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News > Christ College Archive > Zigger Zagger (1976)

Zigger Zagger (1976)

By special request!

The posting of the 'HMS Pinafore' gallery almost immediately prompted a couple of requests for a ‘Zigger Zagger’ gallery. Those who contacted us wanted to make the point that ‘Zigger Zagger’ also had a real impact on the drama scene at Christ College.

Written by Peter Terson for the National Youth Theatre, Zigger Zagger’ was first staged in 1967 by the NYT. Through gritty drama and comical scenes, the play explores the problems, pressures and choices in the world of what was then widely known as ‘football hooliganism’.

At Christ College, it was the fourth of the school plays produced by Gareth Jones. Unsurprisingly, drama records reveal that it was the very first Christ College production to be played in modern costume. OBs of the era still recall its striking energetic modernity.

“Gone were stiff suits and measured expression; in came jeans and football chants. We’d never experienced anything like it.”

Perhaps partly to encourage those who may not have been sympathetic to the staging of such a modern play, the programme for the Christ College performance placed it squarely in a sequence with the previous 'GJ' productions: ‘Doctor Faustus’ (1973), ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ (1974), ‘Richard the Second’ (1975), ‘Zigger Zagger’ (1976). In the programme we are asked, “Have these last four Christ College productions anything in common?” The answer offered is that they all feature “Temptation; choice; suffering for one’s choice.”

Only those who were there can tell us the extent to which they thought about the commonalities of ‘Doctor Faustus’ and ‘Zigger Zagger’. What seems to have endured most is the memory that the cast included a quarter of the school and “some young ladies” from the Convent, and that the walls of the Mem. Hall resounded with the chants of the ‘crowd’.  

The reviewer in The Breconian, Audrey Tyler, is fulsome in her praise for this memorably "sparkling" production. Her review is reproduced below for your enjoyment, but we’d like to know what you remember of ‘Zigger Zagger’, whether as a participant or from the point of view of the audience. Feel free to share your stories in the Comments. If you have a longer story to tell, Felicity would be delighted to hear from you.

from THE BRECONIAN 1975-76

ZIGGER ZAGGER by Peter Terson

The Christ College Dramatic Society presented a sparkling performance of " Zigger Zagger", written by Peter Terson, originally for the National Youth Theatre. Set in a football stadium the play races the progress of one Harry Philton, a youth of the present day who finds his only means of self-expression and happiness in being a football fan. Buffeted and battered by the social institutions of which unwittingly he is a part, manipulated by a fundamentally uncaring mother, who is also a sleazy tart, Harry tries to make some sense of his life. He leaves his dead-end secondary school to take a dead-end job and inevitably ends up in the Magistrates Court.

His only source of strength is his brother-in-law, Les, who sings a perpetual hymn in praise of manufactured objects, a devotee of plastic and "do-it-yourself". Having made his pathetically ineffectual protest, Harry eventually turns his back on football and settles for the 'boring counterfeit" way of living, embodied by Les.

Harry (Mike Evans) gave an intelligent, completely convincing performance. He allowed the audience to feel the pathos of his dilemma in a totally unsentimental way, which enabled the rest of the cast to "play off" him. The result was a brilliant blend of comedy and satire.

Zigger Zagger (Donald Whyte), Harry's brash mindless friend and another football fanatic gave the part all it needed and was a splendid foil to Harry. Another good piece of casting was Josh Cooper as Les, the complacent self-satisfied brother-in-law. I particularly admired his sincerity, Les was not caricatured but came over as a believable human being. Edna, played by Helen Perry was also very convincing as his brain-washed wife.

With such a large cast, who all contributed so admirably to the success of the production, it is impossible to mention everyone. Therefore I will pick out a few of those with the larger parts. Glenys Woodhouse as Harry's mother gave the superb performance we have come to expect of this talented actress. Her small scenes, particularly with the "uncles" were hilarious and the comedy timing of everyone involved was quite perfect.

Other highlights were provided by the Youth Careers Officer (Owain Rees), who "brought the house down" with his impersonation, and the Recruiting Sergeant (Phil Bramley). Both gave a model of relaxed confident acting. Mark Craig as the Youth Leader and Simon Donald as the newsagent were  also good strong comic characterisations. Vincent (Mike Parsons) gave a wickedly funny send-up of the " George Best" type of footballer, Sandra, Harry's girlfriend (Joanna Coleman) and her friend Glenice (Sarah Kenny) were both excellent in their parts, providing just the right blend of insolence, vulnerability and awareness of the power of their femininity.

The set was simple but effective and the pace of the production was maintained throughout. The hard-working crowd, in evidence throughout, deserve a special word of praise. Gareth Jones (the producer) must be congratulated on his handling of their scenes, particularly on such a small stage. The moment when the crowd erupted into madness was particularly striking and it was a splendid piece of comedy when a very junior member of the cast did a mocking walk behind a policeman.

The backstage staff deserve much commendation for their hard work and the speedy way in which they effected the necessary scene changes. Costumes were totally in keeping with the theme and mood of the play and the lighting was, generally speaking, used most effectively.

Finally a very big round of applause to the young musicians and to their lead vocalist (Nick Elston) who possesses genuine talent. Their modern music was an integral part of the production and contributed immeasurably to its verve and enthusiasm.

Zigger Zagger was written for a large group of young people to give them the opportunity to "speak to" our time in a dramatically exciting way. As a social document it can stand in its own right.

Thank you Christ College and Mr. Jones for succeeding so well in the difficult task of making it such an entertaining and thought-provoking comedy as well.





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