The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre
October 9, 10, 11 & 12, 1991
The Royal Pardon
by John Arden & Margaretta D’Arcy
– The Arthur Churchill Award for Excellence
– Best Director
– Best Actor – Bob Ryder
– Best Acting Performances – Patrick Johnson
– Best Programme Design
Bob Ryder – Luke [a soldier]
Philip O’Brien – Charles [a clown]
Judith Berrill – Esmeralda
Ralph Dawes – Mr. Croke
Sheila Wright – Mrs. Croke
Paul Brand – William
Kevin Isaac – Mr. Hopkins [a Constable]
Stanley Jones – Mr. Higginbottom [an Under Constable]
Audrey Laye – Mrs. Higginbottom [his wife]
The English Court
Philip Burton – Lord Chamberlain
Patrick Johnson – The King
Janet Comber – The Prince
The French Court
Philip O’Brien – An Officer
Margaret Faggetter – Mme Zenobie [an Actress]
Philip Burton – M. Hercule [an Actor]
Patrick Johnson – The King
Hannah Collis – The Princess
Meriel Murdoch-Hume – A Cook
Stage Manager – Dave Comber
Set Construction – Ralph Dawes
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Construction – Dave Comber
Set Construction – Mike Davy
Music Composer – Patrick Johnson
Properties (begged, borrowed or stolen) – Sue Whittaker
Continuity – Jean Porter
Lighting – Frances Thorne
Costumes – Margaret Faggetter
Costumes – Frances Thorne
Costumes – Meriel Murdoch-Hume
Masks – Judith Berrill
Front of House Manager – Mark Flower
Box Office – Jill Redman
Publicity – Andrew Cregeen
Publicity – Ann Donkin
Publicity – Jean Porter
Foyer Photographs – George Laye
Programme Note #1: The Royal Pardon
JB wrote: “The Royal Pardon is a plea for popular theatre, against theatre for the elite few. The Authors accept that theatre is a compromise between real and unreal and celebrate this fact. As the Prologue says: ‘All is paper; all is cardboard’. So sit back and enjoy yourself as we reveal the unreal and revel in the irrelevant!”
Programme Note #2: The Royal Pardon
About the Authors
John Arden was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire in 1930 and now lives with his wife, Margaretta D’Arcy in Galway, Ireland.
Arden’s career as a dramatist began with The Radio Play / The Life of Man followed by three plays produced at the Royal Court Theatre, London. These were The Waters of Babylon, performed once in 1957, and greeted with outright hostility. Live Like Pigs  and Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance , his best known play. These early plays baffled audiences, due partly to the fact that he would present two strong sides to the issue concerned within the play, yet refuse to let audiences know where he stood on the subject. The theatre-going audiences of the time demanded their drama in black and white, right and wrong. Arden presented them with the grey area in between and was thus labelled ‘difficult’ and largely ignored.
The Workhouse Donkey was staged at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1963, under the direction of Laurence Olivier, followed by Armstrong’s Last Goodnight  written in an archaic Scottish dialect, and Left Handed Liberty commissioned to commemorate the 750th anniversary of The Magna Carta.
Arden began collaborating with Margaretta D’Arcy with The Happy Haven in 1960, followed the same year by The Business of Good Government, a nativity play. The reaction to his own plays, together with D’Arcy’s ideas on the theatre let them to write a play expounding these ideas: The Royal Pardon.
The Royal Pardon came at a turning point in their careers and henceforward they took a more and more uncommercial path, culminating in 1972 with The Island of the Mighty staged by The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Arden and D’Arcy attended the first run through, two weeks prior to opening and found themselves unhappy with the extensive cuts inflicted by the Director; and the general style of the production. Unable to resolve these problems in a meeting of everyone concerned, they picketed the theatre. At the preview, some of their supporters stopped the play, Arden offered to speak but was shouted down by the audience. He and D’Arcy left for Ireland saying ‘We will never write for you again’.
Since then, Arden and D’Arcy have worked mainly in the Republic of Ireland, their main output being the 26 hour Non Stop Connolly Show about the Irish Activist James Connolly, staged at Dublin’s Festival Hall over Easter 1975; The Little Gray Home in the West  and Vandaleur’s Folly .
Even if they keep to their world and never write for the English Theatre again, their vast and diverse collection of plays remain some of the richest and most thought provoking in the English language.[John Arden 26 October 1930 – 28 March 2012] [Margaretta D’Arcy 1934 – ]
Review #1: The Royal Pardon
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: October 18 issue – page 13
Reviewer: Alan Olieff
Text Header: “Big laughs lacking in the Pardon”
A play called The Royal Pardon should have been called The Royal What?! At Southwick’s Barn theatre last week. The first-night audience for Wick Theatre Company’s show seemed slightly stunned by the mish-mash of slapstick, dubious comedy and morality. Writers John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy must have been chiefly to blame for the lack of genuine comedy in the first act.
The antics of a strange company of strolling actors at first came across as a pantomime without the laughs. Paul Brand provoked the most merriment in his pouting rôle as camp actor William, while Ralph Dawes offered slightly more subtle comedy as the no-nonsense troupe leader Mr Croke. Bob Ryder put in a confident performance as soldier Luke, who joined the company as a stage-hand and steered it to fortune.
He came across as an outspoken moralist left with a bitter taste of a recent war between the English and the French.
Entertainment value finally surfaced during the second act, after the King of England had chosen the actors to represent the country in France. They were closely pursued by Constable Hopkins [Kevin Isaac], who raised a few smiles as a persistent policeman with a vocal technique of Prime Minister John Major. The high point came when Luke and Esmeralda [Judith Berrill] performed a frantic off-the-cuff play to the French king [Patrick Johnson].
Young actresses Janet Comber and Hannah Collis made a good impression as an English prince and the French princess respectively. The pair looked set to make the most of their ‘arranged’ between-the-wars alliance. Good Allo Allo – style French rôles came from Phillip O’Brien as an officer and Margaret Faggetter as lively actress Madame Zenobie.
Wick Theatre has previously shown its calibre with an awe-inspiring performance of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. Following that, The Royal Pardon was a disappointment.