The Rep’s Christmas offering of 1971 was the delightful comedy, She Stoops To Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith. The action of She Stoops to Conquer is largely confined to a night and a day in Squire Hardcastle’s somewhat dilapidated country house: Young Marlow, on his way there to meet the bride his father has chosen for him, loses his way and arrives at the house assuming it is an inn. The prospect of meeting the genteel Miss Hardcastle terrifies the diffident youngster; but the serving-girl Kate – in fact, Miss Hardcastle, who chooses not to clarify the misunderstanding – immediately catches his fancy and cannot complain of a lack of ardour in her well-born suitor. After a series of trifling confusions and the inevitable eavesdropping-from-behind-a-screen, all is resolved.
The play, Directed by Peter Legge, began rehearsal with only the principal characters cast. James Masters was playing the romantic lead and his brother, Richard, came along to a few rehearsals to watch.
At the last moment, Richard was persuaded to take on a minor role …so much so that the programme had already been sent to the printer. Peter Legge adopted the practice which he claimed was usual in professional theatre; he inserted the name WALTER PLINGE in the empty space in the programme.
So Richard Masters will forever be affectionately know by that name in the history of the REP!
As a further complication, Richard’s arrival in the cast was so late that he suddenly discovered that he could not be available for every performance, so Peter Croft, another bit part player, had to learn his part and go on for one performance as both Peter Croft and WALTER PLINGE – which was no mean feat as Richard’s character and Peter’s were both on stage at the same time…
And, 50 years on, Richard Masters once more has a cameo role – playing the butler in Spiders Web – at the Rep 8th to 12th February 2022