Samuel French

The challenge

The end of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bookends’ and the start of ‘Old Friends’ are linked by a loooooong note that holds and suddenly drops an octave. For me this note represented death, bridging a song about old men on a bench, and another about memories being all that’s left you. I wanted to dramatise that.

What we did

I wrote a simple, one act two-hander, about an hour long, about two old men on a park bench, reunited after a time apart. It was directed by Olly Lambert, a friend from university, who has gone on to make a number of brilliant TV documentaries. It opened at the Man in the Moon Theatre in Chelsea, on 15th August 1995. Ron was played by Ken Ratcliffe, Bill was played by Kevin Laffan. They were both great but Laffan was astonishing. He was also a writer, the creator of Emmerdale Farm, and his name still appears on the credits to this day.

What happened next

Well, it did make people cry, and it was a strange feeling to sit in a dark corner of the theatre and witness that. After the run, the phone rang: the play publishers Samuel French had been to see it, and wanted to publish it. I know it’s been put on a number of times since its publication, in Yorkshire, Edinburgh and the Midlands at least. The play was also translated into Dutch.

But probably the best of all was to get an email from the director of a village theatre in Yorkshire. Forgive my self indulgence, but I’ve put it down in full below. I nearly burst with pride.

The play can be purchased from Samuel French / Concord for £8.99.

Dear Mr Perry

Whilst doing my research for a directors note and finding your website, I felt that I must e-mail you regarding your one-act play 'Bookends'.

We, the Osmotherley Village Theatre in North Yorkshire are presenting your wonderful play this week. I know that I speak for the whole group, particularly our own 'Bill and Ron' in saying what a brilliant piece of work it is. Your portrayal of the two old men and your insight into their complex, funny and moving relationship is staggering - especially given how young you were when you wrote it.

I know that our actors have found it very enjoyable, but extremely challenging to do. As the director, I have never tired of hearing the dialogue, always looking forward to rehearsals to once again enter the lives of these two charming characters.

I hope that you don't mind me interupting your life in Sunny Spain, but I just couldn't resist thanking you for giving us such a delightful play. I hope we can do it justice!


Lynne Mortimer Osmotherley Village Theatre