Horsington’s champion Coarse Actors*

The MPO’s Coarse actors at Ealing – Jessie Stones, Oscar Shave, Richard Gaunt, Sukie Read, Gemma Kiddle, Tony White (kneeling), Linda Mumford. Neil Edwards, Neil Harrison, Peter Mumford, Matt Baker and Chris Bailward – on the floor, dead.

The Milborne Port Opera, Horsington’s favorite local opera company,  has just won the World Coarse Acting Championship at the Questors Theatre, Ealing. Featured in the cast was Horsington’s Richard Gaunt, who also directed the play, and Chris Bailward, who played the title role.

Chris Bailward

Other cast members will be familiar to the many Horsington regulars who support the company every year.

The competition took place on Saturday 25th November.

The award was made to a delighted cast by Timothy West, the chief adjudicator. The MPO team won against competition from 7 other groups, including one professional company. The evening was a hilarious assortment of different acting styles and genres as each act vied with the others to create on-stage mayhem with well-intentioned performances which go awry.

The MPO’s challenge was to write and produce a spoof 15-minute “Coarse Operetta” in which everything which can, does, go wrong. MPO’s Neil Edwards  distilled his show “The Murder at Shakerley House” into the world’s first bite-sized drawing room whodunnit operetta, which the company proceeded to ruin with wrong notes, missed entrances, over (and under) acting and general incompetence. One actor, Tony White, stole the show with his inability to rise from a kneeling position – he was marooned on stage until the intermission, when he was rescued by the stage manager.

Richard Gaunt with Jessie Stones

Richard Gaunt is a veteran “Coarse Actor*” who was in the play which won the first World Coarse Acting Championship back in in 1972.

The competition was to celebrate the 90th year of author Michael Green, whose hilarious book “The Art of Coarse Acting” (still in print after 52 years) inspired the genre.

“The Art of Coarse Acting” inspired three successful Edinburgh Fringe shows (Richard Gaunt appeared in 2 of them), tv spin-offs by Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies and of course “Acorn Antiques”. Lately, “The play that goes wrong” has been enjoying enormous success in theatres around England, including a successful run at Salisbury.

*Coarse Acting – A Coarse actor is one who knows the words, but not the order in which they come – Michael Green.


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