September to October 2011  | Autumn Season

LULLABIES OF BROADMOOR
– A BROADMOOR QUARTET´╗┐

Four plays by Steve Hennessy

 
Tuesday, 30 August – Saturday, 1 October 2011

The London Premiere

Venus at Broadmoor – The Demon Box – The Murder Club – Wilderness

Eight years in the making – the four linked plays of Steve Hennessy's Lullabies of Broadmoor – A Broadmoor Quartet weave together the closely linked stories of five of Broadmoor's most notorious inmates of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with the stories of those they murdered. The sequence of plays form a rich, dark, Gothic tragicomedy about murder, love, madness, personal responsibility and redemption.

As part of preparations for this production, the creative team were given special access to Broadmoor Hospital. The four plays are also scheduled to be performed inside various mental health facilities. The production arrives at the Finborough after performances in Frome, Bristol, Brighton and a full run at the Edinburgh Festival.

The quartet is bound together by John Coleman, Principal Attendant on the Gentlemen's Block at Broadmoor. The four plays use the same cast, and some characters appear in more than one play. Following the acclaimed London premiere at the Finborough Theatre of the first two plays in the quartet in 2004, now all four plays can be seen together for the first time ever. Performing in two evenings of two plays a performance, the plays are performed in repertoire, and can be seen in any order, separately or together. On seven days during the run, it will be possible to see all four plays in a day.

Venus at Broadmoor
1870. The madness of love. A string of random poisonings around Brighton result in the admission of Christiana Edmunds to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. The penny dreadfuls call her the Chocolate Cream Poisoner, but she prefers to be called Venus. Dr. Orange is struggling to understand why. Principal Attendant Coleman is struggling to stay off the drink. The Broadmoor Annual Ball is approaching. Christiana just wants to dance. Based on the true story of Broadmoor's most notorious female patient.

The Demon Box
1872. Inside Broadmoor. Inside the black box of the theatre. Inside the head of Richard Dadd. On a trip to Egypt, the great Victorian artist Richard Dadd believed that he had been contacted by the god Osiris. Upon his return, at the god's bidding, he murdered his father. He spent the rest of his life in Bethlem and Broadmoor. While there he spent nine years working on his eerie masterpiece 'The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke'. In 1872 he was given the job of renovating the theatre at Broadmoor ...

The Murder Club
1922. Murder is in the air. The British Government is engaged in a genocidal war in Iraq using poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction and two notorious murderers are meeting in Broadmoor for the first time. Small time conman Ronald True murdered the prostitute Olive Young. Embittered out of work actor Richard Prince murdered matinee idol William Terriss at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre. Now the two men have been put in charge of an evening of entertainment at Broadmoor. The Murder Club was commissioned by the Finborough Theatre to tell the infamous history of a murder committed on the Finborough Road itself, just down the road from the theatre.

Wilderness
A journey from the battlefields of the American Civil War to the cells of nineteenth century Broadmoor by way of one of the most famous murders in Victorian Lambeth. This is the story of William Chester Minor, one time surgeon in the American Union Army and a major contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT STEVE HENNESSY

Playwright Steve Hennessy has had twenty one plays staged throughout the UK including Bristol, London, as well as four radio plays broadcast in the UK and Ireland. He was Playwright-in-Residence at the Finborough Theatre from 2004 to 2007 where the first two plays in the quartet – The Murder Club and Wilderness – were produced in 2004. His play Still Life won the Venue Magazine Best New Play Award, and Moonshadow (2009) was a recent Time Out Critics' Choice.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR CHRIS LOVELESS

Acclaimed young director Chris Loveless trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He is Artistic Director of Fallen Angel Theatre Company and an Associate Director of the White Bear Theatre and Stepping Out Theatre. Directing credits include The Demon Box at the Finborough Theatre as part of Vibrant – An Anniversary Festival of Finborough Playwrights (2010), The Remains of the Day, named Evening Standard Critics' Choice (Union Theatre), Normal (Tobacco Factory), Moonshadow, named Critics' Choice and Show of the Week in Time Out, Dracula, and The Custom of the Country, named Time Out Critics' Choice (all White Bear Theatre), Venus at Broadmoor, Vampire Nights, Ray Collins Dies On Stage, Walter's Monkey and Thursday Coma (all Alma Tavern Theatre, Bristol), Stairway to Heaven, for which he was nominated for OffWestEnd.com's Award for Best Director (Blue Elephant Theatre) and Blavatsky's Tower (Brockley Jack Theatre). www.chrisloveless.com

ABOUT THE ACTORS

Chris Bianchi's theatre includes King Lear, The Provok'd Wife, The Seagull (The Peter Hall Company at The Old Vic), The Nutcracker, Filumena (Bath Theatre Royal), Julius Caesar , Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory), A Christmas Carol, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Blue/Orange (Tobacco Factory), Aesop's Fables (Bristol Old Vic and International Tour), No Loud Bangs series, The Rivals, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, Penetrator and Addicted to Love (Bristol Old Vic), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Charlotte's Web (Duke's Theatre, Lancaster), Ministry of Fear, A Flying Visit, The Crowstarver , Bonjour Bob (Theatre Alibi National Tour) and Clown (Travelling Light).

Chris Courtenay's theatre includes A Christmas Carol (Trafalgar Studios), Henry VIII (Shakespeare's Globe), The New Morality, Wilderness, The Murder Club (Finborough Theatre), The Master and Margarita, Akhmatova's Salted Herring (Menier Chocolate Factory), Romeo and Juliet (Jermyn Street Theatre), The Dybbuk (King's Head Theatre), Fallen Angels (Vienna's English Theatre), Julius Caesar (Leptis Magna), The Blue Room (Tabard Theatre), Rumplestiltskin and Other Grizzly Tales (Wimbledon Studio Theatre), The Public Eye (Etcetera Theatre) and Macbeth, Hamlet (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival). TV, Film and Radio includes The Chilcot Enquiry', Royal Wealth, Alice and Camilla, Credo , Déjà Vu, The Furred Man, The Bed Guy, and Thor Heyerdahl in BBC Radio 4's A Thor in One's Side.

Chris Donnelly's theatre includes A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Othello, The Winter's Tale, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure For Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory), The Winter's Tale (Southwark Playhouse), Twelfth Night and Macbeth (US Tours), Bent (Courtyard Theatre), Edge of Darkness (National Tour) and One Flea Spare (Old Red Lion Theatre). TV includes Four Seasons, Vital Signs, Fat Friends, Silent Witness, Wire in the Blood, EastEnders, Drop the Dead Donkey, Casualty, Reckless, Wycliffe and The Verdict. Radio includes Soldier Soldier, Call Waiting and Gilgamesh – all award winning plays for BBC Radio 4.

Violet Ryder's theatre includes the critically acclaimed Brief Encounter (Kneehigh Theatre), Pride and Prejudice (Bath Theatre Royal and National Tour), Venus at Broadmoor (Alma Tavern Theatre), The Walker Tribe, A Case of Deception (The London Quest Company), Richard III, Love's Labour's Lost (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival), From Lamplight to Limelight and The Passing Preciousness of Dreams (Canterbury Festival).

THE PRESS ON THE MURDER CLUB AND WILDERNESS

"Powerfully performed...by the same set of actors, the dramas are like distorted images of each other, as they juggle with issues such as responsibility and redemption and the relationship between illegitimate individual acts of murder and publicly sanctioned mass killing. The result is a piquant mix of witty Gothic ghoulishness and serious moral questioning... absorbing and atmospheric" Paul Taylor, The Independent

"This macabre, grisly, but often funny double bill grabs the audience by the dramatic throat and hardly lets go for more than two hours...the psychological carnage is left behind long after the blood has been hosed away...every character is created with care and finely executed...a consistently interesting, though harrowing evening." Derek Smith, The Stage

"Tragi-comic, black humour leavens these sad stories ...Multi-layered, clever, compact, yet ranging widely, Lullabies of Broadmoor demonstrates sensitive writing...Hennessy has written and produced a gem as part of the Finborough's writers–in–residence season." Vera Liber, Plays International

"A double bill of plays that remind you why intimate fringe venues can touch parts other theatres can't. The Murder Club, is a rumination on the glamorisation of murder, the public's lust for gory details and the mass murders that go unpunished (and unreported) on the other side of the world. Set in 1922, Hennessy has intelligently woven in, as backdrop, the British Commission in Iraq...the play is a thought-provoking piece, directed with fluidity and poise in a restricted space. In the final minute it swiftly shifts from its established delicacy of manner to a visceral wrenching; bringing form and content into focus to make a very powerful end." Adam Brace, The Irish Post

"Steve Hennessy's entertaining script revels in macabre surrealism tempered by shrewd psychology and historical research ...Drawing on real cases, Hennessy weaves an ornate tapestry of emotional manipulation...Such is the fertility of Hennessy's mind that his shadowy gothic world compels you to keep watching." Helen Chappell, What's on in London

"This isn't a musty period drama or a whodunnit, but a no-holds-barred assault on our moral and sexual conventions, our assumptions about sanity and madness and on a society that claims to be civilised, yet seems to thrive on war ... Hennessy has done an outstanding job of using this macabre true story of 'moral insanity', murder and sex to lay bare the hypocrisy of our own tormented society." Tom Mellen, The Morning Star

"Darkly funny...frequently disturbing...a combination of acute psychological insight and political and historical breadth ...A rich mix of characters and themes" Tom Philips, Venue Magazine

"No doubting the quality both of writing and construction in Steve Hennessy's double-bill; his characters resonate in the mind the morning after ....Hennessy has a flair for visual moments that summarise character and writes satisfyingly gritty, fluent dialogue... The Finborough has searched out yet another individual theatre voice from whom we ought to hear more. Timothy Ramsden, Reviewsgate

TICKETS AND TIMES

Tuesday, 30 August – Saturday, 1 October 2011

The doublebills can be seen separately and in either order, but Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box are better seen first.

Tuesday 30 August | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box Preview

4 Plays in 1 Day – Wednesday 31 August
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box Preview
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness Preview

Thursday 1 September | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness Preview

4 Plays in 1 Day – Friday 2 September
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box Press
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness Press

Saturday 3 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Sunday 4 | 3.00 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Monday 5 | No Performance

Tuesday 6 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Wednesday 7 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Thursday 8 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Friday 9 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

4 Plays in 1 Day – Saturday 10 September
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Sunday 11 | 3.00 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Monday 12 | No Performance

Tuesday 13 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Wednesday 14 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Thursday 15 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Friday 16 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

4 Plays in 1 Day – Saturday 17 September
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Sunday 18 | 3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Monday 19 | No Performance

Tuesday 20 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Wednesday 21 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Thursday 22 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Friday 23 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

4 Plays in 1 Day – Saturday 24 September
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Sunday 25 | 3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box 

Monday 26 | No Performance

Tuesday 27 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

4 Plays in 1 Day – Wednesday 28 September
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

Thursday 29 | 7.30 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box

Friday 30 | 7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness

4 Plays in 1 Day – Saturday 1 October
3.00 | Venus at Broadmoor and The Demon Box Last Performance
7.30 | The Murder Club and Wilderness Last Performance

Performance length of each double bill: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval.

Strong language and sexual content mean these plays are not suitable for children.

Tickets £14, £10 concessions

except Tuesday Evenings £10 all seats, and Saturday evenings £14 all seats.

Previews (30 and 31 August and 1 September) £10 all seats, £5 tickets for Under 30’s.

£10 tickets for residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on Saturday, 3 September 2011 when booked online only.

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here

BOOKING ONLINE IS QUICKEST, CHEAPEST AND EASIEST!

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

Written by Steve Hennessy

Directed by Chris Loveless

Designed by Ann Stiddard

Lighting Design by Tim Bartlett

Sound by Hoxa Sound

Costume Design by Rebecca Sellors

Presented by Stepping out Theatre in association with Chrysalis and Simon James Collier.

CHRIS BIANCHI

CHRIS COURTENAY

CHRIS DONNELLY

VIOLET RYDER