The Mayfly and the Frog (1966, The Wednesday Play): review

Written by Jack Russell, directed by Robin Midgley.  With John Gielgud (Gabriel Quantara), Felicity Kendal (The Girl), Isa Miranda (Madame Roo), Jeremy Rowe (Tepich), David Stoll (Mario), Timothy Bateson (Barnet).

This 75 minute play, broadcast on the BBC as part of the Wednesday Play strand, is mainly a showcase for the young Felicity Kendal’s sassy Sixties scooter girl, and John Gielgud’s jaded art-loving millionaire, after a chance meeting leads to them spending an evening together in his house.

Kendal was definitely showing her star quality during this production, whether bantering with the (unseen) Barnet on Quantara’s intercom, teasing Quantara by referring to him as ‘the frog’, or displaying a form of sweet innocence when she almost gets caught in the spider’s web.

Gielgud of course was something of a scene-stealer, whether in Shakespeare (remember his Cassius in the 1954 ‘Julius Caesar’) or in broad comedy (the delightful butler Hobson in ‘Arthur’).  He does his best here, but Kendal is his cheeky match.

An absolutely charming piece of drama which doesn’t force home any big ‘issues’ but just focuses instead on one evening between two lonely people from different worlds, who just “connect”.