ALFIE is no saint, but he’s got charm and an easy way with words that lures women into his orbit and into his bed. But that’s as close as he’ll let them get. Talking’s not his thing - talking, he reckons ‘is more intimate than the other’, and love is certainly not in his vocabulary.

In Blackeyed Theatre Company’s new production, Edward Elks gives us a convincing Alfie - a finely judged performance with just the right degree of swagger and charm to make his many conquests utterly credible. Playing five of the women in his life, Gabrielle Meadows and Lisa Howard were outstanding, creating a brilliantly delineated cast of Alfie’s women - relationships would overstate their importance to him. Lisa Howard’s once-a-week Siddie and Ruby, “a lust box in beautiful condition” who finally delivers Alfie’s comeuppance were both remarkable, and Gabrielle Meadows gave affecting performances of Gilda, the woman who has Alfie’s child but settles for a man she doesn’t love but does respect, and Annie the downtrodden young northern girl whose ‘domestifying’ leads to her ejection from his life “You don’t let the outside get inside,” is one of Alfie’s mantras, and it’s one that dictates the course of his life until he is almost derailed by the consequences of one of his encounters, when Lily becomes pregnant and he finds himself confronted with the stark reality of a backstreet abortion. Shockingly, and it’s as shocking now as it must have been when it first played, Alfie nonchalantly allows Lily to pay.

A period piece certainly, but one has a sneaking suspicion that there are plenty of Alfies still out there, but these days they’re likely to get their comeuppance on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

Alfie was a powerful reminder of the quality of drama regularly presented at The Courtyard, as those who saw it would doubtless testify. It’s a real shame there weren’t a few more of them - they missed a real treat.