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The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly

I am grateful to hawk-eyed theatre watcher and theatre memorabilia collector No-Ting Bettertedoo for sending in the attached and very rare photographs of the Holnest Theatre Workshop's production of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr(s) Sloane-Ranger. Readers familiar with the work of gender-blind casting pioneer group's experimental work will know - but will not have seen evidence - of its original intention to cast, in the role of native scout Kemusabe, Native Dorsetian Mae West Bexington. Ms Bexington - who had previously enjoyed great success in re-configuring roles such as those of Robo-Coppette II, The Outlaw Josie Whalebone-Corsette, Hermione Poirot, Robyn of Sherwood and Petra Pan (the boy who never grew testicles) as well as (for television) gender-fluid serial killer/blood spatter scientist Ambi-Dexter - was eventually replaced in the role by the more conventionally appealing black-up artist Kevin Jol (Al Jol's son).

What may be hitherto unknown even to experimental theatre aficionados (yes there are one or two out there and they do get out every now and again!) is that Ms Bexington's participation in "the project" stretched as far into rehearsals as the first semi-naked dress. Only when the company moved into the Theatre Royal, Winterborne Monkton for the full dress was she summarily dropped in favour of the wholly conventiuonal and - frankly - vanilla - Kevin Jol. As the social commentator and conservative-leaning theatre historian Thozworther Goodoldays notes "Audiences in 2018 just weren't ready for a woman in the role of a down-trodden and much abused native servant given to sniffing warm horse-dung when in search of a quarry; so it was only right to avoid controversy by casting a white man pretending to be a black man pretending to be a native Dorsetian Indian in the role. That way the lines of racial difference became irredeemably blurred and no one knew quite what to protest about. In the end it was a steaming pile of crap anyway and it just sort of faded into oblivion".

Photographic evidence of the change in casting for the Holnest Theatre Workshop's production of Entertaining Mr(s) Slonae Ranger.  ABove the controversial Mae West Bexington, below the more socially acceptable Kevin Jol.
Photographic evidence of the change in casting for the Holnest Theatre Workshop's production of Entertaining Mr(s) Sloane Ranger. [Above] the controversially feisty Mae West Bexington, [Below] the more compliant and socially acceptable Kevin Jol.

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