Summer Season 2014 | May to August 2014

SPOKESONG

by Stewart Parker

 
Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays,
25, 26, 27 May, 1, 2,3, 8, 9 and 10 June 2014

The first London production in nearly 40 years

Extra matinee by popular demand on Monday 9 June at 2.00pm.

“Imagine a fleet of civic bikes gleaming with the city's coat of arms stacked on covered racks on the corner of every street which anybody can ride anywhere...Earth would not have anything to show more fair.

Renowned Ulster playwright Stewart Parker's Spokesong – which won him the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright – opens at the Finborough Theatre in the first London production in nearly 40 years. Belfast, 1973. The city is being torn apart by the Troubles. But to bike shop-owner Frank Stock, the greater threat is the imminent demolition of his neighbourhood to make way for a motorway through the city. Frank thinks what Belfast needs is an antidote to the car – ‘50,000 free bicycles distributed round the city centre’. But the arrival of his estranged adoptive brother and a burgeoning romance bring the reality of the streets blasting through his shop...

A runaway hit at the Dublin Theatre Festival which transferred to both London and New York, Spokesong was last seen in London in 1977. A haunting story, blending song and a century of history, told through the lens of the humble bicycle, Spokesong is a fascinating exploration of how we process our own personal and national history.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT STEWART PARKER

Playwright Stewart Parker (1941–1988) remains one of Ulster’s most acclaimed playwrights. Following the massive international success of Spokesong, Parker then embarked on a decade of writing that saw his vision of Northern Ireland’s past and present take flight. His other works include Kingdom Come and Catchpenny Twist (1977), Pratt's Fall (1981) Northern Star (1984) which recently received its English premiere at the Finborough Theatre, Heavenly Bodies (1986) and Pentecost (1987), winner of the Harvey's Irish Theatre Award.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR GUY JONES

Director Guy Jones is a former Resident Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre.  Direction includes Twelfth Night (Orange Tree Theatre), On Reflection (Southbank Centre and Body Gossip), Caterpillar (Bush Bounce), The Ripple Effect (Richmond Theatre as part of the Cultural Olympiad), What Will Survive of Us (Islington Community Theatre and the National Theatre), No Wonder (National Student Drama Festival and the Library Theatre, Manchester), How Hard it Happens and Beowulf (Edinburgh Festival). He is an Associate Artist of Islington Community Theatre. As an assistant director Guy has worked with the National Student Drama Festival Ensemble on Touched (North Wall Arts Centre and Latitude Festival).

ABOUT THE CAST

Ben Callon | The Trick Cyclist

Trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Theatre includes A Little Bit OCD, Eliza and the Wild Swans (BikeShed Theatre, Exeter), Wounded (Birmingham REP), Bristol Ferment (Bristol Old Vic), The Good Soul of Szechuan, Macbeth, Hamlet, Tom Jones, King Lear, The Nativity, Talking to Terrorists, Hay Fever, Punk Rock, Therese Raquin (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School), Hard Times the Musical and What the Dickens! (The Tobacco Factory, Bristol).
Television includes Doc Martin.

Stephen Cavanagh | Frank

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Blackwater Angel.
Trained at Gaiety School of Acting and the British-American Drama Academy.
Theatre includes A View From The Bridge, The Lonesome West, Journey’s End, Coriolanus, Death of a Salesman, Romeo and Juliet, The Dance of Death (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), Srebrenica (Tricycle Theatre and UK Tour), Dial ‘M’ for Murder, Pleasure and Pain, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), The Comical Mysteries, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Civic Theatre, Dublin), Code of the West, Good Morning, Alamo! (Tabard Theatre), Melmoth the Wanderer (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh), Bell, Book and Candle (Greenwich Playhouse), Hurried Steps, Riddance (Cockpit Theatre), Being Norwegian (The Karamel Club), The Night Pirates (UK Tour), Mountain Language (The Albany), Breaking News: The Rachel Corrie Ban (Theatre503), Three Tall Women and A Moon for the Misbegotten (Irish Tour).
Film include Dream On, Krish and Lee and Hamlet.

Elly Condron | Daisy

Trained at Drama Centre London.
Theatre includes Measure for Measure (Lion Pub) and Framed (Etcetera Theatre)
Film includes Wasp.
Short films include IT, Scene 25, Group 37, Orange, Strangers When We Meet, To Have and To Hold, Girls’ Night, Step Right Up and Here Comes the Sun.

Paul Mallon | Julian

Trained at Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre.
Theatre includes Macbeth, Uncle Vanya, Blocked (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), The Miniaturists (Arcola Theatre), Digging for Fire, Dying City (Rough Magic Theatre Company), Both Side (Ransom Theatre Company), Translations (The Curve, Leicester), True North – The Cleanroom, True North – God’s Country (Tinderbox Theatre Company), Bad Behaviour (Frantic Assembly), Off Plan – A New Adaptation of the Oresteia (Project Arts Centre, Dublin), Seesaw, Tom’s Midnight Garden (Library Theatre, Manchester), Antigone, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (Waterfront Studio, Belfast), Blue Remembered Hills (Bruiser Theatre Company), Patriaslava (Russia) (Queens Theatre, Belfast), After the Blood Rush (Palace Theatre, Manchester), The Exam (Merseyside Young People's Theatre), Danny, King of the Basement (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Marvin’s Room, A House of Pomegranates, A Laughing Matter, Twelfth Night and Three Sisters (Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre).
Television includes The Inquiry, London Irish, Wodehouse in Exile, Shameless, The Royal Today, Coronation Street and Bradford Riots.

Melanie McHugh | Kitty

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Over the Bridge.

Trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Theatre includes Blushing (Landor Theatre), Durang/Durang (Jermyn Street Theatre), Twelfth Night (Creation Theatre Company, Oxford), Shining City (Greenwich Theatre and National Tour), Dancing At Lughnasa (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Pedro The Great Pretender, Tamar's Revenge, The Dog in the Manger (Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre), The Art of Success (Arcola Theatre), The Playboy of the Western World, Peer Gynt, Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre), Silas Marner (Tivoli Theatre, Dublin), Blood Wedding (Northern Stage, Newcastle), Playgirl, Rumpelstiltskin (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, Summerhouse (Druid Theatre, Galway), The Illusion (Charabanc Theatre Company, Belfast), The Lament for Arthur Cleary (7:84 Theatre, Scotland) and Translations (Chandler Theatre, Glasgow)
Radio includes Burnt Bolognaise, Brush Up Your Shakespeare and Never Say Die.
Writing includes three short plays Bungalow, Clocked and Blushing, performed at the Landor Theatre.
Voiceover includes audiobooks for Audible.co.uk and the RNIB.

Jack Power | Francis

Theatre includes Dancing at Lughnasa, Noises Off, Hay Fever, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Theatre By the Lake, Keswick), Vivat Vivat Regina, Chopped Hamlet, The Circle (Chichester Festival Theatre), Collinder (Theatre Royal Bath), Great Expectations (Northern Stage, Newcastle), The Taming of the Shrew (UK Tour), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Broken Glass (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Duchess of Malfi, The Herbal Bed (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Canterbury Times (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), The Vanek Plays (The Young Vic), Measure for Measure (UK Tour for Thelma Holt Productions), Dial M for Murder (Farnham Repertory Theatre), Book of Job (Theatre Royal Norwich), Macbeth (UK Tour), Othello, Speed the Plow, Twelfth Night (Factotum Theatre) and The Cherry Orchard (Capitol Theatre).
Film includes The Violent Patient, It’s Good To Talk and Last Post.
Television includes The Bill, Hello From London, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, London’s Burning, Dr Who, Toby and Rosie’s Story and Campion.

THE PRESS ON SPOKESONG

★★★★★ Five Stars Everything Theatre

“Frank's got this ridiculous idea. He thinks - get this - that 500 bicycles should be made available (for free!) so people can get around the city, the air can be cleaner and everyone can just get along a whole lot better, decanted from their metal missile cars. But this production is no celebration of 21st century Boris Bikes; it's plea for decency in early 70s Belfast.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“Spokesong is a delight…A whimsical story about a pair of bicycling fantasists has turned into something darker, as the shop becomes an allegory for the benighted country.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“This is the first London production of the acclaimed Ulster playwright’s provocative work in nearly 40 years. When it first ran, it proved a runaway hit at the Dublin Theatre Festival, which transferred to both London and New York and enjoyed international success. “ Shelley Marsden, The Irish World

“A runaway success, full of wit, great performances and much entertainment.” Jemma Anderson, A Younger Theatre

“Spokesong is the kind of debut that goes far beyond showing promise, addressing major issues in a sensitive but highly entertaining manner.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Unmissable….A funny, profound and insightful look at eighty years of Irish history…Writing, direction, acting and design all come together beautifully to make this amazing piece of theatre.” Eva de Valk, Everything Theatre

“Some strong acting especially from Stephen Cavanagh and Elly Condron.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“It also benefits from a series of songs that help the tale to flow, primarily delivered by the lilting voice of the Trick Cyclist, Ben Callon also expertly playing a series of lively minor characters.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Sung magnificently by Ben Callon.” Gary Naylor, Broadway World

“A deservedly loving revival under the direction of Guy Jones.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“An evocative set designed with great imagination by Bethany Wells, which will excite any cycling enthusiasts.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“One hopes that it is a success and this ever-adventurous theatre in Earls Court continues to bring Stewart Parker's wonderful oeuvre back into the public eye.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“A brilliant piece of writing that’s been beautifully put on in a venue that’s absolutely perfect for it. So, hop on a Boris bike and go see it.” Eva de Valk, Everything Theatre

THE PRESS ON STEWART PARKER

“Mr. Parker speaks to the present through the past, using comedy, satire, parody and a seriousness that is nonetheless deadly for its being lightly drawn...Seldom has Irish history been so provocatively or so entertainingly drawn on the stage.” Irish Times 


"His love of language and his impressive control of structure belie the calmly naturalistic surface, creating a skilfully layered evening that draws you further and further into the hearts and minds of his characters.” The Independent

"The finest playwright of his generation.” The Guardian

“Stewart Parker's death robbed Belfast of its most distinctive and entertaining dramatists.” Culture Northern Ireland

"He was an inspiration...a guiding star to set your course by.” Daragh Carville

"Stewart Parker was a playwright whose sense of history and elegance of wit and feeling were unusual in the British Theatre." The Observer

THE PRESS ON SPOKESONG

“A dazzling play that combines warmth of sentiment with great emotional strength and intellectual playfulness...a gorgeously rich play.” New York Post

“In its spookily contemporary subject matter, it feels as though it could have been written yesterday.” The Stage

"Amidst the pain and suffering blooms genuine humour.” Culture Northern Ireland

“Its humour and wordplay defied the prevailing mood, while its experimental shifts from realism to stylised vaudeville signalled the arrival of a huge playwriting talent.” The Guardian

THE PRESS ON DIRECTOR GUY JONES

“A compelling and moving experience” The Manchester Review on No Wonder

“A touching performance” The Guardian on No Wonder

“There is much to like about this intense piece that looks at grief, loss and loneliness in two very different settings.” The Scotsman on How Hard it Happens

TICKETS AND TIMES

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays
25, 26, 27 May, 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 June 2014

Sunday and Monday Evenings at 7.30pm, Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm

Performance Length: TBC.

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

PLEASE NOTE THAT LATECOMERS CANNOT BE ADMITTED AND TICKETS CANNOT BE EXCHANGED OR REFUNDED.

Directed by Guy Jones

Designed by Bethany Wells

Musical Direction and Composition by Ben Osborn

Lighting by Elliott Griggs

Produced by Rebecca Targett

Presented by Simmer Dim in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

BEN CALLON

STEPHEN CAVANAGH

ELLY CONDRON

PAUL MALLON

MELANIE MCHUGH

JACK POWER