Charley’s Aunt (2012)

Synopsis The Production Photographs Reviews


Charley’s rich Aunt, Donna Lucia, is visiting from Brazil and the timing couldn’t be better. Her presence as a chaperone will allow him and his friend Jack to ask their respective true loves, Amy and Kitty, for their hands in marriage. But time is ticking, so where is Charley’s Aunt? On learning she will be delayed by several days, they blackmail their eccentric friend, Lord Fancourt Babberley, to save their romantic plans and pose as Donna Lucia….and then Charley’s real Aunt arrives…

Text from Menier Chocolate Factory

It’s Oxford, in the early 1890s. Lovestruck undergraduates Jack and Charley are planning to invite their girlfriends, Kitty and Amy to lunch. The imminent arrival of Charley’s wealthy aunt, Donna Lucia from Brazil (where the nuts come from), provides the boys with the perfect chaperone. But when Donna is delayed, scuppering their romantic plans, Jack blackmails fellow student, Lord Fancourt Babberley, into impersonating Charley’s Aunt. When Charley’s REAL aunt unexpectedly appears the uproar begins…

Brandon Thomas’s comedy, with its side-splitting mix of chases, scenes of mistaken identity, conversations at crossed purposes and wildly improbable coincidences, is one of the most entertaining farces of all time. When Charley’s Aunt opened in 1892 it broke all box office records and it has been a perennial favourite ever since.

Text: Theatre Royal Bath

Announcements: Complete Casting for Menier Chocolate Factory’s Charley’s Aunt.

The Production

Written in 1892, Charley’s Aunt broke all records for play runs at the time when the original production ran for 1466 performances. The play was hugely successful, quickly moving to Broadway and many other countries. The play has been adapted for a number of film versions, most notably in 1941 featuring Jack Benny in the principal role.

Text from

Produced at the Royalty Theatre, London, on 21 December, 1892; Charley’s Aunt later transferred to the Globe Theatre. It’s London run was 4 years!

Brandon Thomas originally played Sir Francis.

Text from Thomas, B., n.d., Charley’s Aunt. A Play in Three Acts by Brandon Thomas,
Samuel French Limited: London

Charley’s Aunt is a play in three acts. Sessions were approximately two hours and 30 minutes, with two 15 minute intervals. Tickets were £17.50 to £33.50, sold through all outlets. Tickets were sold out before the end of the run in London.

Menier Chocolate Factory
20 September – 10 November, 2012
Previews: 20 – 23 September, 2012
Press Night: 1 October, 2012

Tuesday to Saturday, 8pm
Saturday and Sunday, 3:30pm

Sunday 30 Sept, 8pm
Monday 1 Oct, 8pm

No performances
Tuesday 25 Sept
Tuesday 2 Oct

Theatre Royal Bath

Theatre Royal, Bath, Main House

12 – 17 November, 2012
Monday – Wednesday 7.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8.00pm
Matinees Wednesday & Saturday 2.30pm

Cast and Creataives:

Steven Pacey was perfectly cast as Colonel Sir Francis. This is Brandon Thomas’ description of the character:

“COLONEL SIR FRANCIS CHESNEY, BART., late Indian Service. Tall, good-looking, smart in appearance and manner, wears a small military moustache, actually fifty-one, but looking nearer forty, very smart, cheery and young in manner“. (p. 28)

Text from Thomas, B., n.d., Charley’s Aunt. A Play in Three Acts by Brandon Thomas,
Samuel French Limited: London
Jane Asher Donna Lucia
Benjamin Askew Charley
Ellie Bevan Amy
Charlie Clemmow Ela
Matthew Horne Fancourt Babberley
Charles Kay Brassett
Norman Pace Spettigue
Steven Pacey Colonel Sir Francis Chesney
Dominic Tighe Jack Chesney
Leah Whitaker Kitty
Writer Brandon Thomas
Director Ian Talbot
Designer Paul Fransworth
Lighting Design Jason Taylor
Sound Design David Oglivy


Space dictates that we have only included photos featuring Steven Pacey.

Rehearsal Photographs:

An interview with Jane Asher in The Lady Magazine included a rehearsal photograph for Charley’s Aunt featuring Steven Pacey.

Reahearsal for Charley’s Aunt. Leah Whittaker, Jane Asher and Steven Pacey
Photo: uncredited, from The Lady Magazine


Charleys Aunt Brochure

Reahearsal for Charley’s Aunt. Norman Pace, Steven Pacey, Matthew Horne, Lee Whittaker and Jane Asher.
Photo: uncredited, probably from Charley’s Aunt program.


Photo from Charley's Aunt Program

Rehearsal Photo, uncredited, probably from Charley’s Aunt program.
The Real Chrisparkle

Production Photographs:

Jane Hobson - Kiss

Photo © Jane Hobson

Jane Hobson - Proposal

Photo © Jane Hobson

Elliott Franks

Photo © Elliott Franks

All the Photographs are copyright, but available for purchase for private use. Just click on the link to go to the photographer’s website.

Press Night Photographs:

Dan Wooler, at What’s On Stage

Dan Wooler, at What’s On Stage

All the Photographs are copyright, but available for purchase for private use. Just click on the links under the photographs to go to the photographer’s website.


Professional Reviews:

The finest of the oldies’ performances, though, is from Steven Pacey as the aunt’s old flame Sir Francis Chesney. Far from being crusty, Pacey’s Sir Francis is as jovial and animated as a middle-aged Bertie Wooster, appropriately enough for an actor who played that role …

Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times

There is strong support, too … from Steven Pacey as a frisky old soldier with ramrod back and waxed moustache.

Michael Billington, The Guardian

Steven Pacey’s wonderfully crisp and practical Sir Francis Chesney …

Mark Shenton, The Stage

Steven Pacey is spot-on as a crusty old colonel in desperate search of a rich wife and “a rattling good spanking brandy and soda”.

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

… although it may be invidious to pick one other individual out for special mention, there is marvellous scene stealing by Steven Pacey as Francis Chesney, who approaches courtship of Charley’s Aunt as a military operation, steeling himself to make the ultimate sacrifice to secure his son’s future.

David Balcombe, One Stop Arts

… enjoyable support comes from Steven Pacey and Jane Asher, whose amorous entanglement is a grown-up version of the younger characters’ fragile intrigue.

Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard

Steven Pacey, all military bluster as Jack’s father, surpasses [the passe poshness only found onstage] to manage genuine laughs.

Matt Trueman, What’s On Stage

… Steven Pacey gets some of the biggest laughs as the cash-strapped Sir Francis Chesney, especially when he steels himself to woo the disguised Babbs for the sake of her fortune.

Julie Carpenter, Express

Steven Pacey pretty much carries the second act as Jack’s stiff-upper-lipped old soldier father.

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out London

Steven Pacey works marvels as Jack’s father with some great comic touches …

Edward Lukes, The London Magazine

Steven Pacey is outstanding as Colonel Sir Francis Chesney.

Michael Coveney, What’s On Stage.

Steven Pacey, whose Colonel Sir Francis Chesney was the most glorious piece of comedic acting of the evening. His stiff upper lip in the second act as he pursued Donna Lucia for the sake of his son was the funniest thing I have seen this year.

Ben Milson, Plays to See

Steven Pacey upright and military as a concerned father.

Alan King, The Bristol Post

Steven Pacey is perfect as Jack’s dashing old dad.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail Online
25 September West End Whingers West End Whingers ***
1 October One Stop Arts David Balcombe *****
2 October The Telegraph Charles Spencer ****
2 October Financial Times Ian Shuttleworth ***
2 October The Independent Emily Jupp ***
2 October London Evening Standard Henry Hitchings ****
2 October The Guardian Michael Billington ***
2 October The Stage Mark Shenton not rated
2 October What’s On Stage Matt Trueman **
2 October Huffington Post Matthew Tucker ***
2 October The Times Libby Purvis ****
2 October Time Out London Andrzej Lukowski ****
2 October The London Magazine Edward Lukes not rated
3 October Bruce Dessau ****
4 October Express Julie Carpenter ****
4 October Plays to See Ben Milson ****
22 October What’s On Stage Michael Coveney not rated
2 November Daily Mail Online Quentin Letts ****
12 November
Listmania Bath Jackie Chappell not rated
12 November
What’s On Stage Gill Kirk **
13 November
ChronReviews Christopher Hansford not rated
14 November
The Bristol Post Alan King *** 1/2
undated The British Theatre Guide Philip Fisher not rated
undated Theatreworld Internet Magazine Philip Fisher Highly
undated “>TheatreGuideLondon Gerald Berkowitz not rated
undated Exeunt Magazine Alice Saville ***

Social Media and BLOG Reviews:

“Stand-out performance was Steven Pacey. He was funny, sweet and believable as father of one of the young suitors.”

Jonathan Green, overyourhead BLOG

Steven Pacey makes a strong impact as Sir Francis, full of vitality and spark, absolutely the old Indian Colonel and really relishing his lines. “That’s not the way an old soldier makes love” brought the house down.

The Real Chrisparkle

Much more animated is a superb and deadpan Steven Pacey, who does wonders as Chesney’s well-adjusted father. Willing to marry the fake Charley’s Aunt in order to restore the family’s finances, Pacey’s elder Chesney pauses to think about the prospect of consummation, a thought that sends his body into a convulsion of revulsion. It’s the kind of performance that you just wouldn’t get in an amateur dramatics performance.

John Nathan, Theatre News Online

The performances of the whole cast seemed to be carried by Mathew Horne and particularly Steven Pacey …

Peter Meacock, Guide2Bath

Steven Pacey’s posh old colonel in desperate need of a rich wife … stunning performances.

Blanche Marvin’s, BLOG
30 September What’s On Stage “>Reader Reviews Sandra B *****
1 October “>overyourhead BLOG Jonathan Green not rated
7 October “>A Younger Theatre Lucy Cave not rated
7 October “>The Real Chrisparkle not rated
13 November
“>Guide2Bath Peter Meacock not rated
undated “>Theatre News Online John Nathan not rated
undated London Theatreviews BLOG Blanche Marvin ****
29 January, 2013 “>Horizon

Saba not rated

Bookmark and Share

Please note: The term Menier Chocolate Factory as well as all associated graphics, logos, and/or other tradermarks, tradenames or copyrights are the property of the Menier Chocolate Factory and are used herein for factual descriptive purposes only. We are in no way associated with or authorized by the Menier Chocolate Factory and neither that entity nor any of its affiliates have licensed or endorsed us to sell tickets, goods and or services in conjunction with their events.

Write a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.