6 SEPTEMBER 1975, Page 15


Waspe The return of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to the West End has Prompted the shrewdly enterprising Soho Poly lunchtime theatre to plan a revival of a one-act burlesque written in 1891 by W. S. Gilbert and called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern — tragic episode in three tableaux' — which has, of course, no resemblance whatever to the Stoppard play. No doubt they hoped also to benefit from the production of Gilbert's long-neglected Engaged by the National Theatre. Alas, this latter quaint piece has Proved such a box-office turkey that it is being swiftly withdrawn from the National's Old Vic repertory.

Busier still

As if the collapse of Engaged were not bothersome enough to the National's busy director, Peter Hall, he is now having to contemplate yet again the possibility of a move to the new South Bank building — with a company well below the strength needed to fill It,With a repertoire that is hard-pressed to serve adequately even the Old Vic, and before the money needed to finance the operation has been properly sorted out with the Arts Council and the Government. Hall was criticised in the Lords not long ago by Lord 'Ted' Willis for taking on the TV job with Aquarius, on the grounds that he should be devoting 'all his attention to the National Theatre. Heaven

knows what the noble Lord would have said had he known that Hall is also in demand as a director of television commercials.

Theatrical lame ducks

It is strongly rumoured that the mysterious Theatre Investment Fund, which has been in the air for a couple of years or so without getting off the drawing-board, is shortly to come into operation. This is a scheme whereby public money provided by the Arts Council — £100,000 of it — is to be invested in the productions of commercial mamagements. It is the Council's 'expectation' that they will actually make a profit on these investments — an absurd proposition in Waspe's view, since if there were any real likelihood of profitability, no reputable commercial management would have difficulty in recruiting private capital. Much likelier is that the investments will go down the drain and the TIF will once again be pleading for a topping-up from the public purse.

Arty avarice

I counted seven Rolls-Royces outside the headquarters of the British 'Antique Dealers' Association the other evening when members of the art and antique trade met for three long hours to discuss Christie's and Sotheby's greedy insistence on imposing an added 10 per cent commission on buyers in their auction sales. Naturally, no concern was expressed for private buyers and sellers, or indeed for the country's museums and galleries who will be the real losers, but the dealers decided to make a token gesture of opposition to the auctioneers' grasping innovation and a letter threatening 'combative action' has been sent to the auctioneers.