The Better 'Ole in South Africa
Very little is known about the stage presentation of "The Better 'Ole" in South Africa. Writing about the various overseas productions of the play in her article 'Captain Bruce Bairnsfather and "The Better 'Ole" - How the great war play came to be written' in The Strand Magazine in March 1920, Isabel Ramsay stated that "Old Bill and his boon companions, Bert and Alf, will complete their world tour with a visit to South Africa."
On 29 May 1919, the theatrical newspaper The Stage, in its summary of recent activities on the South African stage (noted as reported from Cape Town, 15 April 1919) stated that Leonard Raynes' company...took over possession of the Opera House in "The Better 'Ole," with Harry Paine as Old Bill."
Evidently the Welsh-Pearson film of "The Better 'Ole" was also showing in Cape Town at the same time, "giving the public an opportunity of judging of the respective merits of both forms of entertainment."
No further record of any production of "The Better 'Ole" in South Africa has yet been traced.
Although only the actor who played Old Bill - Harry Paine - is named in this report, other members of Leonard Raynes' company are mentioned in general, and included:
Eva Moss, Dora Nezley, Daphne Lange, Malcolm Tearle, Douglas Drew, Basil Osborne and E Burton Seymour.
All of them no doubt appeared in this stage version of "The Better 'Ole." Perhaps one day more details of the production - maybe even a programme - will come to light.
If you have any information on this - or any other stage production of "The Better 'Ole" which took place in South Africa, please get in touch. You can contact me here.