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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

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