The Law was, and still remains, a very traditional world. Barristers still carry legal documents tied with ribbon and in London Wall, at the Abbey Theatre from this Friday, new girl Pat Milligan, played by Cate Brooks, has to learn how to sew and bind a legal document with narrow green ribbon.
Set in a solicitor’s office in the 1930s and written by John Van Druten, author of I Am a Camera, the comedy it focusses on the lives and loves of working women.
Office workers in the 1930s had very different technology to that found in modern business. On the set is an old-fashioned switchboard and two Bakelite telephones, borrowed from the Milton Keynes Museum.
As to the rest of the props, various Company of Ten theatre members produced family heirlooms such as inkwells, a wooden ruler, and in Tina’s case, an authentic 1930s desk calendar.
More specifically, the play mentions and requires a magazine called The Play Pictorial. Director Tina Swain tells me: “Several years ago someone donated a pile of old theatre magazines, some of which were 1930s originals of The Play Pictorial. We don’t have the exact issue referred to in the script, but we have one very similar, dated 1931.”
Joe Wackett, who plays Birkinshaw, the cheeky young office junior says: “London Wall is voyeurism in its simplest form. Audiences see the ins and outs of the goings on of a 1930s office. The authentic props and realistic staging helps us time travel to a completely different era, when the concept of women working in a business arena was a new and unusual idea.”
Abbey Theatre, Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 2DL, Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8 at 8pm, Sunday, October 9 at 2.30pm and from Tuesday, October 11 until Saturday, October 15 at 8pm. Details: 01727 857861