Roger Clarke writes: For some time I have run The Other RSC Pub Theatre at The Station Pub in Sutton Coldfield but it seemed sensible now to being it under the Behind The Arras banner so now we have our own theatre . . . and as anyone who has been to a pub theatre knows they are intimate spaces where the barrier between actor and audience, seating and stage  becomes very blurred . . .

 West End drama comes to pub

Ex-German soldier Wolfgang Meissler, played by Gerry Hinks, (left)  has a secret to reveal to Cpl Frederick Salisbury VC, played by Keith Minshull.

BEHIND The Arras's own theatre has pulled off a little coup of its own by booking not only a West End play but also the majority of the West End cast – a dream production you might say.

And you would be right. Confessions of Honour, a military drama which is both moving and funny, came about as the result of . . . a dream.

Rugeley writer and actor Gerry Hinks, who runs the Opus Theatre Company, said: “It just came to me one night. I could see an empty room with no windows just a door and a single light bulb in the middle.

There was an old man in the middle of the room and a German opened the door and walked in and said ‘You didn't win that!' Then I woke up in a cold sweat with my wife Teresa asking what was wrong.”

The dream had made its mark though and Gerry knew there was a play in there somewhere. He carried out research with the help of Willie Turner at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum at Whittington Barracks and 18 months later the first draft arrived.

The play eventually had its premiere in Stafford in 2007 and went on a successful Midland tour collecting excellent reviews – I gave it four or five stars in The Birmingham Post and Evening Mail I seem to remember.

The reviews must have been noted. Gerry, who has appeared in plays at the Suffolk Summer Theatre at Southwold for the past 17 years, had just finished a production there when he was approached to take the play to the West End and it was booked in for a successful run in at the Jermyn Street Theatre.

Cpl Frederick Salisbury VC, played by Keith Minshull (left), hears the secret  ex-German soldier Wolfgang Meissler has carried with him since the Second World War.

It meant a return to the West End for Gerry who had previously appeared in Lady Windermere's Fan for Bill Kenwright at the Haymarket and a first time for fellow actor Keith Minshull.

The play is set in recent times and all takes place in an ante-room at Whittington Barracks where Second World War veteran Cpl Frederick Salisbury (Minshull) is waiting to hand over his Victoria Cross in a special ceremony to his former regiment. There is to be a march-past, where Fred will take the salute and a formal dinner in the officer's mess. The full works. One of the guests though is a former Wehrmacht solider, Wolfgang Meissler, (Hinks), who seems to know rather a lot about Frederick's past and Frederick soon realises that the mysterious German could throw a spanner in the day's well planned works.

Gerry, who also plays the Rev Graham Broadbent in Coronation Street,  had no military experience himself in writing the play, just missing out in the final selection for National Service when only one in 10 of  even those passed A1 were selected.

“I had schoolmates who got in but I didn't. I had wanted to go into the Royal Army Medical Corps. I didn't have any ambitions of being a doctor but I was in the St John's Ambulance so it seemed a logical idea – plus I didn't want to be in a tank or on the front line in case of war!”

The play has evolved from its first production when it had a cast of four with Regimental Sergeant Major Willie Turner's part vanishing which means a promotion from Sgt Karen Baker gets a promotion to RSM in what is now a three hander.

Confessions of Honour is on at The Other RSC, upstairs at The Station Pub, Station Street, Sutton Coldfield (next to the station not surprisingly) on Wednesday and Thursday, October 19 and 20, at 7.45. Price £6. Further details 0788 682 0535 or

Roger Clarke


On a technical note the play has been available to amateur companies through Gerry for some time but it has now been published by New Theatre Publications where, according to Gerry, the rights, at £35, are little more than a third of those charged by more traditional publishers.

It requires minimal scenery and a cast of two older males and one female with all the action taking place in an ante-room at Whittington Barracks.


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