Streatham, South London, UK 020 3582 4912

A visit to Streatham Hill Theatre to play Bingo in 1994

If you didn’t look at the floor level it could still be a theatre. The seats of the dress circle and upper circle still in situ. The mouldings still etched out in gilt, somewhat faded, the columns and the boxes. The non-smoking area was on “the stage” with nailed down benches and tables in bright blue rather like a British Rail cafeteria. In fact, stage left was a café depicted by a neon sign, in case we hadn’t realised, selling sandwiches, soft drinks and even hot meals.

On stage right there was a row of one arm bandits where punters jammed in their one-pound coins in the interval. Some of the original doors remained at the back of the stage, and I imagined the corridors to the dressing rooms and wondered if they were still intact or cordoned off due to health and safety.

I gazed out from the stage, feeling the tears well up as I remembered my father Jack singing “I’ve got a Motto” in The Arcadians, with me watching him from the stalls on my birthday in 1956, and the cake I had backstage afterwards.

Somehow the birdie song was not appropriate. Did no one else feel this loss of theatre?

Jill Stanford

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