Simon Gray classic brought to the stage by the Funtington Players

If you are expecting a rip-roaring, hilarious comedy, think again, says director Alan Copsey.

Sunday, 18th November 2018, 7:05 am
Alan Brown & Tony Clark in rehearsal Quartermaine's Terms. Pic by Rosey Purchase.
Alan Brown & Tony Clark in rehearsal Quartermaine's Terms. Pic by Rosey Purchase.

Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray, the latest production from the Funtington Players, will certainly make you laugh. But it is also a poignant and rather serious piece, Alan says. And also a great play.

It will be performed at West Ashling Village Hall from November 27-December 1 with tickets available from

“I first saw it many years ago at the Theatre Royal in Brighton with Edward Fox playing the lead. Edward Fox played the lead in the first performances. It was written in 1981 by Simon Gray, and it is a great script. He wrote some great plays, but I think this is his best-known play. He had a long association with Harold Pinter, and Pinter directed a lot of his plays.

“When I saw it, I thought it was a great play and put it on a list of plays that I would like to be involved with, either to direct or to act. It was about 2013 when it was revived in the West End with Rowan Atkinson playing the main part. It had rave reviews. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it, but it brought it back to my mind.

“It is set in the 1960s in a Cambridge language school teaching English to foreigners.

“It has seven characters and they are teachers at the school and the principal, and it is about their interrelationships. What makes it a great play is that it is an amusing social comedy, but it is also quite a serious play.

“The themes are loneliness, and it is quite a melancholic play.

“Quartermaine is a profoundly shy and lonely bachelor. He seems to have no friends or acquaintances apart from the teachers who teach there, but they all have their own problems and difficulties either marital problems or problems with their children or one of them has problems with an aged mother.

“It is quite English as a play. It demonstrates a lot of English characteristics. They are teaching English to Japanese and Bulgarians and Swiss people and so on, and they are also teaching them English values, but the odd thing is that they don’t really connect with each other or anybody else emotionally, which is thought to be quite an English thing. It is extremely touching.

“It is brilliant writing, and the parts are parts that actors would die for. They are really strong parts. It is great stuff to act.

As for directing it, the challenges are interesting too: “There is very little action. It is all dependent on the actors and the script. You can’t polish it up with music and lighting. It is all down to Simon Gray’s words and the way that they are delivered. The actors have got to really get inside these characters, and I am pleased to say that the cast is really super. I have got some really, really good actors.

“I love directing. I have done a fair bit of acting, but I love the challenge of trying to put it all together. I think it would be quite difficult to direct if you have not done some acting.

“I had done quite a lot of acting, and I thought I would give directing a go. Ultimately I think there is more satisfaction to directing – apart from the week of the play when you just have to hand it over to the actors!

“With directing, I think you have just got to try to do what is right for the play. I am a fairly easy-going personality, and I tend to be on the actors’ side. I don’t give a lot of vigorous notes.”