Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell opens soon at playhouse

The curtain is set to go up on the dark comedy Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, at the Prospect Playhouse, Thursday, 18 May.

The play, which is being put on by the Cayman Drama Society, is based on the life and writings of real-life columnist Jeffery Bernard and is written by good friend Keith Waterhouse.

Penny Phillips, the play’s director and CDS committee member, said: ‘Jeffery Bernard is a fascinating character and the play is particularly poignant as it was written when he was still alive.

‘It was suggested to me by an overseas friend who had seen it performed in London. Also, a couple of years prior to hurricane Ivan, the Cayman Drama Society had put on a play by the same playwright which was incredibly successful, so I am confident that it will be a success.’

Bernard will be played by Alan Hall, chairman of the CDS. Other cast members are Valerie Cottier, Caroline Neale, Rick Glass and Brad Renford who each play multiple roles.

Rehearsals have been taking place for the past month and Mrs Phillips is pleased with how the cast have adapted to having to play numerous characters.

She explained that the play is for a mature audience due to its strong language, something which Ms Phillips chose not to edit.

‘I decided not to tone down the language as he is not a fictitious character. Changing the language would mean that he is not portrayed accurately and I believe that the context in which it’s said means that it is not too offensive. On the whole people are broadminded.’

Bernard, 1932 to 1997, was a fervent alcoholic, womaniser and gambler. A writer for The Spectator, a UK based magazine, his column ‘Low Life’, which began in 1978, detailed his many, often alcoholic, escapades.

The title of the play, shown for the first time in 1989 when Bernard was still alive, is, Ms Phillips said, based on the euphemism used by The Spectator when Bernard was incapable of writing his column.

The play is set in Bernard’s favourite pub, The Coach and Horses in Soho, London.

Having passed out in the pub he awakes to find himself alone and in the dark. Unable to contact the landlord, Bernard is resigned to spending the rest of the night with a bottle of vodka and an endless chain of cigarettes.

During this time he narrates a story of hilarious anecdotes and a life devoted to stylish self-destruction through a series of flashbacks, bringing to life characters which have populated Bernard’s world.

Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell opens 18 May and runs until 3 June. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm. Tickets cost $15. No one under the age of 18 will be allowed. Call the box-office on 949-5054, or visit www.caymandrama.org.ky.