The Bespoke Overcoat

The Bespoke Overcoat by Wolf Mankowitz opened at the New End Theatre, London, in May 2010, directed by Nina Jerome. Cast included: George Layton, David Graham, James Barron, Sam Hoye.

Fender is a lowly clerk in the warehouse of clothing manufacturers Ranting and Co. His one ambition is to have an overcoat of his own. Refused one by the cold hearted Ranting he asks a tailor friend, Morry, to make him one instead, but dies of cold before he can take delivery of it. Unwilling to give up his only desire even in death, he returns as a ghost to persuade Morry to steal him the overcoat he so coveted in life.

“Ninon Jerome’s production, performed on a set by Helen Atherton that cleverly depicts the Spitalfields streets in the dotted lines of a tailor’s pattern, is exquisitely acted by David Graham as Fender and George Layton as Morry, their tender connection almost Beckettian.

Graham, shivering at his battered desk and pleading with his crass young boss Ranting to let him have a coat on tick and, on being refused, offering up his pitiful wages to Morry, is heartbreaking. And there’s a hugely affecting warmth to their rhapsodies over poignantly meagre meals of black bread, herring or a single bagel, and their cooing together as they examine fabric samples. “

Sam Marlowe, Times

Rehearsals for The Bespoke Overcoat

“David Graham’s performance as Fender is well-studied – dishevelled and shaking – and deeply touching. Amusingly, one of his most powerful speeches is an angry rant against ranting – the Ranting family firm that is, who fired him after 43 years of service.”

Laura Norman, What’s OnStage

“Layton and Graham make a charismatic double act. Graham in particular is outstanding. His Fender is falling apart at the seams. He is a painfully fragile, scrawny wretch who in death seeks the justice that was denied him in life. He wants one of Ranting’s coats. And around this simple tale, Mankowitz weaves a thread of wry wisdom”

John Nathan, Jewish Chronicle

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