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The Royal Baccarat Scandal. November 2012


Guildburys were awarded a National Operatic and Drama Association accolade of excellence for this production.
Audience comments

Moira Clarke  “Show was absolutely brilliant – loved it. And unique finale in having to cast a vote”

Gordon Ayshford “Fantastic – a truly captivating plot brought to life by charismatic performances. The pace moved at a lick to cover the extensive scope and full dialogue of the complex main and sub-plots , then softened at the thoughtful, tense and emotional moments to draw the audience in. The scenes are each recollections from Sir William Gordon Cumming as he explains his past tribulations to his daughter in answer to her question as to why the room fell silent when she had revealed her maiden name in a society party. This is a sensitive treatment of an old man confiding for the first time and the story flowed seamlessly as one memory evoked another episode while the scandal unfolded. The audience’s perspective was moved on a see-saw journey seen alternately through the eyes of an offender and a victim. I felt truly privileged to have been in the audience for intimate and powerful and moving drama. The characters were real, the situations captivating and the conflicting emotions were expressed with dexterity.”

Alison Davey “Congratulations to all the cast of The Royal Baccarat Scandal. My husband and I really enjoyed the play. Great performances from everyone. I thought Nigel Dams performance of Sir William Gordon Cumming was amazing.

Margaret Fisher “A captivating experience, we all thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Sardines magazine review – 

‘The Royal Baccarat Scandal’ tells the true story of Sir William Gordon-Cumming and his role in what was also known as The Tranby Croft Scandal. The basic premise is that Sir William, a close friend of the Prince of Wales (who became Edward VII) took part in a game of Baccarat – a gambling game that was illegal in England – and was accused of cheating. Despite his repeated denial of any wrongdoing, he is persuaded to sign a pledge that he will never play cards again, in return for the matter to be hushed up.

The play is set 30 years after the scandal, with Sir William telling his daughter all about the events that led to his disgrace. In the role of Sir William, Nigel Dams gave a very powerful performance – no mean feat, given that he rarely left the stage. As his daughter (and narrator for the piece), Alison Nicol was superbly relaxed, engaging and a true joy to watch. Robert Sheppard, playing the Prince of Wales was every inch the royal philanderer. Other mentions should go to Ian Nichols (Sir Edward Clarke), Alan Arlington (Sir Charles Russell) and Derek Watts (Lieutenant-General Owen Williams) for excellent performances. In fact, I couldn’t fault any cast member at all.

This play is quite a challenging one to pull off and though long, it isn’t in any way dull or boring – if done right. Guildburys did get it right. The cast, crew and staging all came together to provide a very entertaining evening. Guildburys (and director Gilly Fick) have every reason to be very proud of this production. Well done indeed!!

The majority verdict of the audiences was taken by voting cards following the close of the play – click here to see the verdict

The papers are full of it and there’s enough celebrity gossip, scandal and adultery for a super injunction.

But this isn’t the 21st century – it is 1890 – and the story is based on fact. Social etiquette and acceptance is vital, honour is everything, concealing as it often does, blatant hypocrisy.

At the beginning of the play Edward, Prince of Wales is with one of his many mistresses in his dressing room …..

“What you’ve got to understand my dear is that everyone gossips about me, but it doesn’t matter as long as it doesn’t get into the papers.

Remember me to your husband. He’s such an understanding man.” 

The Prince is planning a visit to the Doncaster Races and receives an invitation to spend a few days at Tranby Croft, en route to the races. His close friend Sir William Gordon Cumming, an honourable member of the Guards and a member the Prince’s gambling circle is also a guest. Sir William shares the Prince’s twin passions for Baccarat and chasing other men’s wives, but the evening turns to disaster as he is accused of  swindling the Prince by cheating during a game of Baccarat – an illegal game as fraught with danger as adultery. His accusers are led by the jealous husband of his mistress and he is forced to sue for defamation; the outcome of the trial will have massive implications for all concerned.

Sir William’s life lies in tatters as he confronts his accusers; witness the events, join the judge and become the jury in the subsequent court case.

Will you find for Sir William or for his accusers?

The Electric Theatre, Guildford 21-24 November, 2012





Production photography Phill Griffith






Published on: November 19th, 2012