Introduction Biography Addresses Portraits
Books Short stories Stage plays Film and TV Radio and audio
Quotations Fishing Poetry Food Settings Dedications Narrative style Canning in the OED Reading lists Articles on Canning
Centenary News Links Availability

Hole in the Wall

Play in three acts

This play was one of two found in some papers deposited by Victor Canning’s widow Adria in the American Heritage Center of the University of Wyoming. The play was probably written between 1963 (which was when Canning created the character of Horace Head for a story series) and 1970 (which was when the National Provincial Bank changed its name to the National Westminster and then NatWest). Canning had already had one stage play (called Beggar’s Bush) produced professionally in 1940, but since then had concentrated on writing novels and thrillers and subsequently film and TV scripts. Presumably he had contacts in the professional theatre who would have encouraged him to revive his career as a playwright, but perhaps no theatre was available and the projects stagnated. The scripts have been professionally typed, which suggests that they were at some stage under consideration by a theatre management. Canning died in 1986, and it is likely that nobody has looked at either script for thirty-five years or more.

A smart-aleck criminal called Duke Vines descends on the suburban house of Uncle Wilf and Aunt Alice one weekend, bringing with him a team of robbers who plan to dig a tunnel into the next-door bank. Uncle Wilf knows their plan will fail, but he knows another way and will share the secret if, and only if, one of the gang agrees to marry his nymphomaniac niece Dorabelle.

The whole play belongs to the media culture of the Ealing comedy thrillers like The Ladykillers and The Lavender Hill Mob. The highlight of the piece is the 'judgement of Paris' scene in Act Two in which first Dorabelle is asked to choose her future husband from the three eligible young robbers and then, when she hands back the initiative, one of them is forced to make the proposal.