Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Un-Faithfull in Swansea

At the Grand Theatre, Swansea, in 1975 the audience waited patiently. They were there to witness the opening of a new play The Rainmaker starring Marianne Faithfull. The curtain was due to go up at 7.30pm but there was a delay. Then came the announcement: Marianne Faithfull had failed to turn up. The half-capacity crowd was refunded and sent home.

Half an hour after the last of the disappointed theatre-goers had departed Faithfull finally waltzed in. She had caught the wrong train from London. In tears Mick Jagger’s former girlfriend informed reporters that the disaster was entirely her fault. Although she had committed many misdemeanours as a pop star this was the first time anything like this had happened during her thespian career.

The rest of the cast in the touring play were a bit miffed by her poor time-keeping. They had been forced to go amongst the audience to sign autographs and apologise for letting everyone down. Theatre administrator John Chilvers went further - he was “disgusted” with the female star and angry that no understudy had been around to step into her shoes. It was unprofessional.

Faithfull promised to apologise to the audience the following night but Chilvers vetoed the idea. They were a different set of people so what was the point in apologising to them? Oddly ticket sales were given a boost by her non-appearance. Punters were curious to see whether she’d turn up the next night. When she did walk on stage at the appointed hour a spontaneous burst of applause greeted her arrival.

Faithfull had put her no-show in Swansea down to having to take care of family business in London but basically she was just fed up with touring. When The Rainmaker blew into Cardiff a couple of weeks later the grumpy Hampstead actress gave her opinion of the capital to a local journalist: “I don’t think I have seen anywhere so awful in my life.”