‘Choice’s End’ by Dorothy Barrett

Set in 1950s Harrogate, and based on Ben Jonson’s Sejanus: His Fall, Barrett’s story is a tragedy of succession. Barry Choice is the pater familias of Choice’s Sausages, purveyors for three generations of the North’s best bangers. Barry’s son, Harry, is a sleazy loafer with a fondness for the company of leather-clad toughs. Pig flesh is a mystery to Harry and it’s clear that he’s unfit to assume his father’s chunky mantle. Keith is the pretender to the pork throne, chosen by Barry for his preternatural talent with traditional, yet thrillingly innovative, seasoning. Barry chooses Keith to head the Yorkshire contingent to defend the firm’s Gold Medal at the Internationale Fleischer-Fachausstellung in Frankfurt. The night before their departure, Barry learns of Keith’s plan to half the cayenne pepper in their prizewinning recipe to ensure a woefully under-spiced sausage, thus putting the Choice’s dread antagonists, the Ilkley Contingent, ever the Silver medallists, in line for victory. Keith’s loyalty has been acquired for the, admittedly appetising, allurement of a brand new Austin Westminster. The finale, involving a ruckus with cleaver wielding butchers and chain swinging, flick knife jabbing motorcycle boys, is simply thrilling. The 1968 musical production at the Richmond Theatre was marred by a regrettable succession of property failures, leading to the greatest loss of life on stage in the history of the English theatre. I was certainly sad to see the end of my flourishing career as a Prop Master, but the six months I spent at HMP Holloway were some of the happiest of my life.

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