Spring-Summer Season 2017 | April-July 2017
The first London production in over 60 years
“I find most good men occupied in designing and strengthening cages. I do not like cages. I think that the few minutes between the door of the cage and the jaws of the cat make life worth living.”
Village headmaster William Gillie is killed by the furniture van coming to take away his possessions, as he is being evicted from his home when his school is closed down. He has spent his entire teaching career fighting the Education Board’s narrow idea of schooling, trying to inspire his pupils to strive for great creative lives. Having lost his school and his home and with none of his pupils quite finding the wings to fly free, his life is examined by a heavenly Procurator and Judge. For all his efforts to inspire great artistic freedom, did he actually achieve anything in his life? Or is the very act of trying and hoping enough?
Combining lovingly drawn characters with James Bridie’s trademark dry wit, this wry comedy explores the impact one individual human life can have.
Mr Gillie was first produced at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, in 1950, starring Bridie’s regular collaborator Alistair Sim; transferred to the Garrick Theatre in London for a successful West End run and was subsequently filmed by Tyrone Guthrie for the BBC.
Playwright James Bridie (the pseudonym of Dr Osborne Henry Mavor) was born in Glasgow in 1888. He studied medicine at Glasgow University. His best known works include Dr Angelus (1947), recently a huge success when rediscovered by the Finborough Theatre; Tobias and the Angel (1930); The Anatomist (1931), Tyrone Guthrie’s first London production; A Sleeping Clergyman (1933), featuring a tour de force performance by Robert Donat; The King of Nowhere (1938), starring Laurence Olivier; Mr Bolfry (1943); and Daphne Laureola (1949), a huge hit for Edith Evans and Peter Finch which ran for a year at the Wyndham's Theatre. He also wrote memoirs, adapted Ibsen, Molière and Chekhov and collaborated on three screenplays for Alfred Hitchcock: The Paradine Case (1947), Under Capricorn (1949) and Stage Fright (1950). His commitment to Scottish theatre included co-founding both the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, and the first school of drama in Scotland (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). He was also instrumental in the creation of the Edinburgh Festival, and a tireless campaigner for a National Theatre for Scotland. He died in Edinburgh in 1951.
Director Jenny Eastop is the Artistic Director and Producer of Mercurius for which she has directed The Waiting Room (Leicester Square Theatre and Above the Arts Theatre), The Alchemist, The Devil Is An Ass, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and A Trick to Catch the Old One (all at The Rose Playhouse, Bankside), Anton Chekhov’s Vaudevilles (Jermyn Street Theatre), and School for Wives (White Bear Theatre) for which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director. Jenny has also directed for companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe, National Theatre Studio and London New Play Festival, including the premiere of Peter Nichols’ new play So Long Life (Tobacco Factory, Bristol), Warde Street (Park Theatre) for which she received an OffWestEnd nomination for Best Director, and Henna Night (Leicester Square Theatre). Jenny has worked as Associate Director to Michael Blakemore on The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Blithe Spirit, with Angela Lansbury (Gielgud Theatre and US Tour), Embers (Duke of York’s Theatre), Democracy (National Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre, Broadway, and Sydney Theatre Company), Afterlife (National Theatre), Three Sisters (Playhouse Theatre). Resident Direction includes working with Roger Michell on Blue/Orange (Duchess Theatre) and The Homecoming (National Theatre), and Matthew Warchus on The Devil Is an Ass (Royal Shakespeare Company).
“A vivid, touching and memorable study of a well-meaning man” The Tatler
“The play is marked by Mr Bridie’s customary dry humour and penetrating wit” Theatre World
“The finest character study that had come his [Alistair Sim’s] way” The Times “Mr Bridie does set out to amuse us, and in this he succeeds splendidly” The Spectator
“A splendid evening…James Bridie was once a power in the theatre, but is long forgotten and this revival at the Finborough reveals just how good he was…The Finborough’s decision to look again at Bridie is fully justified.” William Russell, Reviewsgate
“Dr Angelus deserves to be seen by a much bigger audience than its present run at the Finborough will permit.” Robert Tanitch, Mature Times
“Bridie’s lost play is in fact a classic, and highly timely.” Stuart McMillan, The Upcoming
“Great credit to the show’s director Jenny Eastop” ★★★★★ LondonTheatre1 on Warde Street
“Bang on direction by Jenny Eastop” ★★★★ WhatsOnStage on Warde Street
“A very tight production” ★★★★★ LondonTheatre1 on The Devil Is An Ass
“Director Jenny Eastop tightened the tension in the air and distilled whisky-strong, plastic-melting performances” ★★★★ QX Magazine on The Waiting Room
“This production is further proof of the exceptional theatre we have in the UK” ★★★★★ The New Current on School for Wives
Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm.
Performance Length: TBC
Tickets £18, £16 concessions