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Casting announced for A Winning Hazard at the Finborough Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CASTING has been announced for Victorian Rediscovery A Winning Hazard. The three comediettas – A Winning Hazard, Allow Me To Apologise and Orange Blossoms – by J. P. Wooler play at the Finborough Theatre for nine Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from September 9 to September 25, 2018.

The cast includes Robert Benfield (Colonel Crocker in A Winning Hazard, Sir Peter Pedigree in Allow Me to Apologise, Colonel Clarence in Orange Blossoms), Jasmine Blackborrow (Miss Fanny Fairlove in Allow Me to Apologise, Louisa in Orange Blossoms), Evelyn Lockley (Aurora Blythe in A Winning Hazard, Kitty/Mary Myrtle in Allow Me to Apologise, Violet Hope in Orange Blossoms), Max Marcq (Dudley Croker in A Winning Hazard, Captain Seymour in Allow Me to Apologise, Septimus Symmetry in Orange Blossoms), Edward Mitchell (Jack Crawley in A Winning Hazard, Goliath Goth in Allow Me to Apologise, Falcone Hope in Orange Blossoms) and Josephine Starte (Coralie Blythe in A Winning Hazard, Hariett Seymour in Allow Me to Apologise, Isabella Clarence in Orange Blossoms).

Previosly Posted: As part of the Finborough Theatre building’s 150th birthday celebrations, the first London productions since the 1860s of three comediettas – A Winning Hazard, Allow Me To Apologise and Orange Blossoms – by J. P. Wooler play at the Finborough Theatre for nine Sunday and Monday evenings and Tuesday matinees from September 9 to September 25, 2018.

Be assured if ever I should marry, I should do so simply to be revenged on your whole sex…

Rediscovering and celebrating the work of Victorian playwright J. P. Wooler (who died in 1868, the year the Finborough Theatre building was constructed – the exact 150th anniversary of his death will occur during this run of performances), A Winning Hazard is an evening of three of his comediettas which combine insightful observations on the hypocrisy and vanity of the English ruling class, coupled with characters and situations that are both deeply Victorian, but also vividly progressive in their views on gender, money, and class.

A Winning Hazard (1865) centres on Dudley Croker and Jack Crawley who are unsuccessfully vying for the hands of two young ladies, Aurora and Coralie Blythe. When Dudley’s uncle Colonel Croker threatens to exclude both of them from his will unless they marry, they decide to win their respective partners by concocting a fake duel…

A Winning Hazard was the very first play produced by Marie Wilton (one of London’s very earliest female theatre managers) at the Prince of Wales’ Theatre in 1865, starring both herself and her future husband, Sir Squire Bancroft. Both Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft are buried in Brompton Cemetery, close to the Finborough Theatre.

In Allow Me to Apologise (1850s), Goliath Goth is off to find himself a wife, and his heart (and loins) are set on the young wards of Sir Peter Pedigree. Goth’s own ward, Fanny Fairlove, sees her opportunity, and proposes a deal: should Goth marry one of Pedigree’s girls, then she would be free to marry her love and leave his house. His refusal forces her to concoct a plan to shame him into releasing her, leading to an epic cross-dressing debacle of miscommunication, misidentification, failed seductions and absurd trysts…

Orange Blossoms (1860s) centres on Septimus Symmetry, a famed woman-hater – until, that is, he is visited in his garden by his friends and relations who are determined to get him to face his greatest fear: marriage. When his guests arrive, they discover that they all have histories of unfulfilled love – with each other. And, to his horror, Septimus find himself besotted by Loo who is famed for her hatred of men. He decides to upset the apple cart by reigniting old flames and fanning jealousy to prove his point about the absurdity of marriage and society.

Playwright John Pratt Wooler was born in 1824. He was a prolific playwright, producing over sixty short comedies, farces, serio-comedies and libretti during the 1850s and 1860s, performed at many of the leading theatres of the day. He died in Islington on September 18, 1868.

The three comediettas are directed by Phillip James Rouse, who makes his London debut at the Finborough Theatre. Rouse is a prolific and much acclaimed director and writer from Sydney, Australia. He has been the Artistic Director of Don’t Look Away Theatre Company whose works have been nominated for over ten awards in Sydney and Melbourne.

Presented by The Hazard Project in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre, A Winning Hazard is designed by Martelle Hunt, with sound and music by Julian Starr.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 01223 357851 (calls are free but there will be a 5% booking fee) or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.

Also at the Finborough Theatre: the European premiere of Homos, or Everyone in America by American playwright Jordan Seavey (until September 1) and the rediscovery of Tony Harrison’s Square Rounds (September 4 to September 29, 2018).