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Code of the West - Tabard Theatre

Code of the West

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ALCES Productions are presenting the UK premiere of Code of the West, a comedy about the ultimate Californian dream, at the Tabard Theatre – from Wednesday, October 16 to Saturday, November 9, 2013.

Written and directed by Mark Giesser, Code of the West is set in a Victorian San Francisco complete with manipulative media, bankers behaving badly and plans for a royal wedding.

In this strangely familiar world, an eccentric Englishman rules as Norton the First, Emperor of the United States. At least he thinks he does. And his new dynasty needs an heir. So when a Russian Countess and her English secretary suddenly arrive and announce that they are ready to talk marriage, it could be time for the wedding of the century.

That’s if the Emperor’s official imperial bank doesn’t collapse, or his official imperial newspaper doesn’t cause a diplomatic incident. Or he doesn’t get sent to prison.

Code of the West is based loosely around the incredible life and times of Joshua Abraham Norton – the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States, a loveable fantasist who, having had his whimsical declaration of leadership declared in the San Francisco Bulletin, warmly engaged a whole city who humoured him to the degree that currency was printed in his name and accepted at the establishments he frequented.

He was a man whose daily street expositions (including the need for a bridge across the bay) were listened to with amused interest by the local townsfolk as he passed through the city in his instantly recognisable blue military uniform and feathered cap inspecting the condition of cable cars and sidewalks.

He was a man San Francisco so took to its heart that on his passing – after some 21 years ‘in post ’- 30,000 took to its streets to mourn, whose legend has come to be immortalised in the writings of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson and whose tale now makes a UK stage debut.

A five strong ensemble lead veteran New York and London playwright/director Mark Giesser’s latest lightly farcical comedy, which tells the tale of one of England’s least known true eccentrics. Earlier this year, the premiere of his Good Morning Alamo!, also at the Tabard, received universal critical acclaim.

The cast includes Zoe Teverson (as Claire Greenleaf) and Stephen Cavanagh (Frank Tremont), making a welcome return to Alces Production’s latest presentation, David Janson (Emperor Norton), Lucinda Forth (Violet Allerton) and William Findley (T. Preston Booth).

Code of the West is designed by Christopher Hone, with costume design by Giulia Scrimieri and lighting by Seth Rook Williams. Assistant Director is Rishi Chatrath.

Tickets: £16, £14 concessions – available from the box office on 0208 995 6035 or online at

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm (except November 1) and 4pm on November 2 and 9.

Liza Liza Liza continues at the Tabard Theatre until September 29, 2013.