Privates on Parade



  • A play (with music) by Peter Nichols, first performedin 1977 by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre, London.Denis Quilley won the Society of West End TheatresAward for Best comedy Performance as the outrageously camp captainwith a song-and-dance unit of soldiers. In a drag skit, he impersonatedMarlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda, and Vera Lynn. The US director CharlesMarowitz noted how Quilley restrained himself from going over thetop, "producing instead a delicately controlled performancewhich perfectly balances comment and caricature". Therewas a much acclaimed revival at the Donmar Warehouse in 2001.

    Set in Malaya a few years after World War II, the story centresupon the activities of SADUSEA (Song and Dance Unit South East Asia).Apart from the captain, Terri Dennis, the wandering troupe includesthe unscrupulous Sergeant-Major Reg Drummond, the good-natured CorporalLen Bonny, and the beautiful Anglo-Indian Sylvia Morgan. In the plotthe racketeer Reg fakes his own murder in order to evade a crackdownon his criminal activities. One performance by the troupe ends ina shoot-out during which Len dies and a flight-sergeant is crippled.The action is interspersed with lively songs and skits.