The White Carnation - Finborough Theatre
Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle
THE FIRST production in sixty years of R. C. Sherriff’s supernatural drama, The White Carnation, runs at Finborough Theatre for a limited four week season – from Tuesday, November 26 to Saturday, December 21, 2013.
There have been strange rumours about this house. Although it was in a state of ruin, lights were seen in the windows every Christmas Eve: music was heard: voices and laughter…
Christmas Eve, 1951. As Britain rebuilds itself after the war, John Greenwood has it all – a successful business, a beautiful house and an aristocratic wife. But as he bids farewell to the guests leaving his annual Christmas party, a gust of wind slams the front door shut, starting a chain of events that makes him doubt everything he has ever known…
From the writer of one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed plays, Journey’s End, The White Carnation is a ghostly tale of one man’s chance to do things differently. This rediscovery marks the first production since its premiere, starring Sir Ralph Richardson, in 1953.
Knight Mantell (The Art of Concealment, Jermyn Street Theatre and Riverside Studios) directs a cast led by Aden Gillett (winner of the OffWestEnd Award for Best Actor for Accolade at the Finborough Theatre) as John Greenwood and Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Pendlebury.
They are joined by Robert Benfield, Daisy Boulton, Ashley Cook, Lynette Edwards, Harriett Hare, Josie Kidd, Bruce Panday, Joss Porter, Derek Wright and Philip York.
Playwright R. C. Sherriff was born in 1896, and remains best known for his classic First World War masterpiece, Journey’s End, recently revived for a long run in the West End. His many screenplays include The Invisible Man (1933), The Four Feathers (1939), the Oscar-nominated Goobye Mr. Chips (1939) and The Dam Busters (1955).
Although Journey’s End continued to define his career in the theatre, the post-Second World War period was an ‘Indian summer’ for Sherriff with productions of Miss Mabel (1948), Home at Seven (1950) and The Long Sunset (1955). He died in 1975.
As well as Accolade, Aden Gillett’s numerous theatre credits include Next Time I’ll Sing to You (Orange Tree Theatre), Amongst Friends (Hampstead Theatre), Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre), Blithe Spirit (Savoy Theatre), Betrayal (Duchess Theatre), Design for Living (Theatre Royal, Bath), Benefactors (Albery Theatre), The Doctor’s Dilemma and Noises Off (National Theatre) and Too Clever by Half and The Tempest (Old Vic).
On screen, he has appeared in Tula – The Revolt, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Collusion, Shadow of the Vampire, The Winslow Boy, The Borrowers and Under the Lighthouse Dancing (film); Holby City, Casualty, The Queen’s Sister, Margaret, Silent Witness, Wonderful You, Touching Evil II, The Guinea Pig, Ivanhoe, The House of Eliott, Silk, Ivanhoe, Midsomer Murders and The Harry Enfield Show (TV).
After starting his career at Liverpool Playhouse, Birmingham Rep and Bristol Old Vic, Benjamin Whitrow joined the National Theatre under Laurence Olivier in 1967 and worked there for seven years. His numerous theatre credits include Otherwise Engaged (Queen’s Theatre), Dirty Linen (Arts Theatre), Ten Times Table (Gielgud Theatre), Noises Off (Savoy Theatre), Passion Play and Made in Bangkok (Aldwych Theatre), The Rivals, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Winter’s Tale and Henry IV (RSC) and Racing Demon, Wild Oats, A Little Hotel on the Side and The Invention of Love (National Theatre).
His screen work includes Quadrophenia, A Shocking Accident, Brimstone and Treacle, Personal Services, On the Black Hill, Restoration, Chicken Run and A Man for All Seasons (film); Troilus and Cressida, By George, Midsomer Murders, Tom Jones, Poirot, Hay Fever, King Lear, The Queen’s Sister, On Approval, Inspector Morse and Pride and Prejudice, for which he received a BAFTA nomination (TV).
The White Carnation is designed by Alex Marker, with lighting by Peter Harrison, costume design by Janet Hudson-Holt and sound design and original composition by Lucinda Mason Brown.
For more information or to book, call the box office on 0844 847 1652 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.
Also at Finborough Theatre: Luke Owen’s debut play Unscorched, winner of the 2013 Papatango New Writing Prize, and commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Michael Hastings’ Lee Harvey Oswald – A Far Mean Streak of Independence Brought on by Negleck.