Welcome to the Official Hinge & Bracket Website

Hinge and Bracket

A Celebration

 

 

 

 

Two Nice Old Ladies with a Musical Bent

Dr. Evadne Hinge and Dame Hilda Bracket were the stage personae of the musical performance and female impersonation artists George Logan and Patrick Fyffe.

Active in theatre, radio and television between 1972 and 2001, this comedy partnership entertained the public in the guise of two elderly eccentric spinsters, living genteel lives in the village of Stackton Tressel and celebrating their former careers on the provincial operatic stage.

Early appearances have Dr. Evadne and Dame Hilda ostensibly emerging from retirement to perform in concert "by popular request". The ladies greet their public as old friends and give recitals in which they sing, play and reminisce about their past lives on tour in opera and musical theatre in the more elegant age following the Second World War.

Talented musicians and vocal performers, George Logan and Patrick Fyffe played exclusively in drag and in falsetto, serving up the musical numbers in a rich sauce of spinsterish bickering which formed the dynamic of the act. Logan acted as accompanist, arranger and foil for Fyffe's anecdotal and singing performances.

Details of the ladies' genteel lifestyle and theatrical history were shared with the audience for comic effect, and, in the spirit of authenticity, Logan and Fyffe enjoyed developing a detailed backdrop and career history for their characters.

For the duration of their stage partnership, the creators of Hinge and Bracket deferred to the identities of their stage personae, rarely agreeing to be interviewed out of character. In this way, they were consciously preserving the illusion of "the ladies" for an affectionate following, many of whom were happy to suspend disbelief and engage with these endearing characters as real people.

The Hinge and Bracket stage partnership spanned theatre, stage shows, radio and television, and continued for 30 years until the death of Patrick Fyffe in 2002. George Logan retired from the stage in 2004.


Dynamic of the Partnership

In a video interview, recorded in 2007 to accompany the release of Hinge and Bracket’s BBC television recordings on DVD, George Logan explains how he and Patrick Fyffe collaborated on their own stage material. 

They would develop the framework for a new show around a series of ideas, subsequently refining the gags and the timing in live performance.  In Logan's words, in order to perfect a show, they needed to "play it like a duet with the audience”.

He notes that the differences in their personalities served the act well: Logan himself was apt to work "from the head" as a performer, whereas Fyffe's approach to performing was more instinctive - a "natural comedian given to bouts of insane humour" and never happier than when deviating from the script. Part of Logan's role in such circumstances was to keep the shows on track whenever Fyffe’s muse sent him off at a tangent.

Final Curtain

When Patrick Fyffe died in 2002, George Logan decided that, without a Hilda, there would be no more Dr. Evadne Hinge. In an interview recorded at the Buxton International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in 2004 Logan spoke of working alone should the right opportunity arise, but made it clear that he did not miss the Hinge persona.

Feeling that the appeal of Hinge and Bracket lay in the interaction between the two characters, rather than with either of them as individuals, Logan determined that the body of work he and Patrick Fyffe had created together should now stand as a finished item.

Paying tribute to his stage partner, Logan praises Fyffe's comedic genius and observes: "[Patrick was] fabulously talented, a brilliant clown and a natural comedian. Since Patrick is no longer with us, [Hinge and Bracket] can never happen again. When you've worked with the best, there'd be no point in doing second-best afterwards, so I'd rather leave it as it is".

Fans of The Ladies still miss the wit, warmth and musical talent embodied by Hinge and Bracket.  Nothing quite comparable has been achieved since Fyffe passed away, and Logan laid aside his half-moon spectacles.


Encore!

After Fyffe's death in 2002, and with none of Hinge and Bracket's recorded work on official release, it seemed that the Stackton Tressel well had run dry.

Since then, diligent campaigning by Paul Dunford, keeper of the Official Hinge and Bracket website, has seen BBC recordings of the act released by Acorn Media on DVD. 

In 2012 a new campaign was launched in the form of an online petition[1], calling for a celebration of the act on BBC television.  Signatures in support of this initiative are still invited.

Characters and Interaction

Full Names:
Dr. Evadne Mona Montpelier[2]
Hinge (George Logan)
Dame Hilda Nemone Bracket (Patrick Fyffe)

Dame Hilda Bracket is portrayed as a lively, flamboyant doyenne of opera, dressed in old lace, and sporting a coquettish lop-sided grin.  In concert, she is often seen with a chiffon handkerchief dangling at the wrist.

Dame Hilda’s mischief, foibles and Tiggerish enthusiasm make for a winning combination in her songs, accompanying dances and anecdotes. In every sense an entertainer, she works tirelessly to engage her audience, with whom she is clearly in love. 

Hilda leads every performance with gusto and infectious humour, but is comically incapable of sharing the limelight.  Co-performers are apt to be ushered off abruptly if they receive more than their reasonable ration of applause. Even mild interjections from her friend and accompanist, the long-suffering Dr. Hinge, are received with bossy impatience.  Hilda’s public is her first love, and woe betide anyone who interposes.

Dr Evadne Hinge is played in sharp contrast as a reserved, austere intellectual whose role is to provide piano accompaniment, musical direction and, where necessary, vocal support for Dame Hilda Bracket's singing performances. 

Somewhat morose and retiring in manner, the antithesis of Hilda’s cheery egotism, Evadne cuts a modest, almost apologetic figure on stage. Sliding demurely onto her piano stool and peering sideways at the audience over half-moon spectacles draped with a decorative chain, she devotes herself to peering at the score, and is generally content for Hilda to compère the performance.

However, Evadne is as wedded to accuracy as Hilda is to adulation.  She therefore sees it as her duty to provide helpful comments on the repertoire, and will interrupt, or even bluntly contradict, Hilda’s introductions and anecdotes in the interests of precision.  This behaviour invariably creates friction with Dame Hilda.

Together, Evadne and Hilda play and sing songs from a traditional light-operatic and musical repertoire, favouring Gilbert & Sullivan, Noel Coward and Ivor Novello (dubbed "Dear Ivor").  Occasionally the repertoire will haul itself into the second half of the 20th Century, in Hilda’s words "coming bang up to date" with "modern" shows such as South Pacific.

The ladies’ musical turns are interspersed with comic anecdotes and frequent discursions into repartee, punctuated by flashes of cattiness and bickering. Between numbers, Hilda's wisecracking antics and Evadne's acid reactions to her companion's blatant attention-seeking generate the comic energy of the act.

Early on, Dame Hilda establishes the pecking order, explaining how they both came by their respective titles: her own damehood was awarded for "services to music and opera", whereas Evadne's doctorate was merely bestowed "for hard work".  As a prelude to their performance of Rossini’s Cat Duet, in which Evadne sings the role of a “ginger Thomas”, Dame Hilda is fond of alluding mischievously to Evadne’s having “been doctored”.

Disapproving, but never daunted by the theatrical and overbearing Hilda, Evadne raises her eyebrows and takes controlled revenge through terse and well-timed put-downs aimed at deflating Hilda's ego.  In a favourite assault on Hilda’s vanity, Evadne is fond of reminding the audience that she is in fact two years younger than her colleague.

In spite of their petty squabbles over such details as the date they first met (“Nineteen Forty-Six, Dear” – “Five”), or which opera was in rehearsal at the time (“I was sitting in the stalls with my score for Carmen on my lap and a box of chocolates…” – “It was Aida, Dear” – “Whichever it was, it’s easy to mix them up you know.” – “How d’you work that out, Dear?” – “Well, they’re both Continental. It’s very easy.”), the ladies are nonetheless portrayed as indivisible companions and an unassailable partnership.

Hilda and Evadne never fail to address each other as “Dear”, and occasionally stop mid-concert for a spot of sherry, or to examine the fascinating contents of their handbags

 

 

Read The Full Article in