Charley's Aunt

Written by Brandon Thomas
Directed by Karen Carleton
Performed in the The Mill Theatre, Dundrum - Wednesday 24 to Saturday 27 October 2012

Charley's Aunt programme cover

'Charley's Aunt' was written by Brandon Thomas. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds in February 1892 and its original London run of 1,466 performances broke box office records.

This production was set in the 1920s complete with music and dances like the Charleston and Black Bottom.

Jack Chesney and Charles Wyckeham are undergraduates at Oxford University. Jack is in love with Kitty Verdun and Charles is in love with Amy Spettigue. Charley receives word that his aunt, Donna Lucia d'Alvadorez, a rich widow from Brazil whom he has never met, is coming to visit him. The boys invite Amy and Kitty to lunch to meet her, also intending to declare their love to the girls, who are being sent away to Scotland with Amy's uncle, Stephen Spettigue, who is also Kitty's guardian. They seek out another Oxford undergraduate, Lord Fancourt Babberly (known as "Babbs"), to distract Donna Lucia while they romance their girls. While they are out, Babbs breaks into Jack's room to steal all his champagne, but Jack and Charley intercept him and persuade him to stay for lunch. Babbs tells the boys about his own love, the daughter of an English officer called Delahay whom he met in Monte Carlo, although he does not remember her name. Babbs also uses Jack's room to try on his costume for an amateur play in which he is taking part.

That sets the scene for the sort of complications that make a great farce. 'Charley's Aunt' is always a treat and is guaranteed to lift audience spirits on even cold autumnal nights like those that surrounded this production of the play in October 2012. It's easy to see why this few hours of pure escapism is one of the most enduring and successful farces ever staged, gracing stages in the West End and on Broadway and many less famous around the world.

"I'm a woman with a history!"

Charley's Aunt
Sir Francis (Brendan Dunne) proposes to Lord Fancourt Babberley / Charley's Aunt (Brian Molloy)

This production of 'Charley's Aunt' was staged 120 years after it first made audiences laugh and it was good to see that this "woman with a history" continues to tap into a very basic line of comedy in the theatre.

The script burdens some characters with more lines than others, but the play only works, as it did so well in this production, when it is designed and performed as an ensemble piece. Each actor, and every member of the creative team behind what they presented on stage, contributed to the tightly integrated mosaic of elements which concealed the considerable amount of talent, skill and hard work that supported what these photographs show.

Director Karen Carleton assembled a group of actors who played well with the characters and together they found the fun and sheer entertainment in this deceptively simple play.

Charley's Aunt final scene
The cast of 'Charley's Aunt' during the final scene of the performance on Thursday 29 March 2012 in the Mill Theatre


Brandon Thomas (1848-1914)

Brandon Thomas

Brandon Thomas was born in Liverpool in 1848. He was the eldest of the three children. Following time spent at a private school in Lancashire, he enlisted in the Royal Marines when he was only 14 years old. However, after only six weeks, he was bought out. An apprenticeship with a shipbuilder followed and after learning bookkeeping he became a clerk at a timber merchant business in Liverpool. In 1875 he moved to take up a similar job in Hull, where his family now lived. He supplemented his earnings with some additional work as a journalist.


His real interest was the theatre and he appeared in many amateur productions where his musical as well as his acting talents were presented in Hull. A businessman in the town, Albert Rollit, helped with introductions which led to acting work in London.


Thomas is best remembered for the farce 'Charley's Aunt'. The play was written for the actor W. S. Penley, who was a friend of his. The word 'was' is appropriate since they ended up in court in an attempt to settle a disagreement over whose idea it was. In an interview with a journalist in 1894, Penley said that, "The play was my idea and Brandon Thomas wrote it. Later on, we went down into the country and worked at it. Then we worked it out on the stage." Penley had two roles in the first production, producer and the lead role of Lord Fancourt Babberley.


Thomas frequently played the role of Sir Francis Chesney until shortly before his death in the summer of 1914.

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Charley's Aunt - Mill Theatre Auditorium
The view from the back of the Mill Theatre Auditorium on Thursday 25 October 2012


Cast of 'Charley's Aunt'
Jack Chesney
Charles Wyckeham
Lord Fancourt Babberley
Kitty Verdun
Amy Spettigue
Col Sir Francis Chesney
Stephen Sprttigue
Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez
Ella Delahay
Brendan O'Sullivan
Óran O'Rua
Brian Molloy
Doris Cullen
Máirín Condon
Aoibhinn Finnegan
Brendan Dunne
Tony McGettigan
Hilary Madigan
Jarushka Naidoo
Creative Team
Set Design 
Set Construction
Scenic Artist
 Lighting Design
Costume Design
Graphic Design
Stage Management

Make Up Design

Karen Carleton
Gerard Bourke
Pat Hand
John Canning
Paul Maken
Dympna Murray
Declan Brennan
Orla Cooney
Aoife O'Toole
Declan Brennan
Lorcan Dunne
Jean Monahan
Margaret Twomey
Ali Murphy
Teresa Dempsey



Picture Gallery

Photographs from productions are stored on the site. The Balally Players SmugMug account allows for the viewing and downloading of images at various sizes if high resolution pictures have been uploaded. The slideshow can be run and stopped by clicking on the play (>) and pause (¦¦) icons. You can move forward and back by clicking on the right or left of the image. To go to the gallery of these images stored in the Balally Players pages of the SmugMug site visit to see all of the available galleries of images and download copies in a range of different sizes.

SmugMug link
To download images, click on the SmugMug logo above to open the Gallery in a new window.
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The Cast

Charley's Aunt - The Cast The cast of 'Charley's Aunt' take a bow at a performance in the Mill Theatre on Thursday 25 October 2012

The set for 'Charley's Aunt' was designed by Gerard Bourke. The building of the set was coordinated by Pat Hand and the scenic artist was John Canning.


Pictures taken at a performance on Thursday 25 October 2012

The full set of pictures taken during the performance are in the slideshow above, just below the cast and crew credits. Here's a small selection of the many pictures taken. To view and/or download any of the pictures, visit to see the '2012 - Charley's Aunt' gallery and all of the available collections of images.

Charley's Aunt
Brennan (Doris Cullen)
Charley's Aunt
Jack Chesney (Brendan O'Sullivan)












Charley's Aunt
Sir Francis Chesney (Brendan Dunne)
Charley's Aunt
Lord Fancourt Babberley 'Babbs' (Brian Molloy)













Charley's Aunt
Kitty (Máirín Condon) and Amy (Aoibhinn Finnegan)
Charley's Aunt
Amy (Aoibhinn), Babbs (Brian) and Kitty (Máirín)













Charley's Aunt
Donna Lucia (Hilary Madigan) and Ella (Jarushka Naidoo)
Charley's Aunt
Ella Delahay (Jarushka Naidoo)













Charley's AuntJack (Brendan O'Sullivan), Lord Fancourt Babberly -'Babbs' (Brian Molloy) and Charles (Óran O'Rua
Charley's Aunt Jack (Brendan O'Sullivan), Babbs/Donna Lucia (Brian Molloy) and Mr Spettigue (Tony McGettigan)
Charley's Aunt Charles (Óran O'Rua), Kitty (Máirín Condon), Amy (Aoibhinn Finnegan), Babbs (Brian Molloy) and Jack (Brendan O'Sullivan)


Charley's Aunt


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