Steptoe and Son in Murder at Oil Drum Lane

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The poster advertising the play.

Steptoe and Son in Murder at Oil Drum Lane is a play written by Ray Galton and John Antrobus that brought the Steptoe and Son saga to an end. It was first performed in 2005.

The title of the play was borrowed from the Swedish 1982 play Albert & Herbert: Mordet på Skolgatan 15 (meaning Albert & Harold : The Murder at Skolgatan 15) by Sten-Åke Cederhök, although in this play, the murder refers not to Albert but to their home in Haga, Gothenburg.

Background[edit]

Steptoe and Son had been a successful British sitcom in the 1960s and 1970s. Ray Galton had been one of the two writers of the original series, and he co-wrote this play. It brought an end to the Steptoe and Son saga, explaining the two protagonists' lives together and their deaths.

Plot[edit]

The year is 2005. Steptoe's old house is now the property of the National Trust. Harold Steptoe, now in his 70s, visits the place but gets shut in after closing time. Through his monologue, the audience discovers that he eventually killed his father by throwing a spear at him when he was sitting on the toilet. Since then, he has been living in secret in Rio de Janeiro.

While pondering his old home, the ghost of his father, Albert, re-appears. Albert explains that he has been trapped in this house with the "poncy" National Trust man, and that the only thing that Albert needs to get into heaven is an apology from Harold. But Harold refuses to give it, because he blames Albert for ruining his life.

Most of the story is told in flashback. Albert refused to let him go to school, forcing him into a life of no education. Albert forced Harold to take the blame for looting in the Blitz. Albert then stopped him going to the D-Day landings. Albert had locked him in a secret compartment throughout the war. When the war ends, Harold is arrested and sent to fight in the Malayas. When he returns, Albert continues to ruin his life. In an attempt to be rid of Albert forever, Harold plans to emigrate to New Zealand with his fiancée, Joyce. Albert ruins it by telling them that Joyce is secretly Harold's sister. Harold sets off for New Zealand but Albert gets him arrested by framing him as a thief. When Harold gets out of jail, Albert thwarts all his attempts to get a girlfriend. Harold is absolutely mad at Albert until he discovers that in all the junk he has a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, worth £3 million. Harold is over the moon and runs off to celebrate. Albert is not so happy, realising that his simple life with Harold will be over. In the next scene, Harold returns home to find the Bible missing, and presumes his father has destroyed it. In a fit of rage he throws a spear at the toilet door. At that moment, Albert opens the door and is stabbed by the spear.

The flashbacks end. Harold finds it in his heart to forgive Albert. It is then that he has a heart attack (due to finding the Bible was hidden for safe measures, not destroyed, yet over time it had been chewed and ripped) and becomes a ghost along with Albert. The next morning, his body is discovered, and Joyce, who has become a nun, asks for him to be buried next to his father, much to Harold's annoyance. Albert accidentally tells Harold that Joyce and he aren't really related. Harold is furious and in the argument they fly into the sky on their old wagon, pulled by their old horse Hercules, arguing over which one will go to Heaven.

Actors[edit]

  • Harold - Jake Nightingale
  • Albert - Harry Dickman
  • National Trust Man, Policeman #1, Military Policeman - Daniel Beales
  • Joyce, Pamela - Katie Males
  • Fiona - Louise Metcalfe
  • Policeman #2 - Andy Clarkson

Production credits[edit]

  • Director - Roger Smith
  • Designer - Nigel Hook
  • Lighting designer - Tony Simpson
  • Composer - Christopher Madin
  • Sound designer - Clement Rawling
  • General manager - Armand Gerrard
  • Production manager - Dominic Fraser

See also[edit]

External links[edit]