Tea-rrific time at Harrods

YOUNG actors from St Ives Youth Theatre had tea with Mohamed Al Fayed at Harrods. The group of 40 were researching material for their latest play, The Bubble, about greed and unsubstantiated celebrity. They contacted Harrods chairman Mr Al Fayed to ask h

YOUNG actors from St Ives Youth Theatre had tea with Mohamed Al Fayed at Harrods.

The group of 40 were researching material for their latest play, The Bubble, about greed and unsubstantiated celebrity.

They contacted Harrods chairman Mr Al Fayed to ask his advice and he invited them to tea on Friday.

Siobhan Lloyd, 13, a pupil at St Peter's School, in Huntingdon, said: "Mr Al Fayed was lovely. He took a genuine interest in us.

"He wanted to know what we wanted to do when we left school and he offered some of us jobs. He is a really cool guy."

Kimberley Woodcock, 17, a St Ivo sixth-former in St Ives, said: "He was lovely and he interacted with us in a way we did not expect. He seemed genuinely interested."

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The Bubble, co-written by Coronation Street scriptwriter Julian Roach, is a musical is based upon the story of the South Sea Company and its collapse in 1720, which led to a national scandal. A large section of the aristocracy was ruined.

In London, the group also visited the trading floor at the London Metal Exchange - one of the last exchanges where futures are still sold by shouting - the Bank of England and jewellers, Mappin and Webb, where Siobhan tried on a £60,000 diamond bracelet.

Artistic director Jonathan Salt said: "To prepare for The Bubble we wanted to get the smell of money and Harrods is the epitome of luxury. It's not every day that one of the world's highest profile entrepreneurs offers you afternoon tea."

The group took a starkly different play to the Edinburgh Festival last year. Korczak, set in the Warsaw ghetto, won three stars in a review by The Scotsman. It was the true story of Janusz Korczak and the orphan children he tried to save from death and earned the company a nomination for the festival's Amnesty International Award. To research that play, the group went to Auschwitz concentration camp.

St Ives Youth Theatre is made up of 25 boys and 25 girls aged 11-17.

INFORMATION: The Bubble will be a promenade performance at the Burgess Hall, in St Ives, from July 4-8. Tickets from Hephers Electrical, in Crown Street, St Ives.

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