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Edgar Wreford

Edgar Wreford, who died on January 20, aged 82, was one of that dwindling number who trained at the Old Vic School.

From there he joined the original Young Vic Company, most notably as Lysander in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that broke with tradition.

Edgar Silvanus Wreford was born on December 29, 1923. After a time with the West of England Theatre Company he went to Barry Jackson’s Birmingham Rep, first in Douglas Seale’s 1951 revival of Henry VI Part 2, in which he attracted attention as Duke Humphrey. He was part of Birmingham’s heyday and years later returned there to play a remarkable Shotover. From the Rep he joined the Old Vic – First Gravedigger and First Player in Hamlet among his roles – and then from supporting parts in the Waterloo Road to leading roles at Bristol. Back in London he was soon in Betti and Lorca at the Arts, at the Royal Court in Flesh to a Tiger and The Lesson.

In later years he was in Vivat Vivat Regina at the Piccadilly and other West End shows, at the Mermaid and played several seasons in Regent’s Park but much of his best work was done outside London. He toured Britain with Prospect and other companies, took British theatre abroad and in many productions at Oxford – where he also directed several plays – Nottingham, Glasgow, Manchester often being directed by Minos Volanakis, Frank Hauser or Frank Dunlop.

Often it was classical work. Among his Shakespeare roles were Macbeth, Benedick, Henry IV – he also played Pirandello’s Henry – and Shylock twice. There were also Theseus in Phaedre, Tanner and Shotover in Shaw, Gregers in The Wild Duck but Pinter too – Davis in two productions of The Caretaker – and even Dracula.

On television his work was more eclectic from The Avengers to the classic Age of Kings Shakespeare’s in more than 70 different plays and series.The BBC invited him to take a television director’s course and he went on to direct some plays for television but he was happier in front of the camera than in the director’s box.

He did get a lot of pleasure from passing on experience teaching and directing at drama schools in London and at one time in the Phillipines.

On reaching retirement age he gave up work, though not going to the theatre, leading a full and active life until Parkinson’s disease began to take its toll. He maintained contacts with old colleagues wherever they were and was able to make a trip around the world staying everywhere with friends. With reduced mobility he moved to Denville Hall where he died just after Christmas.

Howard Loxton

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