisor: Karen Marsh; Wardrobe Assistant: Mandy Amielle & Michael Blacket; Costume Construction by Academy Costumes; Ms. Lenska’s Dresses by Celia Rhoden; Ms. Lenska’s Dancewear by Celia Dewes; Jewellry by Andrew Logan [for Ms. Lenska]; Suits by Alan Seltzer [for Mr. Longden]; Hair Stylist: Richard and Reggie of Michaeljohn [for Ms. Lenska]; Wigs by Gillie Clark; Sound Board Operator: Adrian Gummer; Film Camera & Lighting: Pete Collis, Production Assistant: Teresa Dadey; Accounting by Ray Spalding; Accounting Assistant: Marie McGowan; Scenery Construction by Complete Theatre Services and Lighting Supply by NOVA Ltd..

A Faustian play written by the Czech playwright (and President) in 1985 has given the Faust legend a provocative twist, where ‘Dr. Henry Forster’ is a scientist, and part of an institution that looks down on the occult and it’s uses. Following the course of the original story, Dr. Henry Forster makes a deal with the devil to forward his love life and career, but in the end pays the ultimate price of his soul, showing internal conflict as he struggles to reconcile his beliefs and his honor with his needs and desires. The West End theatre was bought by the Westminster Memorial Trust in April 1946 as an international moral and spiritual movement memorial to men in Moral Re-Armament (MRA) who gave their lives in World War II.

 is remembered in West End theatre history as the show that:

  • Closed the Westminster Theatre (it was considered too sexually suggestive for many of the MRA theatre owners) and sold in 1998 for £2.7 million;
  • It was written by Vaclav Havel, the past president of the Czech Republic.
  • It changed the rules with the British Musicians Union after Toby Simkin won a public battle to allow prop radio music not requiring live musicians;
  • It was at the height of the divorce of Rula Lenska and Denis Waterman with intense daily gutter press (News of the World, Hello, OK and Enquirer) intrusion and offers of bribes to Toby Simkin and others in the company.  Press were aggressive pre-Princess Diana death — one offered £1,500 for a story from me about Rula, and £5,000 for a photo of the two of them together;
  • It was the first stage appearance of Sylvester McCoy since leaving his starring role as Doctor Who;
  • The show ended each performance with a carefully executed stage illusion of bursting into flames and orchestrated public evacuation;
  • The adjoining Phoenix pub had a private door onto the stage right wing for the Westminster Theatre crew, and a theatre paging/bell system installed behind the bar which was used nightly for the crew to make their cues on time;
  • The original Westminster Theatre additionally had a secret private royal box and tunnel that could only be accessed from across Palace Road under the Royal Mews inside the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
  • A campaign by the owner to save the theatre ended when a fire destroyed 75% of the building on 27 June 2002, with demolition coming soon afterwards.
  • The St. James Theatre (now The Other Palace) has now been built on the old site and opened in September 2012.

by Vaclav Havel