Venus Observed

Venus Observed is a play in blank verse by the English dramatist and poet Christopher Fry. The play concerns a Duke who decides to remarry for a third time. He gets his son Edgar to pick the bride. The Duke likes Perpetua but Edgar wants her for himself.


It was first performed on 18 January 1950 at the St James's Theatre, London, and ran for 229 performances with the following cast:[1]


  • The Observatory Room at Stellmere Park, the Duke's mansion
  • The Temple of the Ancient Virtues, Stellmere Park

Olivier's production opened on 13 February 1952 at the New Century Theatre on Broadway, where it ran for 86 performances. A new cast was headed by Rex Harrison as the Duke and his then wife Lilli Palmer as Perpetua.[2]


1957 British TV adaptationEdit

The play was broadcast on British TV as an ITV Play of the Week in 1957, with John Robinson as the Duke and Frances Rowe as Rosabel.

1960 Australian TV adaptationEdit

Venus Observed
Directed byAlan Burke
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
Running time75 minutes[6]
Production companyABC
Original networkABC
Original release2 November 1960 (1960-11-02) (Sydney)[3]
30 November 1960 (1960-11-30) (Melbourne)[4]
19 June 1961 (1961-06-19) (Brisbane)[5]

The play was adapted for Australian TV in 1960.[7] It was directed by Alan Burke who had directed a stage production at the Arrow Theatre in Melbourne in 1952.[8][9]

The cast included Walter Sullivan as Duke of Altair,[10] Rachel Lloyd as Perpetua, David Bluford as Edgar, Jacqueline Kott as Rosabel, Gwen Plumb as Jessie, Ria Sohier as Hilda, Hugh Stewart, John Dennis, John Gray and James Elliott.[11] It was the Australian television debut of English actor Rachel Lloyd, although she had been in two episodes of Whiplash.[12] The sets were by Geoffrey Wedlock.[13]

The critic for The Sydney Morning Herald called Venus Observed a "a pleasantly competent piece of work... a production rich in setting, with exactly the right kind of faded spaciousness you would expect in such a household.... It will be good to see more productions of this calibre.[14]


  1. ^ Wearing, J. P. (16 September 2014). The London Stage 1950-1959: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810893085 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Venus Observed – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB".
  3. ^ "Advertisement". Sydney Morning Herald. 31 October 1960. p. 13.
  4. ^ "Newcomer in Fry Comedy". The Age. 24 November 1960. p. 17.
  5. ^ "Venus looks down on love". TV Times. 15 June 1961. p. 16.
  6. ^ "TV Guide". Sydney Morning Herald. 31 October 1960. p. 14.
  7. ^ Vagg, Stephen (18 February 2019). "60 Australian TV Plays of the 1950s & '60s". Filmink.
  8. ^ "Mr. A. BURKE NEW PRODUCER FOR REPERTORY". The Canberra Times. Vol. 26, no. 7592. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 19 December 1951. p. 4. Retrieved 10 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Stage 'VENUS OBSERVED' IS A FINE PLAY". The Argus (Melbourne). No. 32, 868. Victoria, Australia. 7 January 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 10 February 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ Lane, Richard (2000). The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume 2. National Film and Sound Archive. pp. 103–105.
  11. ^ "TV Guide". The Age. 24 November 1960. p. 39.
  12. ^ "A Bride for a Duke". Sydney Morning Herald. 31 October 1960. p. 13.
  13. ^ "Newcomer in Fry Comedy". The Age. 24 November 1960. p. 29.
  14. ^ "Venus Observed". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 November 1960. p. 5.

External linksEdit