March to June 2011 | A season of work by women playwrights


by Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan

Tuesday, 29 March – Saturday, 23 April 2011

The European Premiere of the musical by Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan
Part of “In Their Place” – a three month season of work by women playwrights and composers

Nominated for five Off West End Awards including
Best Production
Best Director for Luke Sheppard
Best Female Performance for Kaisa Hammarlund
Best Designer for David Woodhead
Best Lighting Designer for Howard Hudson

" Arriving early can be worse than being late... especially if you are attending a dinner party or your wife is having an affair with your friend.”

The European Premiere of the off-Broadway musical Bed and Sofa with music by Polly Pen and libretto by Laurence Klavan, and directed by acclaimed young music theatre director Luke Sheppard.

Nikolai lives with Ludmilla, a housewife who stays at home dreaming of romance. Moscow has a housing shortage, so when Volodya arrives with nowhere to live he is invited to share the couple’s cramped quarters with surprising results.

This enchanting three-character "silent movie musical", based on Abram Room's scandalous 1926 Russian film comedy, is an elegant homage to the genre. Using some of the words from the title cards in the film and weaving these with new material, it’s a truly unique piece of music theatre that brings to life a ménage-a-trois with a twist. Played without an interval, its whimsical score and haunting libretto is at once both comedic and heartbreaking.

Bed and Sofa originally premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in New York, where it garnered two Obie Awards (including Distinguished Music) and seven Drama Desk nominations (including Best Musical). It has since been revived several times off-Broadway and across America. This new production at the Finborough Theatre marks the European premiere of this captivating and innovative piece.


is proud to support Bed and Sofa



"A delight…First rate…A classy treat… A new work that both honors the original and gives it a sternly funny stage life of its own." New York Times

"Wonderful…A must see…So perfectly done it is almost unfair to the rackety hacks who infest our musical theater." Village Voice"Enchanting…Exquisite…A wholly original piece of musical theatre!" NY Newsday

"Fresh and endearing..As original as it is impudent..The show has jaunty music by Polly Pen and a jazzy text by Laurence Klavan." NY Magazine


Composer Polly Pen is an Obie Award winner for the score of Bed and Sofa, which received seven Drama Desk nominations. Her first Off-Broadway production as both composer and co-author, Goblin Market, received five Drama Desk nominations and the Best Plays Special Citation for Musical Composition and Adaptation. Other works include The Night Governess (McCarter Theatre), Her Lightness (Sarasota Opera), The Dumb Cake (a radio musical for NPR), Embarrassments (Wilma Theatre) and Christina Alberta’s Father (Vineyard Theatre, which received a Richard Rodgers Award, an Obie and a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Music. Polly is the recipient of several NEA grants, The Kitty Carlisle Hart Award, the Flora Roberts Award and the Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Award for Musical Theatre. She has been a National Theatre Artist-in-Residence at McCarter Theatre as a recipient of a PEW/TCG Grant. Polly’s current project Open Mouth Ceremony has been honoured by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio residency. She has served on the board of Dramatists Play Service and on the Council of The Dramatists Guild. In another life, Polly has worked extensively as an actor on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatres throughout the country.


Lyricist Laurence Klavan received two Drama Desk nominations for the book and lyrics to Bed and Sofa. Other writing credits include The Magic Act , Sleeping Beauty, The Show Must Go on, If Walls Could Talk, Gorgo's Mother, Brave New World: American Theater Responds to 9/11, Speakeasy, Hurricane Season, Battle of the Bards. His one-act play The Summer Sublet is included in Applause Books' Best American Short Plays 2000-2001. He was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and received commissions from the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Vineyard Theatre and the Wilma Theatre, where he wrote the musical, Embarrassments, with composer Polly Pen. It was developed at the O'Neill Music Theatre Conference and premiered at the Wilma in December 2003. Laurence also writes novels and for television.


Alastair Brookshaw's theatre includes Shoes (Sadler's Wells), Hot Mikado (Watermill Theatre) Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre), Cabaret (Lyric Theatre), Through The Door (Trafalgar Studios), A Very Private Beach and For The Public Good (English National Opera), 57 Hours (National Theatre Studio) and Mathilde (Vaudeville Theatre). Recordings include the West Side Story 50th Anniversary Recording and he can be seen in Rufus Norris' short film King Bastard.

Kaisa Hammarlund's theatre includes The Three Musketeers (Rose Theatre), A Day Before Spring (Sadler's Wells), A Little Night Music (Garrick Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory), They're Playing Our Song (Menier Chocolate Factory), Take Flight (Menier Chocolate Factory), Sunday In The Park With George (Wyndham's Theatre and Menier Chocolate Factory), Desperately Seeking Susan (Novello Theatre), Cabaret (Lyric Theatre) and Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales and International Tour).

Alastair Parker's theatre includes Matilda (Royal Shakespeare Company), BBC Proms – Sondheim at 80 (Royal Albert Hall), The Secret Garden (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Silk (Orange Tree), The Wizard of Oz (New Vic), Alice In Wonderland (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Two Woman for One Ghost, Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, HMS Pinafore (Open Air Theatre, Regents Park), Jerry Springer – The Opera (National Theatre, BAC and Edinburgh), Honk!, The Merchant of Venice, The Villains Opera (National Theatre) and Oliver (London Palladium).

Penelope Keith who has just completed a run in The Rivals in the West End, lends her distinctive voice to the role of the Announcer and guides us through the proceedings. While she will not appear in person in the production, her pre-recorded contribution lends a characteristically British tone to this UK Premiere.


Director Luke Sheppard was the inaugural recipient of the Noël Coward Trainee Director Bursary and spent a period training at Salisbury Playhouse, having graduated with a first class degree in Drama from Bristol University. He was a finalist in the JMK Award 2010 and was invited to take part in the National Theatre Director’s Course. As Artistic Director of Take Note Theatre, Luke directed the premieres of Jet Set Go (Theatre503 and Jermyn Street Theatre - Time Out Critic’s Choice) and The Great British Soap Opera (Jermyn Street Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe), which was nominated for Music Theatre Matters:UK Best Production and Best New Musical, as well as I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Edinburgh Festival). Other directing includes 24 Hour Plays (Old Vic), Fantastic Mr Fox (Wilde Theatre), The Wonderful World of Dissocia and A Girl In A Car With A Man (Wickham Theatre) and Handbag (AR2). Credits as Assistant Director include the new musical adaptation of Matilda (Royal Shakespeare Company), Into The Woods (Open Air Theatre), Private Lives (Salisbury Playhouse) and Hamlet (Tobacco Factory). Luke has also worked as Movement Director on First Lady Suite (Union Theatre), Peter Pan and Wizard of Oz (Wilde Theatre), Force 9 ½ (Upstairs at the Gatehouse) and Music of Chance (National Theatre Studio). Luke also works regularly with Youth Music Theatre UK.


Musical Director Candida Caldicot's credits include The Vaudevillains (Les Enfants Terribles), Hansel and Gretel (New Wimbledon Studio), First Lady Suite (Union Theatre), A Man of No Importance (Associate - Arts Theatre and Union Theatre), Jet Set Go (Jermyn Street Theatre), Cinderella (New Wimbledon Theatre), All Bob's Women (Arts Theatre, London) and The Marilyn Monroe Show (Brighton Spiegeltent). She also played keyboards for The Sound of Music at the London Palladium and was rehearsal pianist for La Cage Aux Folles at the Chocolate Factory and in the West End. She works with various drama schools, most notably Trinity College of Music where her credits include The Pirates of Penzance, Lost and Found, Best Friends and Butterflies. Recently she worked with Climar Productions to create West End Glee Club, and composed music for The Wind in the Willows (Iris Theatre), The Hostage (Southwark Playhouse), Macbeth (Marau, Austria) and Alcestis (Actor's Church, Covent Garden). Candida has a music degree from Cambridge University where she was also awarded an Instrumental Award for chamber playing.


Set Designer David Woodhead graduated from LIPA with a first class degree in Theatre and Performance Design and was a finalist in the Linbury Prize for Stage Design. Credits include Love and Understanding (BAC), Twelfth Night (Greenwich Playhouse), Falsettoland (Edinburgh Festival), Six Ways (Jermyn Street Theatre and Edinburgh Festival) and costume for Knives in Hens (Arcola Theatre). David is currently designing Kindertransport, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Hedda Gabler which will play in rep at the Linbury Studio at LAMDA. As an assistant to Christopher Oram, his credits include Passion, King Lear, Spelling Bee (Donmar Warehouse) and Don Giovanni (Metropolitan Opera).


Lighting Designer Howard Hudson has just won an Off West End Award for Best Lighting Design for his work on Me and Juliet at the Finborough Theatre.


Take Note Theatre exists to bring lesser known musical works to new audiences as well as encouraging, producing and developing their own shows through to full production. Bed and Sofa marks their third UK premiere of an off-Broadway success, following First Lady Suite (Union Theatre) and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Edinburgh Festival). The company developed and produced Jet Set Go which transferred to Theatre503 for a limited run, and then Jermyn Street Theatre in an all new production attracting critical acclaim. This was followed by The Great British Soap Opera and Chat which both played the Edinburgh Fringe and short London runs. Neil Franklin, producer for Take Note Theatre, is delighted to be partnering with Claire Evans, Resident Producer at the Finborough Theatre, and Co-Producer of the Finborough Theatre's recent sell out success, Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Me and Juliet.


"Bed and Sofa is a refreshingly stark contrast to the usual West End tourist favourites. This intimate production of a rather frank but nevertheless surprisingly topical subject can only be applauded. A fine example of why the fringe is an important and vital part of London's theatre scene." Jennifer Reischel, Fringe Review

‎"Kaisa Hammerlund is simply stunning as Ludmilla, encompassing perfectly all complexities of this torn woman" Jennifer Reischel, Fringe Review

‎"It is quite astounding to see a small (extremely well conducted) orchestra residing near the ceiling above the action" Jennifer Reischel, Fringe Review

‎"A startlingly honest and wonderfully expressive musical version of a lost art form with a haunting score, where not their conversation but the actors' facial expressions and gesturing become a focal point in understanding their feelings and journey." Jennifer Reischel, Fringe Review

‎"This is the most delightfully unusual musical to see at the Finborough.... It is ingeniously designed with the tiny flat complete and in character while the string musicians perform the music with a sense of delightfully warm tones on the roof of the flat... It is a completely jelled production....a gem that sparkles and brings a wit with compassion. Don't miss it." Blanche Marvin, London Theatre Reviews

‎"as pleasant added bonuses we get the recorded voice of Penelope Keith reading some of the film's ironic between-scenes commentary, and a delightful little toy train." Gerald Berkowitz, London Theatre Guide

‎"Under the direction of Luke Sheppard and the musical direction of Candida Caldicot, Alistair Parker (husband), Kaisa Hammarlund (wife) and Alistair Brookshaw (boarder) sing beautifully and capture all the quiet humour of the story" Gerald Berkowitz, London Theatre Guide

‎"There is a nicely witty edge to a song in which the woman realises that both she and the USSR government have bad luck in choosing their men, and a melodic trio in which the three sing of their separate dreams is lovely and satisfyingly complex in a Sondheimish way, recalling the 'Soon/Now/Later' trio in A Little Night Music while retaining its own individual sound." Gerald Berkowitz, London Theatre Guide

‎"A shower of five stars for all: the performers, the creative team, and especially to Luke Sheppard, who directs with a fine-tuned sensitivity and an excellence that belies his years. Very impressive: if the run doesn't sell out, I'll eat my shapka." Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

‎"It is impossible to take one's eyes off Kaisa Hammarlund - her performance and singing are captivating, commanding." Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

‎"The scene at the movies was so focused I couldn't resist turning my head in case more magic was taking place behind me. But the magic was in front of me." Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

‎"In pale commedia dell'arte faces and stylised movements the performers negotiate the tiny space deftly (credit to movement director Lucy Cullingford)." Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

‎"The set is fabulous in its realism, replicated almost exactly, with its Stalin calendar and her photo on the wall. David Woodhead has squeezed in all the furniture and the Bolshoi pediment... Bulgakov's Professor Woland must have taken over the Finborough, for how else to explain that all fits with room to spare for an audience. Where there's a will..." Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

‎"Her music (for violin, viola, cello, and piano/conductor) has Russian harmonies, his book and libretto gently mock faux Trotsky, Stalin and Marxist texts, delivered by Penelope Keith's voiceover announcer in exquisitely sardonic tones." Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide

‎"whether you are a fan of Soviet satire and Soviet films of the 1920s or not matters not a bit to delight in Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan's faithful but oh so witty rendering of Abram Room's 1927 silent movie" Vera Liber, British Theatre Guide


Tuesday, 29 March – Saturday, 23 April 2011

Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm.
Sunday matinees at 3.00pm.
Saturday matinees at 3.00pm (from 9 April 2011).

Performance Length: Approximately 90 minutes with no interval.

29 March - 10 April 2011

Tickets £15, £11 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £11 all seats, and Saturday evenings £15 all seats.
Previews (29 and 30 March) £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, 2 April 2011 when booked online only.

12 April - 23 April 2011

Tickets £18, £15 concessions

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



Music by Polly Pen

Libretto by Laurence Klavan

Based on the film by Abram Room

Directed by Luke Sheppard

Musical Direction by Candida Caldicot

Movement Direction by Lucy Cullingford

Design by David Woodhead

Costume Design by Simon Anthony Wells

Lighting by Howard Hudson

Sound by Edward Lewis

Bed and Sofa received its world premiere at the Vineyard Theatre, New York City.

Presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd

Presented by Take Note Theatre Ltd and Claire Evans in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre

With Penelope Keith as voice of The Announcer