Monday, 30 November 2015

Felicity Kendal in The Mayfly and the Frog (1966)


Doesn't The Good Life star look positively swinging on her scooter here in a still from the 1966 Wednesday Play, The Mayfly and the Frog?

Regrettably, beyond the star pairing of veteran thesp John Gielgud (making his debut in an original play for TV film) and Kendal (setting out on her career), I found Jack Russell's play, just too arch and old fashioned to be enjoyable.

The play kicks off with Kendal's scooter being unceremoniously tipped over by Gielgud's chauffeur driven Rolls Royce at a filling station in a Belgravia mews. When the Roller fails to stop, a disgruntled Kendal gives chase, determined to receive recompense for the broken headlamp the collision caused before heading on to Dover. She arrives at a huge Mayfair mansion and is given short shrift over the telecom. Undeterred, and ingeniously defying the amazing expense devoted to keeping intruders out, the girl enters the mansion via an open window to find Gielgud naked in the bath, whereupon a verbal battle of wits and wills soon plays out. 

It's a traditional culture clash/opposites attract story with a swinging 60s beat; the vivacious and cheeky Kendal in her biker jerkin and jeans, meets the fusty great tycoon. He believes in ownership and preservation, keeping rare and expensive paintings on the walls, whereas Kendal possesses nothing but the clothes she's standing in and a positive manner which means she sees the bright side in every corner of the world she has travelled to. Eventually, Gielgud's aristo (boasting the grand name of Gabriel Quantara - sounds like a villain from The Avengers doesn't it?) comes to view his secluded sanctum, his money and minions in a different light, as he becomes hopelessly enamoured by the vitality of the girl he christens, amongst other things, 'The Mayfly'

It's all just a bit too creaky now for me to fully enjoy, though the two leads are enchanting enough and it's quite amusing to see Gielgud dismiss the boyishly beautiful Kendal as "a child hermaphrodite", "a bisexual" and an "imp"

Fancy it? See it for yourself on YouTube 

To get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic plays please sign the petition I started  here

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