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John Ferguson - Finborough Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE first UK production in nearly 100 years of St John Ervine’s timeless tragedy, John Ferguson, opens at the Finborough Theatre on Tuesday, May 22, 2014, following preview performances from May 20.

Emma Faulkner (Over the Bridge, Finborough Theatre) directs a cast that includes Paul Lloyd (as Henry Witherow), Ciaran McIntyre (John Ferguson), Veronica Quilligan (Sarah Ferguson), Alan Turkington (Andrew Ferguson), Zoe Rainey (Hannah Ferguson) and David Walshe (Clutie John).

Rediscovered and commissioned by the Finborough Theatre, John Ferguson is an urgent and powerful tale of faith and fear in a time of crisis. It is another of the Finborough Theatre’s acclaimed series of rediscovered Irish dramas, following the huge success of another play by St John Ervine – Mixed Marriage in 2011.

Ulster in the 1880s. John Ferguson lives by the word of God, and believes there is a reason for everything. His wife, Sarah, lives by the earthly reality around her. The Ferguson family are on the brink of eviction from their farm when a local man makes a proposal that could be the answer to their prayers. But as a series of devastating events unfold, the Fergusons find themselves tested to their limits…

Set in a rundown farmhouse in County Down, John Ferguson was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 1915, establishing Ervine as one of Ireland’s greatest writers. The play was subsequently performed in 1919 at The Theatre Guild in New York where it was originally scheduled for just five performances – it eventually ran for more than 130, putting the Guild on the Broadway map and saving it from bankruptcy. John Ferguson was last produced in England by Nigel Playfair at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in 1920.

Playwright St John Ervine (1883-1971) was a dramatist, novelist, biographer and critic. A protestant, born in East Belfast, he was for a time an unlikely choice as Literary Manager at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under W.B. Yeats, where John Ferguson was first produced in 1915. His many other plays include Mixed Marriage (1911), Anthony and Anna (1926), The First Mrs. Fraser (1926) and Boyd’s Shop (1939).

In later life, Ervine turned his back on Ireland and its politics, and moved to England where he became a noted drama critic for The Observer and The Morning Star, as well as a novelist and a biographer of both Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw.

John Ferguson runs until June 14, 2014.

For more information or to book, call the box office on 0844 847 1652 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.

Primavera’s first revival in over 25 years of Jean-Jacques Bernard’s Martine continues at Finborough Theatre until May 17, 2014.

Sandel - Above the Stag Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING its success at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Glenn Chandler’s adaptation of Angus Stewart’s well-known cult gay classic, Sandel, will receive its London premiere at Above the Stag Theatre – from May 20 to June 14, 2014.

Set in 1960’s Oxford, Sandel tells the story of a love affair between 19 year old undergraduate, David Rogers, and the precocious and beautiful Cathedral choirboy, Antony Sandel.

When David is sent down after infringing college regulations, he is given a job as a teacher at the choir school – where Sandel is still a pupil. Add to the mix David’s catholic friend Bruce, who is studying to be a priest, and the stage is set for a powerful showdown.

Though even more controversial today than it was in the 60s, Sandel is nonetheless described as a very funny, witty and light-hearted tale about what love can do in any age when it takes over your life. Guaranteed to delight and shock, the uncompromising ending left Edinburgh audiences stunned.

Also directed by Glenn Chandler, Sandel is produced by Boys of the Empire Productions and has set and costume design by David Shields and lighting by Chris Withers. Casting to be confirmed.

Sandel was Angus Stewart’s first novel and appears to have been based on real events. Stewart spent many years in Morocco where he wrote two novels before returning to England. Over the past forty years, Sandel has become a cult gay novel and until its republication by Pilot Productions in 2013 was fetching up to £1,000 on Amazon.

Tickets: First week (May 20 to May 25 – except press night): £12; Press Night (May 22): £22 – includes interval drink, programme, party; Prices (from May 27): £18. To book, visit www.abovethestag.com/. For group bookings email: atstheatre@aol.com

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm; Sunday at 6pm.

Orton The Musical continues at Above the Stag Theatre until May 4, 2014.

England Expects - Jack Studio Theatre

Teresa Jennings as Vesta Tilley in England Expects. Photo credit: Sean Goldthorpe.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

TOM Glover’s one woman, twelve character play, England Expects, runs at the Jack Studio Theatre from Tuesday, May 6 to Saturday, May 10, 2014.

Vesta Tilley was music hall’s greatest male impersonator. Her role in recruiting thousands of young men for the First World War made her the darling of the establishment but as the brutal reality of the conflict became known, the question arose: whose side was she really on?

Sitting in her dressing room on her farewell tour she reminisces on her role as Britain’s Best Recruiting Sergeant and the lives she touched. Through her stock-in trade of impersonation and songs, Vesta explores her role in the war and the impact of her choices on those left behind.

Described as a fascinating exploration of a controversial time and character, England Expects features many of Vesta’s most well-known songs, such as Jolly Good Luck to the Girl Who Loves a Soldier and I’ve Got a Bit of a Blighty One.

England Expects is performed by Teresa Jennings (pictured), whose theatre credits include The Woman Hater, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Wild East, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shaw’s St Joan and Follies. She has also played Vesta Tilley in her own two-hander Marie and Vesta.

Jennings also tours extensively in the UK and Ireland playing Mrs Doyle in a tribute show to Father Ted.

England Expects is directed by Gary Phillpott, who has wide experience in developing innovative writing for theatre. His recent directing credits include Hitchcock re:presented, a Curve co-production of a series of eleven short plays including Window by Azma Dar and The Ticket Vanishes by Judy Upton.

England Expects premiered to sell out audiences in March 2014 at Upstairs at the Western, Leicester’s first pub theatre. The play will continue its tour in September 2014, dates and venues to be confirmed.

Presented by Off the Fence Theatre Company in association with Curve, England Expects has set design by Kathy Boat, musical arrangements and lighting by David Hately, sound by Douglas Finlay, costume design by Sianne Shepherd and make-up by Marie Neville.

Tickets: £14, £11 concessions – available from the box office on 0333 666 3366 or online at www.brockleyjack.co.uk/.

Time: 7.45pm.

Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House runs at the Jack Studio Theatre from Tuesday, April 22 to Saturday, May 3, 2014. And the Jack Studio Theatre’s annual playwriting festival, Write Now 5, follows England Expects.

National Theatre Live includes Sam Mendes' King Lear

SAM Mendes’ production of Shakespear’s King Lear, with Simon Russell Beale in the title role, will be broadcast live from the Olivier Theatre on May 1, 2014.

The cast also includes Stephen Boxer, Tom Brooke, Kate Fleetwood, Anna Maxwell Martin, Adrian Scarborough, Stanley Townsend, Sam Troughton and Olivia Vinall.

An encore screening of the National Theatre Live broadcast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, filmed during the play’s original run in the Cottesloe Theatre, will be shown in UK and international cinemas on May 22 with further screenings in following weeks.

Alan Ayckbourn’s A Small Family Business will be broadcast live from the Olivier Theatre on June 12, with a cast led by Nigel Lindsay.

Carrie Cracknell’s production of Medea, with Helen McCrory in the title role, will be broadast live from the Olivier Theatre on September 4.

International dates for these screenings vary. For venue information and booking details, visit www.ntlive.com.

Hunger - E5 Bakehouse

Hunger

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

HOBO Theatre is presenting Hunger, a new adaptation of Knut Hamsun’s classic novel, in the compact setting of the E5 Bakehouse in London Fields – from May 13 to June 19, 2014.

Hunger is set in 1890 in Cristiania, Oslo, where a nameless writer wanders the streets. To have the strength to write, he must have bread. To have money to buy bread, he must write! As our hero wrestles with this conundrum, his last pennies are spent and his belly empties.

But as hunger bites, his senses are heightened, his appetite for love and beauty grows and, even in the deepest hardship, he retains a thirst for life and all the good things that the wide world has to offer.

With hunger the subject of the story, where better to see the play than in one of London’s most popular artisan bakeries. Its unique intimacy will make the border between performer and audience melt away, creating a truly shared experience that merges music, theatre and food at their finest.

Guests at Hunger can expect a two-course traditional Scandinavian meal at the conclusion of the performance, with hearty soup, cheese and, of course, bread to start – followed by sweet pancakes with fruit preserve and a refreshing glass of schnapps!

Ben MacKinnon, chief proprietor at E5 Bakehouse comments: “We are thrilled that E5 is being used as a venue for this innovative and vibrant piece of work and we hope that audiences will enjoy Hobo’s production of Hunger as much as they enjoy our bread!”

Created and directed by award-winning director Jamie Harper, Hunger will be performed by Harriet Green, Andrei Ionescu and Hugo Thurston.

Tickets: £25 per person, includes the performance, food, and schnapps. To book, visit www.brownpapertickets.com and search for Hunger.

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays only at 8pm.

E5 Bakehouse, Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London, E8 3PH

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Park Theatre

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ACADEMY and Emmy Award nominated Robert Vaughan will narrate the world stage premiere of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which runs at the Park Theatre from May 16 (previews from May 14) to June 22, 1014.

Jethro Compton will direct his own adaptation of this classic Western with Oliver Lansley (The Best Possible Taste, Sherlock, Misfits) in the role of Ranse Foster.

They travelled west for gold, hope and liberty. Liberty’s exactly what they’re gonna get.

One of the greatest tales from the American West, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a story of good versus evil, of law versus the gun and of one man versus Liberty Valance.

When a young scholar from New York City travels west in search of a new life, he arrives beaten and half-dead on the dusty streets of Twotrees. Rescued from the plains, the town soon becomes his home as he finds the love of a local girl. This love gives him purpose in a broken land, but is it enough to save him from the vicious outlaw who wants him dead?

Originally written by Dorothy M.Johnson in 1949, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance became a Hollywood sensation when John Ford directed James Stewart and John Wayne in the 1962 film version. The film was seen as a pinnacle of the Western genre and in 2007 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’.

Now, for the first time, this tale of love, hope and revenge set against the vicious backdrop of a lawless society will take to the stage for a new audience to experience the Wild West of 1890.

Although in recent years Robert Vaughan is best known for playing Albert Stoller in the hit BBC drama Hustle, he has starred in some of the greatest film classics of the 20th Century, including The City Jungle and The Magnificent Seven, The Towering Inferno and Bullitt, all three opposite Steve McQueen. His other TV credits include The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Protectors and The A-Team.

Founder and Artistic Director of Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company, Oliver Lansley has worked successfully in theatre, film and television as a playwright, director and actor. His screen acting credits include the BBC4 film The Best Possible Taste, Whites, Sherlock, Misfits and The Wrong Mans; while on stage he has appeared in Berkoff’s Greek (Riverside Studios), The Infant, The Terrible Infants, Ernest and the Pale Moon and The Vaudevillains (national tours).

Other cast members include Niamh Walsh (The Middlemarch Trilogy, Orange Tree Theatre), Paul Albertson (Carver, Arcola Theatre; Damages, Bush Theatre), Lanre Malaolu (Marat/Sade, RSC; Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Globe), Robert G Slade (The Hot Zone, Brady Centre), and James Marlowe and Hayden Wood, both of whom starred in The Bunker Trilogy, directed and produced by Jethro Compton, which won Best Theatre Award at the 2014 Adelaide Fringe Festival in South Australia.

Composed by Jonny Sims, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has costume design by Jessica Knight, lighting by Joules McCreedy and sound by Max Pappenheim.

Tickets: Adults £19.50; previews £15; £12 Tuesdays for N4 residents and for under 25s; concessions: £16. To book call the box office on 020 7870 6876 or visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/.

Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London, N4 3JP

Dead at Last, No More Air - Camden People's Theatre

Dead at Last, No More Air

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

JUST a Must is presenting Dead at Last, No More Air at Camden People’s Theatre – from May 6 to May 17, 2014.

This English language premiere of a forgotten European masterpiece, the final work of Werner Schwab, marks two decades since the great Austrian playwright’s untimely death.

Werner Schwab (1958-1994), the undisputed star of German-speaking theatre, effortlessly rose to fame for his unique talent with language and his macabre, humorous, confrontational narratives. In only four years, he completed fifteen plays.

Dead at Last, No More Air (Endlich tot, endlich keine luft mehr) was his last. In 1994, shortly after its completion, he was found dead in his room following a New Year’s Eve drinking spree. He was only 35.

Dead at Last, No More Air, also known as a “theatre-extinction comedy”, is described as a brutal, irreverent and bizarrely comical piece about what happens when an emerging theatre production is sabotaged by outsiders.

Following a dispute with the cast, the director replaces all the actors with pensioners from a nearby home for the elderly. At first compliant and polite, the ‘forgotten and dispossessed’ gradually start to question the director’s authority, leading to a ‘coup d’état’ where the theatre’s cleaning lady is selected as the group’s leader. Not everybody survives the new order.

Director Vanda Butkovic said: “Death at Last, No More Air is a comedy that puts a magnifying glass to the world of theatre in order to explore its relationship to reality and to power. Staging a Werner Schwab play in London is anything but an easy option for our company. Although renowned in the German speaking theatre world, he is virtually unknown in the UK.

“Nevertheless, I am certain that the play’s uncompromising critique of politics and culture expressed through Schwab’s distinct, biting humour and linguistic dexterity, will resonate with UK audiences and will offer a refreshing alternative perspective to the body of work performed in the current theatrical landscape.”

Produced by Berislav Juraic, Dead at Last, No More Air is translated by Meredith Oakes, with design by Simon Donger, dramaturgical support by Diana Damian Martin and lighting by Ana Vilar.

The cast includes Ingrid Evans, Jeremy Hancock, Denise Heinrich-Lane, Ben Hood, Tom Jacobs, Andrew McKenzie, Niall Murray and Delia Remy.

Just a Must was founded by producer Berislav Juraic and director Vanda Butkovic to introduce post-dramatic theatre in translation to British and international audiences. The company’s work focuses on showcasing exciting authors who have generally been neglected in the British and international performing arts arena.

Previous productions include the English language premiere of Sports Play (2012 – 2014) by Elfriede Jelinek (UK and international tour), the UK premiere of Woman Bomb (2011) by Ivana Sajko (Tristan Bates Theatre) and the first revival of Holy Mothers by Werner Schwab (2009). The company also co-produced Tom Lyall’s Defrag_ at Camden People’s Theatre.

Dead at Last, No More Air is suitable for ages 12+.

Tickets: £12, £10 concessions – available from the box office on 020 7419 4841 or online at www.cptheatre.co.uk/.

Time: Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30pm.

Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

NB: Dead at Last, No More Air will also be performed at The Warren, Brighton from May 30 to June 1, 2014.

USHERS swaps late night slot for month long residency

Daniel Buckley

Casting news

FOLLOWING its success in the late night slot, USHERS: The Front of House Musical will now get a month-long West End residency as the main show at Charing Cross Theatre – from Tuesday, May 13 to Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Tickets: £15 – available from the box office on 08444 930650 or online at www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 8pm; Saturday at 5pm.

Previously Posted: The cast has been announced for the new British musical, USHERS: The Front of House Musical which runs at Charing Cross Theatre for a six-week season, playing at 10.15pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from March 12 (previews from March 7) to April 19, 2014.

Joining original and returning cast members Ralph Bogard, Ross Mcneill and Liam Ross-Mills are Daniel Buckley, Ceris Hine and Carly Thoms.

Daniel Buckley’s most recent credits include standby Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre), Marvin Camden, understudy and played Lucas Lloyd in Loserville (Garrick Theatre/West Yorkshire Playhouse), Piggy in Lord of the Flies (UK Tour), Rupert Pie in Fresher: The Musical (Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and Otto in Spring Awakening (UK tour).

Ceris Hine was voted winner of The Voice of Tomorrow in 2009 and in 2011 she released her debut album Rose Tinted Girl. She recently reprised the role of Columbia in the 40th Anniversary UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show. http://www.indielondon.co.uk/Theatre-Review/ushers-full-cast-announced

Carly Thoms

Carly Thoms played Liesl in the UK tour of The Sound of Music. Her London credits include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Sound of Music and Babes in Arms (Union Theatre).

Set in a West End theatre, USHERS: The Front of House Musical follows a working shift in the lives of the stagiest people in the theatre – the front of house staff, portraying the hilarious, ridiculous and frequently moving stories of ice-cream and programme sellers who dare to dream…

A preview performance of a new jukebox musical is due to take place, a three-year workplace romance is on the rocks, an untrained newbie is working her first shift and the amorous manager is under pressure to cut costs. What could possibly go wrong?

The cast are currently in the studio recording the cast album, to be released in March by SimG Productions.

Read more about USHERS.

For more information visit www.ushersmusical.co.uk/.

Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience - King's Head Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CHARLES Court Opera is returning to the King’s Head Theatre with a brand new, fresh and witty production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience (or Bunthorne’s Bride) – from June 6 (previews from June 4) to June 28, 2014.

A satire on artistic movements and meaningless fads, Patience brims with cheeky humour, some of Sullivan’s most irresistible music and deliciously over-the-top characters.

John Savournin’s direction and Simon Bejer’s design will bring out the operetta’s relevance to a modern audience.

The cast of nine singers has yet to be announced.

Patience has musical direction by David Eaton and lighting by Nic Holdridge.

Tickets: £15 – £25; previews (June 4 and 5) all seats £10. To book, call the box office on 020 7478 0160 or visit www.kingsheadtheatre.com/.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.15pm; Saturday, June 28 at 2pm and 7.15pm.

Australian musical Once We Lived Here continues at the King’s Head Theatre until April 26, 2014.

Finborough's Thérèse Raquin transfers to Park Theatre

Thérèse Raquin. Photo credit: Darren Bell.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING a sell-out run at Finborough Theatre, where it continues until Saturday, April 19, a new musical adaptation of Émile Zola’s classic French novel, Thérèse Raquin, will transfer to the Park Theatre for a limited four week run – from Wednesday, July 30 to Sunday, August 24, 2014.

Casting for the transfer has yet to be announced.

Tickets: £19.50, £16 concessions, £15 previews (July 30 to August 4), £12 (Tuesdays for Residents with North London postcodes and Under 25s). To book, call the box office on 020 7870 6876 or visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Press Night (August 5) at 7pm.

Previously Posted: The world premiere of a new musical adaptation of Émile Zola’s classic French novel Thérèse Raquin, starring Julie Atherton (title role) and Olivier Award nominee Tara Hugo (Madame), runs at Finborough Theatre from March 27 (previews from March 25) to April 19, 2014.

Thérèse Raquin is set in 19th Century Paris. Behind the counter of a small dusty haberdasher’s shop near the Seine in the dank, narrow Passage du Pont Neuf, sit Madame Raquin and her beautiful niece Thérèse, whom she has married off to her sickly son Camille in a loveless match.

While he is out working, Thérèse serves in the shop and the monotony is only broken on Thursday nights, when Madame plays dominoes with a strange assortment of old friends.

On one such Thursday, Camille brings a childhood friend to the party – the bluff and attractive Laurent. He inspires such an incredibly powerful passion in Thérèse that she abandons all her inhibitions and her loyalties. This brutal and overwhelming passion overturns all their lives and has results nobody could have foreseen.

In keeping with the innovative and challenging nature of the original work, this radical new musical adaptation uses music and lyrics to heighten and distil the underlying themes. It features a company of twelve who play the main roles of Thérèse, Laurent, Camille and Madame Raquin, as well as their Thursday night domino playing companions and a watchful and distrustful chorus.

As well as Atherton and Hugo, the cast includes Lila Clements, Claire Greenway, Ellie Kirk, Jeremy Legat, Ben Lewis, Gary Tushaw, Verity Quade and Matt Wilman.

With music by Craig Adams and book and lyrics by Nona Shepphard, Thérèse Raquin is directed by Nona Shepphard, designed by Laura Cordery and has lighting by Neil Fraser.

Julie Atherton’s theatre credits include Lift (Soho Theatre), Sister Act (UK Tour), The Hired Man (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), Cinderella (Lyric Hammersmith), Avenue Q (Noël Coward Theatre), Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward Theatre), Ordinary Days (Finborough Theatre and Trafalgar Studios) and Fame (Aldwych Theatre). Her recordings include A Girl of Few Words and No Space For Air.

Tara Hugo’s theatre work includes Legacy Falls (New Players Theatre and New Your Musical Festival), La Cage Aux Folles (Menier Chocolate Factory), Threepenny Opera (Donmar Warehouse) for which she received an Olivier Award nomination, and The Bacchae (New York Shakespeare Festival). Her recordings include Tara Hugo Sings Philip Glass.

Émile Zola (1840–1902) was a novelist, playwright and journalist, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in his renowned letter J’accuse. Zola was nominated for both the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.

Presented by Theatre Bench in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, Thérèse Raquin is part of Finborough Theatre’s acclaimed Celebrating British Music Theatre series and follows the sell-out success of its workshop as part of Vibrant 2012 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights.

For more information or to book, call the box office on 0844 847 1652 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.

Also at Finborough Theatre: the first production in more than fifty years of Terence Rattigan’s Variation on a Theme and the first London production since 1985 of Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle’s The Hard Man.