Beyond the Fringe on DVD
eyond The Fringe was the famous revue, starring Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore, that opened in 1960 and changed the face of British comedy. Though I am very familiar with it, having written about it in one of my books and edited the text of it for publication, I had never actually seen it (I could have - I was in London at the time, but I didn't).
So I was delighted to discover that a television recording of it was available on DVD (though, annoyingly, only in America). The DVD case claims that the recording was made in 1964, but actually it must have been 1963. In 1962 the team went on a tour of America (the show continued in London with a substitute cast) for a year, after which Jonathan Miller stopped performing on stage and joined the BBC 'Omnibus' TV documentary team.
Evidently this performance (which is video rather than film) was made when they returned from America in the hope of a TV broadcast, though in fact it was never transmitted and has long been thought lost. The performance was evidently mounted in a theatre specially for television, judging by the camerawork. The quality is rather scruffy - black-and-white, of course, and with a lot of problems from the low light level and rather fuzzy.
It's fascinating to see the visual side of the performances, which adds considerably to the familiar dialogue. The show is more or less the American version, which had several new sketches: and a few of the original sketches have been removed, particularly Cook's Harold MacMillan monologue (MacMillan was no longer Prime Minister by this time). It's an absolutely vital document of one of the funniest stage shows ever: I know much of it almost word for word and it still had me falling about.
You can buy it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (Amazon partnership sellers) .
IMPORTANT: if you decide to buy this you will need a Region 1-capable DVD player.
Posted: Sat - July 1, 2006 at 07:20 AM by Roger Wilmut
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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM