• Find us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • View Our YouTube Channel
  • Listen on Spotify
  • View our scores on nkoda

English Deutsch
Music Text

Libretto by Arthur Jacobs (E)


2susp.cym/BD/tam-t-harp-pft(=cel)-strings (min

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Jeannetta Cochrane Theatre, London
William Chappell, director
Conductor: Norman Del Mar
Company: Philomusica of London


A LANDLADY (unseen) Soprano
JOE BLAKE, an engineering draughtsman, about 25 Baritone
AUDREY TAYLOR, a secretary, Joe's fiancee, about 22 Soprano
MONTAGUE CRESS, an art critic, in his 40s Tenor
DENYS FEATHER, an art critic, in his 40s Baritone
HENRY SKEW, an art dealer, about 55 Bass
MAGGIE DEMPSTER, a wealthy art-collector, aged 35-40 Mezzo-Soprano
SHIRLEY, her assistant, in her 20s Soprano
A RADIO ANNOUNCER (unseen) Spoken role
SIR HORACE STRINGFELLOW, director of the British State Gallery, about 60 Tenor
BEATRICE MARSTON, administrative asistant to Sir Horace, about 50 Soprano
Assistant to Skew Silent role
Two (or more) uniformed attendants in the British State Gallery Silent roles
Time and Place

London, the present


The action begins in the bed-sitting room of Joe Blake, who has crashed out after a night of pub-crawling. His fiancée Audrey turns up and berates him for having spent the money he agreed to put towards their matrimonial home. Worse, she is horrified to discover a large tattooed design on his back that he vaguely remembers having done. She gives him an ultimatum – he must get some money or it's over. Joe tries to come up with a plan – maybe his tattoo would have a value as a print? He sets off to exploit it. In Henry Skew's gallery, a couple of critics are gathered for a pre-private view, soon to be joined by the owner. Joe turns up and shows them his tattoo. They think the wealthy collector Maggie Dempster might buy it, and when she is shown it she does so. Ensconced as part of her collection, Joe finds that Maggie's interest in him is more than aesthetic, and rejects her. She decides to auction him. The buyer is the British State Gallery where he quickly becomes a popular exhibit. Audrey, however, working at the Gallery as a temporary typist, rescues him, and secretes him away in the Director's office till the search dies down and he can leave. Meanwhile, Maggie and the critics are called in to help with the enquiry. Suspicion falls on Audrey and she is questioned. A sneeze reveals Joe's hiding-place but he refuses to continue as an exhibit. The Director notices that viewed upside down Joe's tattoo reads simply JOE: it is not art after all. To spare the Gallery further embarrassment he resigns. Joe and Audrey are free, and Maggie gives them £600 to marry on.



Stay updated on the latest composer news and publications