In this issue of the Bean Zine:

- The Fair Maid of the West (TLS)
- The Fair Maid of the West (Punch)
- Deathwatch (Plays & Players)

- Windprints (Monthly Film Bulletin)

Radio Times (May 11, 1996)

Film Review (April 1996)

Films & Filming (October 1986)


Times Literary Supplement
October 3, 1986
By John Pitcher

Thomas Heywood
The Fair Maid of the West
Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Thomas Heywood's "The Fair Maid of the West" is Elizabethan pulp theatre at
its most unexceptional, most unlewd and most unprovocative. Claims for its
social realism (the elephants' graveyard for any play) look rather thin if we
compare it with a good many scenes in Dekker, or with passages from the novels
and pamphlets of the period. Where Deloney catches at (or invents) the speech
manners of one gentle craft or another, or Nashe apes this or that snobbish
pedantry, Heywood gives us characters and language which are strangely unrooted
in the circumstances and settings he proposes. The details and personalities
are all there - from roaring boys to kitchen maids, from a sea fight with the
Spanish to stout English hearts triumphing over barbarous heathens - and yet
none of this, in its peculiarity, fills out the play, or gives it something
stubbornly resistant (and therefore interesting) to later readings.
"The Fair Maid of the West" was written in two parts, separated by as much
as thirty years, but what is remarkable is how little difference there is in the
quality of writing between the parts. Across the span of time from, say,
"Hamlet" to "The Changeling", Heywood managed to keep his own verse and prose at
the same level of well-phrased and slightly pressureless politeness. Even his
jealous and voluptuous Queen of Fez (in Part Two) keeps an odd poise and
decorum: "I should doubt/I were a perfect woman, but degenerate/From mine own
sex if I should suffer this."

Faced with a certain inexpressiveness in its language, Trevor Nunn has
chosen to produce the play as an Elizabethan romp. He re-casts the two parts
into one (moving all the Fez scenes so that they follow the interval), prunes
various speeches and episodes, and adds pseudo-Elizabethan songs at several
points. The production begins amid pewter mugs, ropes, lanterns, canvas and
tackle (the Swan's long, protruding stage doubles very well as tavern and
palace, long-boat and ship's deck), and then in comes a helmeted Prologue,
offering first the opening lines to "Henry V", and then, after a shower of buns
and catcalls from the audience, those to "Troilus and Cressida". But no,
everyone cries, we want Bess the Fair Maid, not gentle Mr. Shakespeare yet
again, and so, with just a glimmer from Olivier's introduction to his film
"Henry V", things get moving. Those who are familiar with the Heywood canon
(extending him into well over 200 plays) will not need a start, but others

For them, then: Bess Bridges, the Plymouth barmaid, loves Spencer the
soldier and toff (not a lord, but bags of money), and he loves her (not a whore,
but everyone's darling). But a tetchy swordsman insults Fair Bess, Spencer
kills him, and goes on the run, joining our general (Lord Essex) in the English
victory in the Azores. Off to another pub goes Bess, faithfully waiting for
Spencer, and there encounters bully-boy Roughman, and tames him, and how. News
that Spencer is dead (no, he's not really dead) arrives to devastate our
heroine, so she fits out a ship named The Negro, black sails to tell of her

The plot goes on like this for a couple of hours, but eventually Bess and
her crew arrive in the court of the King of Fez, where, after a few scenes which
Heywood probably stole from some romance (they include a bed trick which brings
the lecherous king back to his wife's arms), Spencer marries the unstoppable
Bess. It is not unfair to Heywood to conclude that none of this is the most
promising material for a Royal Shakespeare Company revival, and so Nunn's
achievement - to have made the play watchable, and funny, and to have filled
some of the holes where the poetry might be - is impressive. He is fortunate of
course to have in the cast one of the best theatre clowns, Joe Melia playing the
king, whose own jokes - in delivery, even if he didn't write them - are funnier
than most of Heywood's. (T.S. Eliot was surely right about this: Heywood does
not have an acute sense of humour, and his comic moments can be hamfistedly
crude). The cast as a whole perform together with a sprightliness in speech,
tempo and grouping which has been ebbing a little in some other of the RSC
houses. Individual playing is excellent: Pete Postlethwaite as Roughman, for
example, handles very well a part which seems a gift but one which is tricky to
sustain without outpistoling Pistol.

But in all what has been salvaged here, saving Heywood from himself on
occasions, must be attributed to Nunn. His editing, directing and imagining are
everywhere - from the simplest stage business (Bess led in procession around the
theatre gangways, preceded by a set of bells which ensures that she is never out
of the audience's presence) to the songs about an Englishwoman's fidelity and
fortitude, which, in their low-key poignancy, help to offset some of the over-
ripe jingoism about Elizabeth, England's virgin queen.

There is only one area of the play to which Nunn appears to have paid
little attention, and that is (put simply) the theme of needless cruelty. The
first audiences for "The Fair Maid" relished the brutalities of cock fighting
and whipping bears and bulls and setting dogs on them, so we must be careful not
to invent an authorial repugnance for anything we now regard as maliciously
cruel. All the same, Roughman's beating of the kitchen-maid and servants, and
the savagery of the bar-room sword fights, and the threats of torture from the
Spanish captain (whose "bolts and engines" will make a man gentler), and the
capricious nastiness at the court of Fez, may add up to something more
unsettling in the text (even if it is not fully realized) than this good-
humoured production can allow.

October 1, 1986
By Giles Gordon

Trevor Nunn has returned to Stratford to direct the fourth and final play
in his handsome "Swan's" triumphant first season. His production of
Shakespeare's journeyman playwright contemporary, Thomas Heywood's "The Fair
Maid of the West" establishes the theatre as the most exciting new space in

Heywood wrote a sequel to the original "Fair Maid". The first play, from
internal political references, was probably written about 1599. "Fair Maid Two"
was put on the boards thirty years later. The first script (Heywood today would,
most likely, write good-natured soap opera) is the pleasing tale of Bess
Bridges, Plymouth barmaid of integrity, and of her adventures: Joan Littlewood
might have devised the scenario, and the rumbustious performances Mr Nunn
manages to elicit from his energetic cast.

In "Fair Maid Two", Bess in britches goes on a sea voyage and ends up
reunited with her lover, Spencer (Sean Bean), whom she'd believed killed in a
duel years before. They meet up, improbably, at the court of King Mullisheg of
Morocco (Joe Melia). The sequel is worthy, moralistic and absurd, in keeping
with an England where the Puritans were about to close down the theatres; and
Heywood was no longer a young man.

Mr Nunn has conflated the two plays, retaining much of the first, thus
allowing the motley characters to establish and assert themselves. Pete
Postlethwaite gives a terrific performance as the coward-become-hero, Roughman,
first bettered by Bess in drag, posing as her non-existent brother. Imelda
Staunton plays Bess fairly straight, and all the better for that. The character
is Heywood's middle-class homage to his adored Virgin Queen. Part Two becomes
almost The Mullisheg Show with Mr Melia camping it up in his inimitable,
terribly intelligent way. His stooge is the fulminating and inscrutable Togo
Igawa as Bashaw Alcade, a close relative of Cato in The Pink Panther.
I've rarely sat in a theatre where the audience has had such a good time.
The show (and it is that, rather than simply a revival of two rarities) could be
as successful as "Nicholas Nickleby". John Napier's set - embracing taverns,
ships, the Azores and Morocco, with lanterns hanging from the roof - contributes
richly to the atmosphere. There are songs of the sweet ballad sort, and cod-
swashbuckling fights choreographed by the ever-inventive Malcolm Ranson. Every
level of the Swan Theatre is used - an elderly actor even hurtles from top to
bottom on a swinging rope.

There is a cannon, that is meant to fire twice. At the first preview it
failed twice and thus received the evening's loudest laugh. I hope Mr Nunn has
kept that in. He, shrewd in these matters, is no doubt right to present the
plays substantially as a jape, the Elizabethan equivalent of a "Carry On" film.

Birmingham Repertory Studio
By David Ian Rabey
March 1985

By Jean Genet, in a new translation by Nigel Williams. A Foco Novo production in
association with Birmingham Rep Studio. Directed by Roland Rees. Designed by
Andrea Montag. Lighting by Richard Moffatt. Music by Andrew Dickson. First
performance: 7 February 1985.

Eyetie, Vincenzo Ricotta; Lederer, Sean Bean; Mackie, Jimmy Chisholm; Warder,
Gary Lilburn.

At first the combination of Nigel Williams and Jean Genet sounds
incongruous; the skilled creator of viciously verbal underdog tearaways
translating the stylishly amoral Artaudian offender. Like Billy Bragg writing
songs for Quentin Crisp. However, "Deathwatch" is early Genet, less baroque than
later works, based on his criminal youth and described by the director as "not a
social documentary but a poetic recreation of the prison experience'.
Williams's new version strips the play of the fey awkwardness which now
seems to pervade the 1950's translation. The main characters' names - once Green
Eyes, Maurice and Lefranc - are chopped into Eyetie, Mackie and Lederer, as
befits a prowling cockney-Italian, a chirpy mischievous Scot, and a leering,
lantern-jawed Northerner. They comprise a triangle of antagonism amongst cast-
iron catwalks, spotlights and the sound of clanking metal bolts. As well as
shunting the prison's noisy machinery, the Warden paces watching the prisoners'
quarrels, like a voyeur (hints of "Christie in Love") or even manipulator,
pulling levers and training follow-spots on excited inmates in a way that
exacerbates passions more than quells them. Roland Rees's firm direction is
sensitive to both the engulfing laboratory maze atmosphere and the intense
individual dramas it contains. Once settled to a pace, Vincenzo Ricotta's Eyetie
has heavy authority; the physicality invested in his murder monologue made him a
psycho-dervish, finally riveting an unaccountably giggly first-night audience.
Jimmy Chisholm gives Mackie the air of corrupted choirboy, and Sean Bean as
Lederer builds up a more intellectual, excluded character, alternately lionizing
and sneering from behind his spectacles, though lacking the menace implicit in
his opening and closing outbursts.

The updated dialogue has drive - Williams continuing the fine sense of male
competitiveness and antagonistic needling shown in his own plays - even if the
basic situation is more redolent of, dare I say it, Pinter, especially when the
territorial and sexual imperatives merge and the unseen Snowy is discussed. The
prisoners want independence but need the relief of vicarious living, telling
stories, playing games, identifying with others or mythologizing one's self.
They end polarized and uncomprehending; Eyetie's denunciation of Lederer seems
too reductive of his tangled impulses. "Deathwatch" weaves an intriguing web out
of the seductiveness of violence, voyeurism and machismo, but never consolidates
any of its various directions in the way subsequent drama has. Beyond Foco
Novo's fine production I imagined myself watching the work of a young unknown
playwright, whom I would probably have advised to experiment further with
documentary and poeticization with a view to creating something to surpass, on
its own terms, "The Dumb Waiter", "Softcops" or even "Class Enemy".



James Leahy
Monthly Film Bulletin
September 1990

Anton Van Heerden, an anglicised Afrikaner working as a newsreel cameraman
in Johannesburg, is sent to southern Namibia to help a British journalist,
Charles Rutherford, cover the story of Nhadiep, who has committed a series of
murders of Nama farm labourers. The Nama believe Nhadiep has magical powers and
is indestructible. During a barbecue party, Anton is challenged by a farmer,
Henning, about not making a film about his own people, the Afrikaners. Nhadiep
visits a family living on Henning's farm. He approaches a woman, Marta, with a
baby, but is struck down by Marta's father and angrily shoots through the hut
roof. He has fled before the whites reach the farm, but Pieterse, a coloured
journalist, tells Anton that the incident was all to do with the baby. Anton
films Henning talking to Marta; the farmer is furious, and orders him off his
land at rifle-point. Nhadiep is spotted, but eludes his pursuers. Pieterse
suggests that Nhadiep may be in the paid service of a white, as the farms
abandoned by terrified labourers are being bought up cheaply. Anton suspects
Henning, who has made several such purchases, and he and a reluctant Charles
later drive out to Henning's place where Anton finds a file of cuttings about
Nhadiep's killings, some sets of baby clothes, and his aged, silent mother.
Charles and Anton argue over their perception of the 'truth' of the story. Anton
returns to Henning's farm to interview Marta (driven by the reference to a woman
who might have been an "excellent wife" in one of the poems by Nhadiep which
have been given him by the police sergeant Du Plessis), and he sees the baby,
which appears almost white. Henning finds him and they fight, until Nhadiep
intervenes, striking Henning down with his rifle. Du Plessis arrives and in the
confusion Nhadiep is wounded; Henning shoots him down and, before Du Plessis can
intervene, shoots the face from his body. The Nama community buries Nhadiep with
honour in recognition of his resistance to the colonials, but some believe the
faceless corpse belongs to someone else and that they are being tricked to make
them return to work the farms. The sight of an apparently white child at the
funeral prompts Anton to return to Henning's farm, as he thinks Marta and the
baby may be in danger. They have fled to the mountains, and Henning has wrecked
their hut. Henning protests his good intentions, that he lured Nhadiep from the
hills in an attempt to demonstrate that the latter had no special powers. The
two men fight, but when he has Anton at his mercy Henning turns away, declaring
that Afrikaners must stick together. Two shots ring out and Henning falls dead,
but there is no sign of his killer.

Anton Van Heerden is originally sent to Namibia because his editor hopes
that, during his absence, the police will lose interest in some controversial
news footage he has shot in Soweto. This has already earned him a critical
rebuke from a black colleague because it has put people at risk, and because it
only tells part of the story, showing the violence of black against black but
not why that violence occured. Thus, the exact details of landowner Henning's
relationship to the fugitive Nhadiep are perhaps less important to the thematic
argument of "Windprints" than they are to Anton, who is attempting to dig
deeper, to tell a complete story. What is important is the fact that some whites
have been profiting from the murders at the expense of the apparently expendable
Nama victims, driven once again from the land by violence. It is this that links
the story about an individual mass-murderer, set in 1982 and based on fact, to
the pre-credits capsule history of Namibia, from the German colonisation in 1884
to independence in 1989.

The film is structured as a parable about apartheid, in which the confused
and exhausted liberal is left to face the future after the death of his
conservative and authoritarian fellow Afrikaner, a man who has boasted he does
with his people what he likes. Within this framework, various incidents and
attitudes that at first seem mere background take on a more central meaning.
There is the MP, for example, seeking to persuade the journalists that Nhadiep
is not a product of apartheid. There is the strict colour bar operated by the
family which keeps the hotel: Joey, the Nama interpreter, who is so conditioned
by his society that he is quite unable to accede to Anton's request not to call
him 'baas', is not allowed to bring Anton's cases through the front door; the
coloured Pieterse can't drink with his friends and fellow journalists in the
bar. Similarly, the Namas show remarkable willingness to forgive Nhadiep's
crimes against them. As well as being a killer of his own people, he is a symbol
of resistance. As one white farmer says at the barbecue, Nhadiep has been
defying all the white security forces in the south, where people were once so
confident that they could take care of the 'terrorists' (SWAPO freedom fighters)
if they came down from the north. Moreover, one of the Nama community leaders
speculates that Nhadiep may be hitting out at his own people in pain and anger
at their historic defeats.

It is striking that two recent films of the new South African cinema, this
and Darryl Roodt's "Jobman", feature a violent non-white protagonist. The
coloured Jobman is literally dumb; the black Nhadiep speaks only through his
poems. While the construction of the narrative in each case allows for dramatic
action and confrontation, there is the implication that the bewildered white
protagonists (and audience) are being confronted with a silent, elemental force
that disturbs the equilibrium of their society. Indeed, there is the suggestion
here that Nhadiep in some sense represents the historic forces that will sweep
away that society and its injustice. Yet such a symbolic force does not do
justice to the clear and compelling articulacy of the liberation struggle of the
non-whites of South Africa, coloured, black or Asian. In this sense,
"Windprints", though clearly more 'cinematic', and a product of far greater
financial and technical resources, is possibly something of a step back
compared, say, to "The Native Who Caused All the Trouble", a filmed stage play
based on a script by David Wicht. There, though the 'native' scorns the legal
and political discourse of the modern state, his resistance clearly articulates
his motivation: his bond with the land of his ancestors. It seems that the
film-makers of the new South Africa have yet to come to terms with the ways in
which movie genres themselves distort social and psychological complexity.



THE ANDREW DUNCAN INTERVIEW is now on The Compleat's Main Features

Sean Bean Reveals his Favourite Films to Anwar Brett

In the gallery of sporting movies to have hit the screen in the last
hundred years few have managed to sum up the power and the glory of soccer.
While you can throw a baseball on any Hollywood studio lot and knock over a
stack of baseball scripts, the world's most popular sport remains woefully under

"When Saturday Comes" may or may not redress that balance, though wisely it
seeks to play out a boys' (or these days girls') own fantasy. It's "Rocky"
meets "42nd Street", as a young man - a pub team plodder - is given an
unexpected chance to realize his full sporting potential and play for his
hometown club, Sheffield United.

It may all seem really far fetched, except for the fact that the film's
star, Sean Bean, underwent a similar fulfilment of a boyhood dream and most
certainly echoed the passion of his character for 'the Blades'. This is the
man, after all, who has '100% Blade' tattooed on his arm.

He is also the man whose professional reputation has been forged by films
like "Patriot Games", "The Field" and "GoldenEye" as well as television work on
such prestige productions as "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and the ongoing
adventures of "Sharpe".

But such was his excitement at the press launch for "GoldenEye" - in that
disused Rolls Royce factory near Watford, last January - his ever present grin
beamed brighter than the popping flashbulbs at the prospect of the imminent
journey north to United's Bramall Lane ground, where he was in the midst of

"It's a great part to be able to play and do something that was so close to
home, quite literally," he enthuses. "It was a great feeling to be able to go
up there and do something. Playing Jimmy Muir was like a dream part for me."
If, like so many young men, Sean Bean's youth was occupied with dreams of a
footballing career, he still found time for the cinema. His choices certainly
proved intriguing, but not entirely surprising given his background.

"The first film I thought of was 'Kes'," he explains, "which is set in an
area close to where I grew up. I don't think it made me want to act, I was only
about 12 when it came out I think but I've seen it since and it's superb. I
loved seeing Brian Glover when he thinks he's Bobby Charlton - I could watch it
over and over, and my kids like it too.

"'This Sporting Life' is another choice, mainly because I like Richard
Harris. And I'd choose 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' with Albert Finney.
I just liked the story, all those little details: the love story, the fact that
he couldn't really get it together and didn't want to get shoved into something
he didn't want. I suppose actors like Finney, Harris and Peter O'Toole were
heroes of mine while I was growing up.

"And then there's 'Apocalypse Now', which was just brilliant, and 'Raging
Bull'. I like Robert De Niro, and films about boxing. It has a gritty reality,
and that's not the only similarity with 'When Saturday Comes'. Both are about
working class blokes who get their chance, blow it and then finally make a

(ed. D. McGillivray)

Please tell me as much as possible about Sean Bean. How tall is he? Is he
married? (Ms. K.S., Kinross, Scotland.)

He was born in Sheffield, Yorks., in 1960 and, on leaving school, worked as a
welder for four years. Changing his mind about his career, he went to art
college then to the Rotherham Community Arts Centre, where he took the Arts
Foundation Course before switching to drama. He completed his studies at
London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His professional debut was as Tybalt in
"Romeo and Juliet" at Newbury. He then spent a season at the Citizens' theatre
in Glasgow. His TV appearances include "Titus Andronicus" and "Joey and Spansky"
for the BBC and "Samson and Delilah" for Channel 4. His only films have been the
1984 TV movie "Winter Flight" and the current cinema release "Caravaggio". He is
now a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon and will
remain there until next March. So far his roles have been Romeo in "Romeo and
Juliet" and Spencer in "The Fair Maid of the West". He is 5'11". To ascertain
his marital status I rang his agent. "That's none of your business!", he
exploded. "I don't know! Are you married?" Well, pardon me for living. (Mr Bean
is unmarried).