May 27th, 2013

Me with Red Ribbon

Hot theatre tip for Edinburgh Fringe: Sandel, Surgeons' Hall, The Space UK

Photo credit:

Cut and pasted from the Boys of the Empire Productions Website:

This Summer, Boys of the Empire Productions will present the controversial first staging of Angus Stewart's cult 1968 novel "Sandel" which has been out of print for many years.

Angus Stewart's cult novel of forbidden love
Adapted for the stage and directed by Glenn Chandler

The setting is 1960s Oxford.

David Rogers is a nineteen year old undergraduate at Oxford University. Antony Sandel is a choirboy at St. Cecilia's Choir School. They meet accidentally one day in the Quad, and a romance develops between them. When David is sent down for breaking college rules, it appears to spell the end of what is becoming a dangerous relationship. But fate has a strange twist in store, and the two embark on another emotional journey filled with drama, passion and uncertainty.

Angus Stewart's cult novel, written in the vein of E. M. Forster's 'Maurice' and Roger Peyrefitte's 'This Special Friendship', tackles the subject of adolescent homosexual love in a surprising way. Surprising, because it was published in 1968, in an era when books about male love usually ended in tragedy and suicide.

'Sandel' still has the power to surprise and shock. As controversial now as it was then, perhaps even more so in the present climate, 'Sandel' explores a love affair that steps beyond the bounds of law and convention.

Follow the link for full details on the production:

Background information

The novel is semi-autobiographical. Angus having gone from Bryanston School in Dorset to Oxford, where as a young undergraduate he had a relationship with a choirboy at Christchurch, who is believed to have been the son of a count.

The novel is set in the late 1960s, around the time of the Wolfenden report. The relationship would have been just as illegal then as it would be today. However such friendships do grow and blossom in the rarefied atmosphere of public schools and colleges.

Raks's Reaction

I was lucky enough and very privileged to see the rehearsed reading of this play on Wednesday 22 May.

The play will be taken to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.

Putting my cards on the table. The subject matter for this play is right up my street. An all male cast (even if there were only three of them!). Gay love story. Public school and Oxbridge setting. What's not to like?!

I knew nothing about the play, or the novel it was based on, before going to see the play.

But right from the off, the story and the play grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and I was drawn right into the world of the three main characters and their inter-locking relationships.

I found the love story very moving and powerful and the play gripped from start to finish. For me the play was not "controversial"; it was a touching love story, pure and simple; something that everyone could empathise with. All three characters were fully rounded and had real richness and depth. I could put myself into each of their shoes very easily.

What was uplifting about the play was the fact that there was an open ending. An ending that could be hopeful and optimistic, not the usual tragedy that accompanies such stories.

This was just a rehearsed reading, the actors had only got the final script that morning, but their performances were simply superb - they just blew me away. They are all young actors, and so the quality and professionalism of their acting is very much to be commended.

I came, I saw, I was conquered! :)

Now that I have seen the play, I am desperate to read the source material - Angus Stewart's novel. This is exactly what a play should make you want to do - explore the source material in more depth.

The novel is currently out of print but will be re-issued by Pilot Productions to coincide with the play opening in Edinburgh so I will have to wait until the Summer to read it.

Topline Summary
Very moving & powerful. An exceptionally talented and outstanding cast of three actors. A real treat. I LOVED it!
Definitely has the WOW factor!

Production details

When : 2 - 24 August 2013
Where : theSpace@SurgeonsHall, venue 53, Nicholson Street, Edinburgh

How to book : Online at or call 0131 226 0000

Very highly recommended. Get your tickets in NOW!

Twitter: @sandeltheplay and @glennchandler

Facebook: Boys of the Empire Productions

One of Glenn Chandler's other productions that I loved to pieces and that I had the privilege of seeing last year was The Custard Boys at the Tabard Theatre. You can read all about it here:
Having seen it, I declared it the best fringe production I had the privilege of seeing in 2012!