Thursday, October 27, 2022

How theatre audiences reacted to Freda Jackson's performance in No Room at the Inn

Back to Freda Jackson, who played the villainous Mrs Voray in Joan Temple's play No Room at the Inn and also in the subsequent film. The play, like Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, was inspired by the death of Dennis O'Neill.

I've come across a couple of accounts of how theatre audiences reacted to her performance.

Her son Julian Bird, who became an actor himself in his sixties after a career as a psychiatrist, spoke to the Guardian:

“I was brought up in a theatre family,” Bird says. His father, Henry Bird, was an artist who designed sets. His mother, Freda Jackson, was an actor, “a name in the 40s, 50s and 60s”. 
She was the lead in the play No Room at the Inn, about the abuse of evacuees during the second world war, which was so scandalous that she needed police protection when it transferred to the West End in 1946. “There were always women at the stage door wanting to kill her.”

And I recently found this comment on the IMDb page for the film:

I was Ronnie and my stage name was Stanley Conett (Stanley Heinemann) I played that part for 427 performances at the Winter Garden. Then toured England and Scotland with the show. 

Also I did the BBC version. It is a pity that you have published the wrong actor's name for the Winter Garden version of the show. I was too tall to be in the film version. 

The Theatre version often caused the audience to erupt with shouting and curses at Freda Jackson. The show ended with the girls suffocating Mrs Voray and it was different in the movie.

All of which goes to support the claim from the Nottingham Post that:

Such was the power of her performance, audiences are said to have stood and cheered when her character was finally vanquished.

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