The world of theatre is getting used to the stranglehold of the rules about child actors and chaperones that were introduced a few years back. Getting used to it, that is, but not actually liking it any more than it did in the first place.
You know the sort of thing: lots of form-filling to apply for a licence for each child – closely followed, almost certainly, by a resolve never to do Oliver! again – then arranging a pre-ordained number of children to each chaperone, who will try, but not guarantee, to stay out of the way while keeping a watchful eye in the wings.
He or she will also ensure that no youngster is on stage after 10pm – and that is the bit that is intriguing me.
Wimbledon, Mecca of British tennis, may not be what we usually think of as a theatre, even though it is certainly a theatre of dreams. But it undeniably has children on its grassy stage – and when Andy Murray played his epic match against Stanislas Wawrinka they were onstage until nearly 10.45 pm.
So what’s the difference between Wimbledon’s ball boys and Fagin’s gang – especially as the gang members are often in the seeming security of their village hall with their familiar grown-up friends of longstanding?
The logic escapes me – and the Government’s Department for Children, which I telephoned for enlightenment, was clearly too bemused to come up with an answer.
* Coleshill Operatic Society must surely have scored a first among groups celebrating their centenaries.
Last Wednesday, exactly 100 years to the day when it introduced itself with its production of HMS Pinafore in Coleshill Town Hall, it was in the same venue to launch its centenary production – of HMS Pinafore. Moreover, on Saturday, its last night, as on the previous three, it presented the first act in traditional style before taking an updated look at the show in the second act – but it also served a celebratory dinner in the interval.
It was a delightful occasion, taking us from an excellent sailors’ chorus in its straw hats to quips about MPs’ expenses and swine flu – all spurred on by the amiable Neil Williams, making his Coleshill début as musical director of a crisp-sounding orchestra.