Deny Deny Deny – Jonathan Maitland returns to Park Theatre with play about doping in sport

It’s the first rule in the doper’s handbook.

If you’re accused of cheating, deny it.

Then deny it again. And carry on denying it, until you can’t.

Deny Deny Deny, journalist turned playwright Jonathan Maitland’s new play tackling the controversial and highly current subject of doping in sport, will premiere at Park Theatre on 2 November and play until 3 December, with a press night on 3 NovemberBrendan O’Hea, who previously collaborated with Maitland on An Audience with Jimmy Savile, will direct, Polly Sullivan will design with lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Mic Pool.

Deny Deny Deny

Deny Deny Deny

Eve, a promising young athlete, is offered a cutting edge new ‘therapy’ by her mysterious, charismatic coach. She says it will make her the fastest woman in the world: but is it as safe, legal and ethical as she claims? The play, which is set in the near future, is a gripping, extraordinary and revealing exposé of what it takes to be a champion. A tale of ambition, love, revenge, jealousy and 21st century science, based on two years of research.

Writer, broadcaster and retired British sprinter Jeanette Kwayke is Technical Consultant to the production, bringing her wealth of experience in the field of athletics to bear on the subject matter of the play.

Jeanette said, “The timing of this play could not be more apt, given the current status of doping in sport. A subject that is close to my heart, having raced and competed against those who will cross the line of ethics to get to the finish line first. I’m proud to have played a part in this production and I urge all athletes and coaches to watch.”

Juma Sharkah, who was nominated for an Olivier for her performance in the Royal Court’s Liberian Girl, will play ‘Eve’. Zoe Waites, will play her coach ‘Rona’, Shvorne Marks will play ‘Joyce’, Daniel Fraser will play ‘Tom’ and Sarah Finigan will complete the cast.

Jonathan Maitland said, “I find it incredible that some sports stars are actually willing to risk their lives, just to win a race or a game. This play is about why, and how, they get to that point.  The setting is the world of professional sport but the themes – innocence, corruption and self-destructive ambition – are universal. It could just as easily be set in the City, or the world of politics.”

Park Theatre is fast becoming recognised as a powerhouse of theatre; in just over two years, it has enjoyed two West End transfers (including Daytona starring Maureen Lipman), two National Theatre transfers, three national tours, an Olivier Award nomination and a Theatre of the Year award from The Stage.



The Roundabout, Park Theatre: Inside The Rehearsal Room

I am delighted to see that JB Priestley is back in vogue.  The Roundabout, directed by Hugh Ross opened at Park Theatre last night. The play is a recently rediscovered comedy by JB Priestley – I popped down to Park Theatre, London during the second week of rehearsals and had a lentil salad with Hugh Ross and some of the talented cast including newcomers: Bessie Carter and Charlie Field.

Hugh Ross

Hugh Ross

This is the first major revival of this play in 80 years, so why now? And what have been the biggest challenges getting it up on its feet? Director Hugh explains, “Like anything – finding the right people; every actor brings something different,” he adds: “The one rule for a director is to remember and that every single actor works in a different way. I always think about a line from Sunday in the Park with George ‘Anything you do, let it come from you – then it will be new’.”

Ross has a varied career as an actor and director appearing in a wide variety of British tv, film and theatre. He is surprisingly laid back about it all. It’s all the more remarkable, because he is bringing a play by one of Britain’s leading playwrights to the stage for the first time in nearly a century. I wonder what keeps him awake at night, “A lot of little things, most days it’s thinking that actor is not happy about something, I’m a great believer in the play,” he pauses and grins: “What happened this morning was we ran the second act and I said let’s just put this together and we went through the third act and it was like they were all trying to remember the last time, it was all too big and too rushed, nobody was thinking, nobody was listening. But, we pushed through,” says Ross.

“The play is entertaining without being stupid. It’s positioned in a sense as a drawing room comedy but because of the format of the theatre, I got together with our designer, Polly Sullivan and we decided that it should take place in the conservatory of this family home. I’m a great believer that less is more,” says Ross.

Brian Protheroe will star as Lord Kettlewell and Richenda Carey as Lady Knightsbridge. Both join me for a chat about what audiences can expect. They are visibly excited to be working on the play. “It’s a very different play to make work completely from beginning to end but when you get – what I think is a miraculously well cast play – I think it stands a chance. It’s part farce, part light comedy; but there are extreme moments of comedy,” he adds: “There is a wonderful relationship between the father and the daughter, communism is at the heart of it,” says Protheroe.

Priestley’s plea for a shared humanity is as relevant as ever today, this is prescient theatre. “The Roundabout is a very clever play and I love the bits I’m not in! People can expect something interesting that is very fun too,” says Carey. “The political element of when it was written – 1931- after the Revolution there was a big movement in Europe towards the idealism of Soviet Russia. Rather like now where there are huge tectonic plates shifting,” says Carey.

The Roundabout at Park Theatre.

The Roundabout at Park Theatre. Click on the link to book your tickets now!

The industry can be notoriously difficult for many and I’m curious to hear from a seasoned performers perspective. “My theory is you get a go every two years – you get a really good go – and then it’s someone else’s go, that’s what has seen me through,” she pauses: “Women’s parts? There’s practically none in existence – I would rather scrub lavatories than do a part that I don’t want to play – I really would,” says Carey.

At this point Lisa Bowerman starring as Lady Kettlewell joins us. She is nervous because this is her first theatre role in eight years, usually in radio. “I did the scratch reading of the play last year and at that point it was very difficult to know if there was going to be a future in it. The fact that they have raised the money is terrific,” says Bowerman. She adds: “Some people will have a preconceived idea about JB Priestley, it’s about topics that you wouldn’t expect and it turns the table on you – it has a serious heart, yet remains incredibly entertaining.”

This staging of The Roundabout not only celebrates Priestley’s legacy but salutes a man with an exceptional eye for character. Even if he occasionally lapses into cliche, Priestley understood the nuts and bolts of the theatre better than anyone. Nonetheless, this is a terrific example of a work in progress, hard work, finance and schedules all coming together. The Roundabout is in safe hands.


The Screwtape Letters – The US hit production makes its European premier at Park Theatre, this Christmas

The Screwtape Letters, the provocative and wickedly funny theatrical adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel about spiritual warfare from a demon’s point of view, will play the Christmas season at Park Theatre from 8 December 2016 – 7 January 2017, with a press night on 9 December.

The Screwtape Letters -Max Mclean

Max McLean as Screwtape

In the European premiere of the smash New York hit, The Screwtape Letters creates a morally inverted universe that reveals unseen spiritual powers and principalities in humorous, vivid and surprising ways.

“Clever and Satirical”


Set in an eerily stylish office in hell, where God is called the “Enemy” and the devil is referred to as “Our Father Below”, the play follows His Abysmal Sublimity Screwtape – Satan’s top psychiatrist due to his profound understanding of human nature – and his slavish creature-demon Toadpipe, as they train an apprentice demon, Wormwood, on how to ruin the life and damn the soul of an unsuspecting human on earth.

Max McLean returns to the role of Screwtape, which he originated and performed to sold-out audiences in New York City and across the U.S.

“One Hell of a Good Show”


Along with The Chronicles of Narnia (including The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), The Great Divorce and Mere ChristianityThe Screwtape Letters remains one of Lewis’ most popular and influential works. When first published in 1942 it brought worldwide fame to this little-known Oxford don including the cover of Time Magazine.

The idea for Screwtape came to Lewis after listening to Hitler’s Reichstag Speech on July 19, 1940, while it was simultaneously translated on BBC Radio. Lewis wrote, “I don’t know if I’m weaker than other people, but it is a positive revelation to me how while the speech lasts it is impossible not to waver just a little. . . . Statements which I know to be untrue all but convince me . . . if only the man says them unflinchingly.”

The Screwtape Letters was conceived and adapted for the stage by Max McLean and Jeffrey Fiske. McLean is Founder and Artistic Director of New York City-based Fellowship for Performing Arts. Scenic Design is by Cameron Anderson, Costumes by Michael Bevins, Lighting Design by Jesse Klug and Original Music and Sound Design by John Gromada.

Further casting announced for The Boys in the Band

Producers Tom O’Connell and James Seabright are pleased to announce further casting for the first class revival of Mart Crowley’s ground-breaking play, THE BOYS IN THE BAND, opening at Park Theatre in London this autumn, then touring to The LowryTheatre Royal Brighton and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Cast of The Boys in the Band

Cast of The Boys in the Band

There’s a party about to commence when nine men gather in a New York apartment for a birthday celebration. Harold, a self-confessed ‘Jew fairy’, receives a surprise birthday gift – a beautiful male hustler dubbed Cowboy. Meanwhile, party host Michael gets an unwanted surprise of his own in the shape of a figure from his past. As the booze is drunk and the dope smoked, the mood swings from hilarity to heart-break.

Olivier Award winner Mark Gatiss will star alongside his husband Ian Hallard in this eagerly anticipated production, which sees the pair playing ‘Harold’ and ‘Michael’.

West End musical theatre star Daniel Boys will star as ‘Donald’, Jack Derges, recently seen as the mysterious ‘Andy Flynn’ in EastEnders, will play ‘Cowboy’, Miranda star James Holmes will star as ‘Emory’, Midsomer Murders’ John Hopkins will play ‘Alan’, Primeval’s Ben Mansfield will play ‘Larry’, and Undercover’Nathan Nolan will play ‘Hank’. Further casting to be announced.

The production is directed by A Small Family Business One Man Two Guvnors’ director, Adam Penford, and will open at Park Theatre in London from 28 September 2016 – 30 October 2016, with a press night on Tuesday 4 October. The show will then embark on a short UK Tour visiting The Lowry, Salford from 3 – 6 November, Theatre Royal, Brighton from 8 – 12 November, and the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 14 – 19 November.


Improbable’s Rachael Williams appointed Executive Director of Park Theatre

Rachael Williams will join Park Theatre on 3 October 2016 as the theatre’s new Executive Director, to work alongside Artistic Director Jez Bond and the rest of the team, including Dawn James, who recently joined as Sales & Marketing Manager from the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

Rachael Williams

Rachael Williams

North London resident Rachael has been Executive Director at Improbable since October 2013. Prior to this she worked at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill, first as Assistant Producer and subsequently as Producer. She has also worked in the Development Department at English National Opera and for Creation Theatre Company in Oxford. She is a Trustee of Metta Theatre and the Bach Choir.

Rachael said, “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Park Theatre. Having lived in Finsbury Park when the theatre opened, I’ve watched this theatre go from strength to strength over the last 3 years. I’m looking forward to playing my part in producing and hosting exceptional work, reaching the widest possible audience and ensuring that Park Theatre is at the heart of Finsbury Park’s community.”

Summer 2016 also sees big changes to the area around the theatre, with the ongoing build of City North – a major residential and commercial development, due to be finished in 2020. The Wells Terrace exit of Finsbury Park Tube station will be permanently closed, in advance of a new entrance being built through the pedestrianised street of the new development. Patrons will therefore access the theatre via a different route from the underground.

Jez Bond said, “Three years on and we’re proud of our achievements at Park Theatre – but we’ve got a lot more we’d like to accomplish, and to this end I’m thrilled to welcome Rachael and Dawn to the team. Rachael impressed both our interview panel and our staff with her energy, her enthusiasm and her approach. Dawn was a standout candidate who brings a wealth of experience to the role. Both live locally and are committed to Park Theatre’s vision of being a neighbourhood theatre with a global ambition, presenting the highest quality drama. 

 They are joining at a time when our local area is seeing big and exciting changes, and as a venue we are determined to work closely with other local businesses to ensure residents and visitors continue to fully enjoy our vibrant cultural community”

 Park Theatre is fast becoming recognised as a powerhouse of theatre; in just over two years, it has enjoyed two West End transfers (including Daytona starring Maureen Lipman), two National Theatre transfers, three national tours, an Olivier Award nomination and a Theatre of the Year award from The Stage.


JB Priestley’s The Roundabout at Park Theatre – casting announced

The first major revival in eighty years of The Roundabout, a recently rediscovered comedy by one of Britain’s most prolific playwrights JB Priestley – beloved for such classics as An Inspector Calls and Time and the ConwaysThe Roundabout, directed by Hugh Ross, will play at Park Theatre from 24 August to 24 September, with a press night on 25 August.


The Kettlewells are a dysfunctional family. Richard is a charming old Etonian whose business ventures are failing. Over a crowded weekend, his daughter Pamela, whom he hardly knows, returns from Russia, a passionate communist; his ex-wife and mistress both unexpectedly arrive; and his butler has a big win at the races.

Steven Blakeley will star as ‘Comrade Staggles’, Lisa Bowerman as ‘Lady Kettlewell’, Bessie Carter as ‘Pamela Kettlewell’, Richenda Carey as ‘Lady Knightsbridge, Charlie Field as ‘Farrington Gurney’,Derek Hutchinson as ‘Parsons’, Annie Jackson as ‘Alice’, Ed Pinker as ‘Alec Grenside’, Brian Protheroe as ‘Lord Kettlewell’, Hugh Sachs as ‘Churton Saunders’ and Carol Starks as ‘Hilda Lancicourt’.

Hugh Ross said, “The Roundabout is a funny, touching, highly perceptive look at an England in the 1930s, when it seemed, just possibly, as if the social order might be changing. 

 My father, Gordon Ross, was a polymath: doctor, homeopath, painter, poet and playwright; he had a vast library of books. About 18 months ago, looking through some of them, I came upon a collection of essays, short stories and plays, which included The Roundabout, which I’d never heard of. I read it, enjoyed it hugely, and was bewildered as to its disappearance from the repertoire. It is a fine comedy, unlike most of Priestley’s other work, and also strangely topicalI also found out that the play was written for Peggy Ashcroft, who was Priestley’s mistress at the time. She played wonderful part of Pamela, and I’m delighted that Bessie Carter will be making her professional debut in the role on her graduation from Guildhall.”

Twitter @roundaboutplay


Full casting announcement for The Trial of Jane Fonda – Anne Archer joined by Christien Anhalt, Martin Fisher, Alex Gaumond, Paul Herzberg, Ako Mitchell and Mark Rose

Casting has been announced for the brand new production of THE TRIAL OF JANE FONDA, written by seven-time Emmy award-winner Terry Jastrow, and directed by Joe Harmston, opening at Park Theatre on 13 July until 20 August, with a press night on 14 July.

Casting of The Trial of Jane Fonda

Casting of The Trial of Jane Fonda

As previously announced, Anne Archer (Fatal AttractionPatriot GamesClear and Present Danger) will return to the UK to star as ‘Jane Fonda’, having first developed the role at the Edinburgh Festival in 2014. Archer was last seen on the London stage making her West End debut as ‘Mrs Robinson‘ in The Graduate at the Gielgud Theatre in 2001, to critical acclaim.

Musical theatre star Alex Gaumond joins the company as ‘Larry Bonk’. Alex’s extensive West End credits include MatildaWe Will Rock YouDirty Rotten ScoundrelsTop Hat and Legally Blonde, for which he was nominated for the Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical. The Trial of Jane Fonda will mark not only his Park Theatre debut, but also his first major non-musical role in a play.

Alex Gaumond said, “I am very excited to take on the role of Larry in this fascinating play and to work with such a brilliant cast. If the auditions are anything to go by, the group dynamic on stage will be electric. In the few years since its opening, Park Theatre has quickly established a fantastic reputation for great work, so I am delighted to be performing there this summer.

They are joined on stage by Christien Anholt playing ‘Buzzy Banks’, Martin Fisher as ‘Reverend John Clarke’, Paul Herzberg – returning to Park Theatre after starring in The Dead Wait in 2013, directed by Joe Harmston – as ‘Joe Celano’, Ako Mitchell – returning to Park Theatre after starring in Klook’s Last Stand in 2014, with an Offies Nomination for Best Actor – as ‘Reggie Wells’, and Mark Rose – also returning to Park Theatre after starring in Frozen in 2015 – as ‘Tommy Lee Cook’.

Anne Archer said, “I am utterly thrilled to be working with such a dynamic and talented cast, and look forward to our creative journey together.”

The most famous actress of her time, Jane Fonda was vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1972 she went to the capital city of North Vietnam, Hanoi, to call worldwide public attention to the Nixon administration’s cover-up of US policy of deliberately bombing the country’s vital system of irrigation dikes. During that trip she made radio broadcasts denouncing as a war crime the US use of antipersonnel bombs banned by the Hague Convention, and visited US POWs. On the final day of her trip, she was photographed laughing and clapping astride a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. This activity by Fonda caused enormous controversy and galvanized a huge hate campaign amongst the US military and supporters.
ANNE ARCHER was nominated for an Academy Award®, a Golden Globe and the British (BAFTA) Academy Award for her role opposite Michael Douglas in Adrian Lyne’s thriller Fatal Attraction.  Other key roles include her Golden Globe-winning performance in the ensemble cast of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and for playing Harrison Ford’s beleaguered wife in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. She made her West End debut as ‘Mrs Robinson’, receiving rave reviews, in The Graduate; other theatrical credits include A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking (Off Broadway), Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Poison Tree (Mark Taper Forum), and The Vagina Monologues(LA). In 2014 she starred in The Trial of Jane Fonda at the Edinburgh Festival. Throughout her motion picture career, she hasstarred opposite some of Hollywood’s most dynamic and respected leading men, including Gene Hackman in Narrow Margin, Donald Sutherland in Eminent Domain, Sylvester Stallone in Paradise Alley, Tommy Lee Jones In Rules of Engagement and Man of the House and in the romantic comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past with Mathew McConaughey, and most recently the feature film Lullaby, with a powerful ensemble cast of Garrett Hedlund, Richard Jenkins, Amy Adams, Jessica Brown Finley, Jessica Barden, Jennifer Hudson, and Terrance Howard.

Television credits include It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, starring opposite Danny DeVito and Ghost Whisperer on CBS as the mother of Jennifer Love Hewitt, Privileged (The CW) and the Fox Series The Grinder starring Rob Lowe and Fred Savage. In 2013 she co-produced her first feature film The Squeeze, written and directed by Terry Jastrow.

In 2006 she founded Artists for Human Rights (AFHR), which brings the full force of artistic expression to bear in the human rights arena by working hand-in-hand with effective human rights advocates and leading organizations worldwide to raise awareness and eradicate the most egregious human rights abuses.

Writer Terry Jastrow has produced and/or directed the television coverage of some of the world’s most important sporting events including six Olympic Games, The Super Bowl, 62 major championships of golf including the Open Championship. The plays he has written and directed include As if it Matters at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Eight One Acts over Two Nights at The Acting Center, Hollywood, California, and The Vaginal Lock at the Skylight Theatre, Los Angeles. More recently, Terry wrote and directed a feature film, The Squeeze, which was released in April 2015, and is available on-demand.

Joe Harmston’s career began 23 years ago directing the critically-acclaimed King James’ Ear by Rod Dungate at The Old Red Lion.  Since then highlights have included directing Harold Pinter in his own plays, particularly The Lover and The Collection at The Donmar and his long associations with other writers including Sir Ronald Harwood, Sir Alan Ayckbourn, Sir David Hare and Sir Peter Ustinov.  He was Associate Director of Chichester Festival Theatre and Artistic Director of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company and is still a Creative Associate Director of the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. He was last at Park Theatre directing Paul Herzberg’s The Dead Wait.

The Trial of Jane Fonda’s Set Design is by Sean Cavanagh, Composer & Sound Designer is Matthew Bugg, Video Projection Designer is Louise Rhoades-Brown, Lighting Designer is Tony Simpson and Costume Designer is Roberto Surace. Casting is by Kate Plantin CDG. General Management is by Suzanna Rosenthal for Something for the Weekend.

Facebook: TrialOfJaneFonda

Twitter: @janefondaplay

Paul Bradley to play ‘Howe’ opposite Steve Nallon as ‘Thatcher’ in Dead Sheep, written by Jonathan Maitland and directed by Ian Talbot OBE

After a record-breaking run at Park Theatre, and huge critical and public acclaim,
Jonathan Maitland’s debut play, DEAD SHEEP, directed by Ian Talbot OBE, will tour the UK from 6 September – 28 November 2016. Steve Nallon will return to the production to star as
‘Margaret Thatcher’, having portrayed her for many years on the political puppetry satire Spitting Image. Paul Bradley, best known for playing ‘Professor Elliot Hope’ in Holby City, will play ‘Geoffrey Howe’, Carol Royle will play ‘Elspeth Howe’, Graham Seed will play ‘Ian Gow / Nigel Lawson’, Tony Bell will play ‘Bernard Ingham / Alan Clark / Dennis Thatcher’ and John Wark will play ‘Stephen Wall / Brian Walden’.

It is 1989 and a seemingly invincible Prime Minister has sacked her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, thinking she had nothing to fear from him; his speaking skills had, famously, been compared to those of a dead sheep. But inspired by his wife Elspeth – a formidable and witty feminist, whose relationship with Thatcher was notoriously frosty – Howe overcame his limitations to destroy Mrs Thatcher’s political career…and also his own.

 Dead Sheep portrays the true story of how Mrs. Thatcher, the most divisive Prime Minister of modern times, was brought down by her one time friend and political soul mate Geoffrey Howe. Using imagined dialogue to portray private scenes between the main protagonists, it recreates the events leading up to Howe’s famous 1990 speech, in which he criticised Thatcher for undermining policies on economic and monetary union in Europe, ultimately leading to her downfall and resignation. Dead Sheep is the result of two years’ research, during which the playwright gained access to Geoffrey Howe himself and other prominent politicians and advisers of the era.

Paul Bradley

Paul Bradley

Jonathan Maitland is a broadcaster and writer. He reported for Radio 4’s Today programme in the 1990s, before co-presenting BBC1’s Watchdog and ITV 1’s House of Horrors.   He has presented ITV1’s flagship current affairs show, Tonight, for the last 16 years. He has interviewed, amongst others, Tony Blair, Madonna, Henry Kissinger and Bob Geldof and written for all the national newspapers. He has authored five books, including a best-selling memoir How To Survive Your Mother and Vote For Who?. His co-written screenplay about the footballer Stanley Matthews has been optioned and is in development.  Dead Sheep was his debut play at Park Theatre, which was then followed by the highly controversial An Audience with Jimmy Savile, starring Alistair McGowan, which went on to smash his existing box office record. His third play at the venue, Deny Deny Deny, which will tackle doping in sport, will open in November.

Steve Nallon plays ‘Margaret Thatcher’.  In 1984 Steve became a founding member of the Spitting Image team and it aired until 1996. Although he became most famous for providing the voice of Thatcher, he also voiced many of the show’s other characters, including ‘The Queen Mother’, ‘Alan Bennett’ and ‘David Attenborough’.  His other stage credits include Cissie and Ada, An Hysterical Rectomy (UK tour) and Carnival (Barbican), his television work includes Jonathan Creek and TV Burp and he appeared in the film 51 Degrees North in 2015.

Paul Bradley plays ‘Geoffrey Howe’. Paul played ‘Professor Elliot Hope’ for ten years in Holby City and ‘Nigel Bates’ in EastEnders for six. Other TV includes ; Bradley (his own children’s’ TV show)  Bottom, Smith and Jones, Birth Marriages and Deaths, The Kate Robbins Show, Stop That Laughing At The Back, The Young Ones, Murder Most Horrid, Boon, Comic Strip and C.U Byrne ( in Irish !). On the big screen he played ‘Yehuda Zsiskind’ in Roman Polanski’s multi Academy Award and BAFTA winning film, The Pianist. His theatre credits include Journey’s End (Comedy Theatre), Noises Off (ATG), The Relapse (NT), The Threesome (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pirates Of Penzance and Twelfth Night (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Much Ado About Nothing, Bulldog Drummond, Around The World in 80 Days (Southampton Nuffield Theatre), Charley’s Aunt (York Theatre Royal), Romeo and Juliet (Young Vic), as well as Rep seasons at Manchester University and Royal Exchange theatres.

Ian Talbot directs. He was Artistic Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until 2008, where his directing credits include Babes In Arms, The Fantasticks, Kiss Me Kate, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Oh, What A Lovely War, High Society, H.M.S. Pinafore (all nominated for Olivier Awards).  His other directing credits include The Mousetrap (St Martin’s Theatre), Yeoman of the Guard (Savoy Theatre), High Society (Shaftesbury Theatre and UK tour) and Lend Me A Tenor (Gielgud Theatre).  He has also acted at the RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End.  In 2007 he was awarded OBE for services to drama.

The Quiet House at Park theatre – a funny and gut wrenchingly honest new play, inspired by true events

The Quiet House, a blistering and honest new play about a couple’s journey to start a family by award-winning writer, Gareth Farr, is playing at Park Theatre from 7 June – 9 July, with  press night happening on 8 June, following its world premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 26 May – 4 June. The Quiet House is Gareth Farr’s second play following his Bruntwood Prize-winning debut, Britannia Waves The Ruleswhich premiered at the Royal Exchange Manchester in 2014. A funny, moving and unswervingly honest love story, The Quiet House was inspired by Gareth and his wife, Gabby’s own experience.

Jess and Dylan are in love. They want a family. That’s all they have event wanted. This ordinary couple find themselves on an extraordinary journey when they enter the world of IVF. Forced to fight for the family they so desperately want, they put their faith in science and their relationship through the ultimate test.

Oliver Lansley ( Dylan) and Michelle Lansley ( Jess) in The Quiet Home.

Oliver Lansley ( Dylan) and Michelle Bonnard ( Jess) in The Quiet Home. Click the image to book your tickets.

The cast includes Michelle Bonnard as ‘Jess’, with actor and comedian Tom Walker, aka YouTube sensation Jonathan Pie, as ‘Tony’, Allyson Ava-Brown as ‘Kim’, and Oliver Lansley (Artistic Director of Olivier nominated company Les Enfants Terribles) as ‘Dylan’.

Tessa Walker, Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre directs The Quiet House following her recent productions of Tom Wells’ Folk (The REP, Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre), Steven Camden’s Back Down (UK tour) and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The REP). Tessa was previously the Literary Director at Paines Plough and a Literary Associate at the National Theatre of Scotland.

Gareth Farr said, “I didn’t write this play as a form of therapy. I wrote it on the back of four years of fertility treatment during which I became interested in writing about something which people – particularly men – just weren’t talking about. This play is about hope. It’s about anyone who has focused so fiercely on the notion of hope, and clung to it so tightly, that it either breaks or it hardens and becomes a tangible thing.”

Jessica Hepburn said, “Fertility Fest will be a unique and uncompromising look at the pursuit of parenthood in the modern world. I think the thing that thrills me most is the number and breadth of acclaimed artists that have agreed to be involved including those who have already made work on this subject as well as others that are putting their interest in it into the spotlight for the first time. It’s a topic that has to be talked about more because despite affecting so many people it’s still a taboo. I hope Fertility Fest 2016 will begin to change this because I fundamentally believe that great artists tell it like it is and this is a subject that the world needs to hear more about.”

Sharing the stage with the festival artists who include the Liverpool Art Prize-winning artist Tabitha Moses; the multiple award-winning poet Julia Copus and West-End theatre director Matthew Dunster will be some of the country’s foremost medical experts including Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director at CREATE Fertility, Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield School of Medicine and Laura Witjens, Chief Executive of the National Gamete Donation Trust.

, ,

Director Adam Penford talks about Watership Down, The Boys in The Band featuring Mark Gatiss and more

Ahead of directing Mark Gatiss in ‘The Boys in the Band’ at Park Theatre, Adam Penford is taking on Watership Down at The Watermill. The talented director talks about the value of regional theatre and reveals that he is always dropping egg cups.

Adam Penworth

Adam Penford

You’re in rehearsals currently for Watership Down. How’s it looking?

We’re nearing the end of rehearsals and I’m having the best time. It’s an epic narrative for such an intimate venue, but I have a generous and talented company of actors and creative team, and we’re working together to find inventive and fun ways to tell the story. And the Watermill Theatre is so idyllic. Rona Munro (James Plays, NTS) wrote this adaptation for the Lyric Hammersmith 10 years ago, but Richard Adams, who wrote the novel, lives down the road and all the places referred to in the book are nearby – so it feels like we’re bringing the story home.

You are due to direct The Boys in The Band featuring Mark Gatiss at Park Theatre later this year. Will it be any good?

It’s a fascinating play and well overdue a British revival as most younger theatregoers don’t know it. It was one of the first overtly gay plays and was a controversial smash hit when it premiered off-Broadway in 1968. The premise is simple; a group of gay friends gather for a birthday party and after a lot of booze things unravel. A surprise visit by the host’s old college roommate – a straight man with a secret – tips things over the edge. Think WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, but camper. It was far ahead of its time so it’s dated very little, and yet it also looks back and plays tribute to the classic American voices of Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Eugene O’Neill. It always divided the gay community as some felt it reinforced gay stereotypes, whereas others adored it for being simply honest, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out with a contemporary audience. It’s very witty, dramatic and entertaining – packed full of zingy one-liners.

What was the last show that you watched and enjoyed?
Showboat was terrific. It was exciting seeing Gina Beck and Rebecca Trehearn nailing those strong female roles. I’ve admired all the musicals Daniel Evans has directed and produced at Sheffield and can’t wait to see how he programmes both spaces at Chichester. It’s a pity the show didn’t find a London audience, but it’s a tough sell.

What is the best musical of all time?
Probably a Rodgers and Hammerstein, or a Sondheim, or GYPSY, or GUYS AND DOLLS. But everyone always says that. So one of my favourite shows is LEGALLY BLONDE. I directed a production a couple of years ago and there is not an ounce of fat on the bones of that show. Every lyric, musical phrase, and line of dialogue is driving the narrative and character development. All the tunes are hummable, the music perfectly captures the world of the story, and it’s genuinely funny and moving.

What was the last item of crockery you broke?

I always drop egg cups.

As well as working extensively at the National Theatre, what opportunities have you been afforded in the regions? [DEATHTRAP]

I directed a production of Deathtrap earlier this year at Salisbury Playhouse which we’re hoping to tour next year. I’d previously directed Stepping Out there and it’s a lovely venue with a loyal audience. Gareth Machin, (the Playhouse’s Artistic Director), has always been supportive, we met when he was working at National Theatre Studio and he gave me my first staff directing opportunity there. Growing up in the East Midlands, my first theatre experiences were all regional (Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Playhouse, Leicester Haymarket) so I feel very passionate about the value of local theatre and would like to do more.

What makes a good Director?

I don’t think there’s a single approach to directing. It’s such a personal thing and attempting to imitate another director’s method leads to confused work. My own approach is combining an instinct for the material with a lot of research, and this leads to a vision of how to best serve the play/story. I think being able to clearly articulate that vision, whilst remaining open to collaboration, has led to the work that I’d deem my most successful.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given and by whom?

When I’m worrying about whether I should take on a project or not, Nick Hytner always tells me to just do it. His advice is to do as much of your own work as possible in the early stages of your career because it’ll make you a better director, and not to worry about trying to forge a particular career path, or how your choices and the resulting productions may be judged by the industry or press. It’s very liberating.

Can you tell us something SCANDALOUS?
Well I could tell you many things, but I’m obviously not going to.

What’s your favourite emoji?
The classic smiley. Although I still type it out laboriously like a computer illiterate fool : )