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The Devil's Disciple (1976)

The Devil's Disciple


A Royal Shakespeare Company production of a play by George Bernard Shaw, performed at the Aldwych Theatre, London (opened 13 July 1976).

Performance length: 2 hours and 21 minutes (including two intervals)


During the American revolution, and following the death of his father, Dick Dudgeon returns to his estranged family's home. 

There he learns that he has inherited much of the estate, despite having rejected what he perceives as the Dudgeons' corrupt religious practices and misguided moral values.  Promptly evicting his mother, the self-professed 'Devil's disciple' permits his cousin, the illegitimate Essie, to remain at the house. 

Dick's highly unconventional behaviour notwithstanding, the young man is treated politely by the Rev. Anderson.  When Dick visits the clergyman's wife, however, his fortunes alter dramatically.


Patience Collier ... Mrs Dudgeon

Tom Conti ... Dick, Mrs Dudgeon's son

Tony Haygarth ... Christy, Mrs Dudgeon's son

Larry Hoodekoff ... William Dudgeon

Eve Pearce ... Mrs William Dudgeon

Alan Tilvern ... Titus Dudgeon

Ann Way ... Mrs Titus Dudgeon

Zoë Wanamaker ... Essie, Mrs Dudgeon's illegitimate niece

T P McKenna ... Rev. Anderson

Estelle Kohler ... Judith, his wife

Richard Simpson ... Lawyer Hawkins

Peter Tilbury ... Brudenell

Valerie Colgan ... Sarah Wilkins

Lynsey Baxter ... Girl

John Wood ... General Burgoyne

Patrick Godfrey ... Major Swindon

Bob Hoskins ... Sergeant

Steven Beard, Joe Dunlop, Ian Lowe, and Norman Tipton ... Soldiers

Manning Redwood ... Brunswick Officer

Karl Held ... Prussian Officer

Raymond Marlowe ... Executioner


Director: Jack Gold
Designer: Roger Butlin
Music: Carl Davis
Lighting Designer: Stewart Leviton
Military Advisor: Derek Ware
Movement: Sue Weston
Assistant to the Designer: George Hunt
Stage Manager: Maggie Whitlum
Deputy Stage Manager: Titus Grant
Assistant Stage Manager: Diana Durant
Sound: Anna Cooke
Theatre Programme: Penny Gold
Theatre Programme Designer: John Kibblewhite
Rehearsal and Production Photographer: Sophie Baker
Musicians: Jeremy Barlow, Peter Cameron, John Hammonds, Tony McVey, John Riley, and Peter Whittaker


This production of The Devil's Disciple, performed to mark the United States of America's bicentennial year, was the first in which Zoë appeared with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.  She joined the RSC at a very interesting stage in its development, sensing an exciting new dynamic among the actors.  'Some of us now at the RSC have a different sort of energy that has not been smoothed, shined or made acceptable.  I like that', she commented at the time (see 'I Yearn To Be So Free and Comfortable on That Stage' interview).

From the outset, Zoe enjoyed great success as a member of the RSC.  Her portrayal of Essie in The Devil's Disciple led to a nomination for the 1976 Plays & Players Most Promising New Actress Award. She received another nomination in the same category for her next production with the company, Ivanov (1976). 

Zoë's other RSC productions during the 1970s include Ivanov (performed alongside The Devil's Disciple from 2 September 1976), Wild Oats (1976), The Taming of the Shrew (1978), Captain Swing (1978), Piaf (1978), and Once in a Lifetime (1979).  During the 1980s, she returned to the company for Twelfth Night (1983), The Comedy of Errors (1983), Mother Courage and Her Children (1984), and Othello (1989).

Press coverage

Zoe's performance was '[o]utstanding', The Stage remarked.  '[T]his production must be reckoned something close to sublime', wrote Alan Rich in The New York Magazine.


A poster advertising this production of the The Devil's Disciple was sold at the theatre.  Now copies may occasionally be found second-hand.

The Devil's Disciple by George Bernard Shaw

Related links

The Devil's Disciple production information - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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