The Servant arrives

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A piece condemned by the writer’s own father as ‘obscene and a disgrace’ when first written is the latest offering from New Venture Theatre in Brighton.

Robin Maugham’s The Servant will be staged from June 18-25.

Spokeswoman Tamsin Fraser said: “Like Harold Pinter’s classic 1963 film adaptation, The Servant has its origins in Robin Maugham’s 1948 novella.

“At the time it was considered risqué. ‘Obscene and a disgrace’ stated his rather conventional father, Lord Chancellor Maugham of Hartfield, who, totally thrown by his progeny’s literary foray, suggested that young Robin might take leave of the family residence!”

In the piece, Tony, a young, wealthy socialite, returns to England to collect his inheritance after six wasted years in Africa. His friend lines up a house in Chelsea ready for his arrival and also sets up a meeting to interview a prospective manservant.

“He takes on the manservant; never invite the devil over your doorstep! The gentleman’s gentleman turns out to be an artist of comfort, capable of taking care of the decorating and plumbing as well as dishing up a mean chocolate soufflé. But his meticulous artistry masks designs of a more Mephistophelean nature.

“In pandering to Tony’s every whim, he gradually takes over his insouciant master and a fascinating role-reversal begins to take place.”

Tamsin added: “Nephew of literary giant, William Somerset Maugham, Robin produced a prodigious output of writing – short stories, novels, plays, films and biographies, earning acclaim from such notables as John Betjeman and Graham Greene.

“Some of Maugham’s happiest years were spent in Brunswick Terrace, Hove. He died in the Brighton Hospital March 13, 1981.

“Nowhere was his ingenuity more obvious than in this play, his magnum opus – a powerful social drama with dark visceral undercurrents swirling beneath the quaint superficiality of 1950/60s Chelsea society.

“The shifting triangular relationships within The Servant have the characters vying for status, power and control, keeping the observer in a constant state of uncertainty about what will happen next.”

Tickets online at www.newventure.org.uk or for further details phone box office information on 01273 746118.