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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.