We are thrilled to announce that our autumn production will
be the world amateur theatre premiere of
“Von Ribbentrop’s Watch”
by Maurice Gran & Laurence Marks
who wrote the big TV hits 'Birds of a Feather'
& 'The New Statesman' among other things.
This extremely funny play is based on a true story*.
Gerald Roth is a worried man.
His business is failing. He needs to raise money.
Maybe he can sell his gold Longines watch? He doesn’t want to sell it,
it was his father’s, but he’s desperate.
Then Gerald gets some good news. The valuer tells him the watch is worth
a fortune because he’s discovered it once belonged to Hitler’s Foreign Secretary, Joachim Von Ribbentrop.
There are collectors who will pay handsomely for such a piece of Nazi memorabilia.
The problem is Gerald is Jewish, and if his family finds out he’s used
Nazi blood money to save the family business…
"...a lively and hugely enjoyable comedy..."
The play will run from 24th -27th November
(covid restrictions permitting)
*This play isn’t true, but the watch is.
In 1985 Marks & Gran were working at Paramount Studios, Hollywood.
They weren’t enjoying it.
One day, to cheer himself up, Laurence went window shopping in Melrose Avenue, one of the few streets in Los Angeles where you can walk without getting arrested
for walking; LA Police being suspicious of anybody not in a car.
In one window Laurence saw a very elegant Art Deco wristwatch, so he treated himself.
Two decades later, when the pre-war watch started losing time, he took it to a repairer. A few weeks later the jeweller phoned up. Oddly, he wanted to know whether the watch was a family heirloom? When Laurence said it wasn’t, the jeweller said,
“In that case come to the shop. I think there’s something you should see.”
Laurence called in and the jeweller gave him his eyeglass to look through.
Engraved on the inside back of the watch were the initials ‘JVR’ above a neat little swastika. JVR could only mean Joachim Von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s Foreign Minister.
Intrigued, Laurence took the watch to Sotheby’s, who confirmed its provenance and said it would fetch a great deal at auction, although the bidders would almost certainly be anonymous. Laurence was tempted to sell it, but made the mistake of telling Maurice, who said: “How can you possibly profit from a Nazi watch?”
After a long philosophical debate, they decided there was only one thing to do;
write a play about this very dilemma. 'Von Ribbentrop’s Watch' is that play.
The protagonist, Gerald Roth, is a struggling wine merchant. To save his bacon he’s started selling assets. His watch is an antique, it’s gold, maybe it’ll pay for a month’s rent on his shop. When Gerald learns the watch once belonged to Von Ribbentrop,
he realises he could put into auction and solve all his money problems,
as long as his family doesn’t find out, because his jealous brother,
overbearing mother, and pious wife would never speak to him again.
The problem is that the family have gathered for the annual Passover dinner, and somehow his brother has got his hands on the valuation letter from Sotheby’s.
Running time: 110 mins approx
Mrs Lila Roth