June to August 2011 | 15 Premieres 1 Rediscovery


by Rebecca Gilman

Tuesday, 2 August – Saturday, 27 August 2011

"This play contains male nudity and is not suitable for children"

Time Out Critics' Choice
**** Four Stars, Time Out
**** Four Stars, The Times
**** Four Stars, The Guardian
**** Four Stars, London Theatre Reviews
**** Four Stars, The Public Reviews
Four Stars, Evening Standard
**** Four Stars, WhatsOnStage

The UK Premiere


He's a 38 year old cop. She's an 18 year old prostitute. They're in love. What could possibly go wrong?

Curt is a small-town cop in Midwest America under pressure to close down the local massage parlor. But after an encounter with one of its occupants, Sandy, his job suddenly becomes anything but clear-cut. As Curt and Sandy embark upon an unlikely relationship, they realize they might just achieve the American Dream. Yet when events begin to get out of control, they find escaping the past is much more difficult than it seems...

Set against challenging questions about the class struggle in America today, this moving love story between cops and hookers is a tale of expectations missed and overcome, a play about the narratives we all write for ourselves and how fortune and single moments can change our lives


Playwright Rebecca Gilman plays include The Glory of Living, Spinning into Butter, Boy Gets Girl and The Sweetest Swing in Baseball. She was the first American playwright to win an Evening Standard Award for The Glory of Living (seen in the UK at the Royal Court Theatre), which also won the George Devine Award, was named one of Time magazine's Best Plays of the Decade, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Spinning into Butter (also seen at the Royal Court) received a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play and the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays. Her other plays include Boy Gets Girl and The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, both seen at the Royal Court in the UK. Her work has been produced in the US at such venues as the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York, the Public Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Manhattan Class Company, as well as other theatres internationally. A native of Alabama, she was awarded the 2008 Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Most Distinguished Writer of the Year. Blue Surge was originally presented at the prestigious Goodman Theatre, Chicago, and was subsequently seen at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater. This production marks its UK premiere.


Director Ché Walker returns to the Finborough Theatre where he made his directorial debut with Achidi J's Final Hours in 2004 and where he directed the sell-out Etta Jenks, starring Daniela Nardini and Clarke Peters (2005). Other Theatre includes Been So Long (Young Vic and English Touring Theatre), Extended Family (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Glory of Living (BAC), Estate Walls, Little Baby Jesus (Oval House), Lovesong (English Touring Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe), Car Thieves (National Theatre Studio) and Dance for Me (Tricycle Theatre). Ché's writing includes Been So Long (The Young Vic and Royal Court Theatre), The Frontline (Shakespeare's Globe), Iphigenia (Southwark Playhouse), Flesh Wound (Royal Court Theatre), Crazy Love (Paines Plough), Car Thieves (National Theatre Studio), Carmen (Open Air Theatre), Dance For Me (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Rootz Spectacular (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry). He is also writing the book for The Eighth, a new musical with music and lyrics by Paul Heaton of The Beautiful South for this year's Manchester International Festival as well as writing his own musical adaptation of The Bacchae with Arthur Darvill for English Touring Theatre. This year, Ché will direct the feature film adaptation of his original musical, Been So Long from his own screenplay for Greenacre Films/UKFC and is also developing an original television series with the BBC.


Kelly Burke recently graduated from RADA. For the Finborough: In World, Green (Vibrant! Festival) Other theatre includes Zelda at the Charing Cross Hotel (OffWestEnd Award Nomination, Best Female Performer), Avocado (Kings Head Theatre), Marie and Bruce (Royal Court Theatre) and Inherit the Wind (Bug Theatre, Denver). Radio includes The Big Sleep, The Little Sister, These Are the Times (BBC Radio 4).

Samantha Coughlan. Theatre includes The Children’s Hour (Comedy Theatre), Rain Man (Apollo Theatre), Death of a Salesman (Lyric Theatre), National Anthems (The Old Vic), Orpheus Descending (English Theatre of Berlin) and Steel Magnolias (Octagon Theatre, Bolton). Film includes The Bends, Rabbit Fever, Love Sick, and Viva Liberty. Television includes Spooks, Absolute Power, Deckies and Above Suspicion – Silent Scream.

Alexander Guiney's theatre credits include The Hotel Play and Marie and Bruce (Royal Court Theatre), Crave (Camden People’s Theatre), Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The Tempest, Strindberg’s Apartment and The Robbers (Faction Theatre Company), Romeo and Juliet (Harlow Playhouse) and US Love Bites (Etcetera Theatre). Film includes Dark Country, From This Day, Fracture and The Man Who Forgot How To Write. Alexander is a founding member of the Faction Theatre Company.

James Hillier last performed at the Finborough Theatre playing the leading role in the sell-out UK premiere of Tennessee Williams' Something Cloudy, Something Clear, directed by Tamara Harvey, in 2003. Other Theatre includes Lulu (Almeida Theatre), The Homecoming (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), Closer (Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton) and A Clockwork Orange (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow). He is a familiar face on television following his long running role as Sergeant Christian Young in Holby Blue as well as appearing in numerous TV programmes and films including Great Expectations, Survivors, The Four Feathers and Blackbeard.

Clare Latham's theatre credits include Strindberg’s Apartment (Faction Theatre Company), Crave, A Doll’s House Revisited and At the Broken Places (Saviour Theatre Company), The Skin of Our Teeth and The Typists (Lost Theatre, London). Off-Broadway in New York, Clare played Lady Anne in Richard III (Orb Theatre at the Flamboyan Theatre) and directed and produced Been So Long by Ché Walker.


Time Out Critics' Choice
**** Four Stars, Time Out
**** Four Stars, The Times
**** Four Stars, The Guardian
**** Four Stars, London Theatre Reviews
**** Four Stars, The Public Reviews
**** Four Stars, Evening Standard

“I’m puzzled that this fine play has taken 10 years to get here. Four of playwright Rebecca Gilman’s other plays have made swifter transfers to the Royal Court and this is at least as good as them.” Gareth James, garethjames.wordpress.com

“This is the UK premiere of a play first presented in Chicago in 2001, and it's surprising that it has taken so long to come here.” Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

“Rebecca Gilman’s four previous plays have been presented at the Royal Court, and with The Glory of Living she became the first American playwright to win an Evening Standard Award. To be able to produce her latest, already a success in the US, is a proud feather in the Finborough’s cap, and her intense and moving portrait of class divisions is powerfully served here by its cast of five and by Ché Walker’s direction.” Jeremy Kingston, The Times

“At a time when the American dream is starting to look more doubtful than ever, the UK premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s play about social immobility and frustration in the US Midwest is particularly apt.” Nicholas Hamilton, The Stage

“This a play in which the American Dream suffers an eclipse, caused by the reality of poverty, although the sun of optimism occasionally peeks out.” Alex Sierz, The Arts Desk

“Ché Walker’s enjoyable production, with its excellent soundtrack and economic set, James Hillier turns in a powerful performance as Curt... Sandy’s path to self-knowledge. Equally watchable are Alexander Guiney as Doug, Kelly Burke as Heather and Samantha Coughlan as Beth.” Alex Sierz, The Arts Desk

“Seriously entertaining.” Naima Khan, Spoonfed

“It is so colourfully performed by the entire cast creating people that are real. The direction is fluid and beautifully paced while the lights are carefully blended into the scenes… It is the Finborough at its best…..smooth and polished.” Blanche Marvin, London Theatreviews

“The dialogue is newly minted, the humour character-driven…Director Che Walker and his cast fully explore this to create moments of super-charged drama…thrilling to watch and perfectly pitched by James Hillier and Rebecca Coughlan.” Pauline Flannery, Extra Extra

“If August in riot-riven London is not hot enough for you, why not consider spending an evening with two charming hookers at the Finborough Theatre?” Alexander Radzyner, LondonTheatreGoer

“Rebecca Gilman’s stark, compelling world is enhanced by evocative lighting design by Neill Brinkworth, and rock soundscore by Edward Lewis…Blue Surge, larger than the sum of its parts, is up there with Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and David Mamet in an unbroken chain of broken American dreams.” Pauline Flannery, Extra Extra

“Rebecca Gilman is an American dramatist who writes about hot topics with unsensational honesty. Having dealt with stalking in Boy Gets Girl and racism in Spinning into Butter, she now tackles a middle-aged cop's fixation with a young prostitute…A ruefully observant study of shared solitude and social determinism.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Gilman shows, with quiet compassion, is the instinctive kinship between two screwed up people.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Gilman deftly conveys how Curt's feelings of isolation inform his bond with the equally solitary Sandy. She also shows the pernicious ways in which social class and family expectation (or lack of it) can shape individuals' destiny: material poverty guarantees a poverty of opportunity.” Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

“Ché Walker’s production works well in Georgia Lowe’s simply designed set, excerpts of melancholy jazz and Americana enlivening scene changes…engaging, and frequently very amusing, theatre.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“Che Walker's production makes great use of the small space at Finborough Theatre and he gets excellent performances out of his cast.” Naima Khan, Spoonfed

“The play benefits from the intimacy of the Finborough and Che Walker’s direction is subtle and sensitive.” Gareth James, garethjames.wordpress.com

“Ché Walker's intimate production is lit up by intelligent performances.” Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

“Director Ché Walker keeps it simple, letting Rebecca Gilman's complex, absorbing script do the talking… a sober and heartfelt portrayal of the American poverty trap.” Nina Caplan, Time Out

“The acting is excellent with a very well balanced cast.” Alexander Radzyner, LondonTheatreGoer

“A fine cast.” Nina Caplan, Time Out

“Latham’s edgily thoughtful playing is lovely to watch, graced with quiet smiles that catch the heart. Hillier vividly indicates the family shame seething within him and which blasts forth in the great row between him and Samantha Coughlan’s dismayed Beth. This is an evening of great theatre.” Jeremy Kingston, The Times

“There’s a lovely restraint and deftness to many of the early scenes between Curt and Sandy; brought to the fore by excellent acting. Latham is particularly strong, effortlessly capturing the stubborn, hard won maturity of Sandy.” Peter Clapp, theatrefixblog.co.uk

“Claire Latham as Sandy is superb – smart and funny, with a vulnerable core.” Pauline Flannery, Extra Extra

“Some excellent acting. James Hillier oozes a raw masculine sexuality as Curt, almost haunted by his decency and unable to believe that things could ever really be different for him, and connecting beautifully with Clare Latham’s Sandy, an Ellen Page-like performance of quirky normality.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“Ché Walker's production hits exactly the right note of pained intimacy. James Hillier as the aspirational working-class Curt and Clare Latham as the better-educated and more business-like Sandy also admirably convey a growing mutual attraction” …Samantha Coughlan is suitably condescending as Curt's girlfriend.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“There's satisfying work from Kelly Burke, Alexander Guiney and Samantha Coughlan. But it's Clare Latham as the solemn, hollowed-out Sandy and the tensely expressive James Hillier as Curt who impress the most.” Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

“There’s great comic work from a goofy Alexander Guiney... a cracking Kelly Burke.” Ian Foster, The Public Reviews

“The American accents are excellent, without benefit of the dialect coaches bigger theatres employ with nowhere near as good results.” Gareth James, garethjames.wordpress.com

“I discovered the small Finborough Theatre about three years ago. It consistently manages to produce high quality theatre, encourages new writing talent, attracts young people to the theatre. The atmosphere is friendly and enthusiastic;and recently it has equipped itself with air conditioning. What more can a theatre-goer interested in seeing intelligent, modern plays ask for?” Alexander Radzyner, LondonTheatreGoer

“This is a cleverly structured play with excellent characterisation and its beautifully performed. What more can you ask for? The Finborough on fine form again.” Gareth James, garethjames.wordpress.com


"Blue Surge never cheats and yet manages to surprise as it unfolds with increasing intensity. The climax is persuasive, shatteringly beautiful, and absolutely right." Peter Rainer, New York

"Remarkable...Gilman is – quite unabashedly – an old-school dramatist,c onjuring recognizable characters and situations...She does not think theater should be a metaphor for life or a poetic expression of life, but rather that it should BE life." --Joanne Kaufman, New York

“A writer of surprising gifts" Chicago Tribune

"Gilman has the undeniable virtue of focusing with lucidity and evenhandedness on subjects that are more often sensationalized in the popular arts." Ben Brantley, The New York Times

"Gilman's characters resist simple cliches, and their progress – or lack of it – is detailed with compassion and wit." Elysa Gardner, USA Today

"Gilman's writing is heartfelt and the narrative crackles along with plenty of surprises." Chris Jones, Variety


"A dangerous, searching, brilliant play" John Peter, Sunday Times on Spinning into Butter

"This is a drama that will send audiences arguing into the night, and one that cries out to be seen”. Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph on Spinning into Butter

"Exerts a fiercely intelligent grip... an engrossing play" Michael Billington, The Guardian on Boy Gets Girl

"What can one say? Except that plays don't come much tougher, or more compassionate, than 33-year-old American Rebecca Gilman's The Glory Of Living... It's a viscerally powerful piece... Gilman's real theme in this powerfully unnerving play is the desolation of her native soil." Michael Billington, The Guardian on The Glory of Living


Tuesday, 2 August – Saturday, 27 August 2011

Tuesday to Saturday Evenings at 7.30pm.
Sunday Matinees at 3pm.
Saturday Matinees at 3pm (from 13 August 2011).

Performance Length: Approximately 120 minutes with a 15 minute interval.

2 August – 14 August 2011

Tickets £15, £11 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £11 all seats, and Saturday evenings £15 all seats.
Previews (2 and 3 August) £11 all seats.

£5 tickets for Under 30’s for performances from Tuesday to Sunday of the first week when booked online only.

£10 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 6 August 2011 when booked online only.

16 – 27 August 2011

Tickets £18, £15 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £15 all seats, and Saturday evenings £18 all seats. 



Written by Rebecca Gilman

Directed by Ché Walker

Designed by Georgia Lowe

Lighting by Neill Brinkworth

Costume by Rachel Szmukler

Presented by Mark Cartwright in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.