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Breath of Spring

Breath of Spring
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Peter Coke
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 79
Pub. Date: 1959
ISBN-10: 0573010536
ISBN-13: 9780573010538
Cast Size: 5 women, 3 men

About the Play:

Breath of Spring is a full-length drama by Peter Coke. A little gentle larceny never hurt anyone, particularly in the late 1950s. Dame Beatrice rents rooms to a diverse group of mature adults. They find a new interest in life by committing a number of successful thefts. Hilarious geriatric delinquency!

Breath of Spring is a comic romp about five British pensioners who are unexpectedly revitalized when they happen into a life of crime. Breath of Spring ostensibly refers to an expensive variety of mink coat, but in the course of the action assumes the symbolic significance of the rejuvenating experience of crime. Her fortune diminished, Dame Beatrice hosts middle-aged 'guests', plus Lily her maid, in her London home. To repay Dame Beatrice for giving her a job despite her criminal past, Lily presents her with a mink stole which has been filched from the next flat. Horrified, Dame Beatrice and the Brigadier, a former army officer, swing into action. The Brigadier deploys his 'troops', including a vivid vocal coach and a dithery china restorer, to return the fur: The whole campaign is so invigorating that they decide to retain this excitement in their lives by pinching furs and giving the proceeds to charities. Can these latter-day Robin Hoods continue this criminal enterprise or will they be caught? Everything goes well until a loss is reported and Scotland Yard comes charging in. The maid is horrified to discover what has been going on behind her back, but agrees to employ her talents to bail the amateurs out of trouble if they agree to never touch another fur. She succeeds, the police leave, and life returns to its humdrum ways until someone remembers that it was only furs they had promised not to touch!

Breath of Spring premiered in 1958 at the Cambridge Theatre in London and was so popular – it ran for 430 performances – just a year after the play's debut, a film titled Make Mine Mink was produced, featuring the two stars of Breath of Spring. Audiences appreciated the comic aspect of the senior citizens who are quite active in their old age, and the play was revived several times over the years.

Cast: 5 women, 3 men

What people say:

"Two hours of... moments when I was helpless with laughter." — The Daily Mirror

About the Playwright:

Peter Coke (1913-2008) was an English actor who shone on stage and as Paul Temple on radio for 14 years in the 1950s and 60s. He became what BBC publicity once termed "radio's famous investigator" at a time when radio was the dominant form of home entertainment, and continued with it well into the television age. In what could mildly be described as a full life, he also had equal success as a playwright and shell artist. Between 1958 and 1988 Coke (pronounced "Cook") wrote eleven plays, including his most famous Breath of Spring. Having retired from acting in 1976, he developed a fascination with intricate sculptures made from sea shells. Eventually he made his own, ambitious in size and design; they were later successfully exhibited in London, and remain on display at the Peter Coke Shell Gallery at Sheringham, England.