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Fred & Madge - Hope Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

JOE Orton’s first play, Fred & Madge, will receive its world premiere at Islington’s Hope Theatre, where it runs from September 15 to October 18, 2014.

Fred and Madge are a normal couple. Or so we think until a director and an audience member start interrupting and reworking this play within a play.

Exhilaratingly subversive, the play includes the destruction of the Festival Hall (a potent symbol of middle-class complacency in ‘50s Britain), professional insulters intent on purging society with laughter and a dystopian England overgrown with marigolds.

Full of biting satire and sardonic wit, the play mingles astutely observed social realism with myth: Fred’s job is to push boulders up a hill, and Madge’s is to sieve water. In it we see Orton at the outset of his phenomenal career.

Joe Orton came from a working-class family in Leicester. He won a scholarship to RADA where he met his lover and lifelong companion Kenneth Halliwell with whom he lived until 1967 when Halliwell murdered him and then killed himself. His work includes Entertaining Mr Sloane, Loot and What The Butler Saw.

In the last 10 years, the early novels (Between Us Girls, Lord Cucumber and The Boy Hairdresser) written by Orton/Orton and Halliwell were published. In October 2014, his first play will be performed for the first time at The Hope Theatre, 47 years after his death.

Presented by Rough Haired Pointer and Adam Spreadbury-Maher, Fred & Madge is directed by Mary Franklin and designed by Christopher Hone, with lighting by Seth Rook-Williams. Casting has yet to be announced.

The cast includes Andrew Brock, Jake Curran, Loz Keystone, Jordan Mallory-Skinner, Jodyanne Richardson and Geordie Wright.

Fred & Madge is the final production at the Hope Theatre under founding Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher ahead of Matthew Parker taking over the venue in October.

Tickets: Previews (September 15, 16 and 17) all seats £10; £13 – £16 from September 20. To book, call the box office on 020 7226 4443 or visit www.kingsheadtheatre.com/hope-theatre.

Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm; matinee (October 11) at 2.30pm.