January - March Season 2013


by David Gooderson 

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 January 2013 

The world premiere 

The entire run is now completely sold out. Returns only.

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

“It’s my word against theirs. With the establishment and the press against me, what chance have I got?”

Well loved national hero, or predatory paedophile?

So Great a Crime tells the true story of "Fighting Mac" – Sir Hector MacDonald – who rose from humble beginnings as a crofter's son through the ranks of the British Army to become a knight of the realm, hero of the Battle of Omdurman and Queen Victoria’s favourite general.

His active soldiering days over, he was appointed General Officer Commanding in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), but soon finds himself in conflict with the high born elite who run the colony. Allegations of liaisons with young boys surface and MacDonald is forced to return home. Rather than face a court martial, he shoots himself in a Paris hotel. 

But was he guilty? Or was he the victim of a plot fabricated by an English Establishment, motivated by jealousy and snobbery, at a Gaelic-speaking upstart who got above himself? 

A fascinating journey into an unsolved historical mystery...



David Gooderson is also an actor best known for his television work which includes Davros in Dr Who, Simpkins the Pathologist in ITV’s A Touch of Frost as well as roles in Portraits and The Potting Shed at the Finborough Theatre. His writing includes The Killing of Mr Toad, seen at the Finborough Theatre in 2009 and at the King's Head Theatre in 1983; four plays broadcast on Radio 4 and five plays for children, co-written with David Conville and all produced at the Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park including a musical adaptation of The Wind in the Willows (music by Carl Davis) which has twice broken box office records, and played two Christmas seasons in the West End. He also edited My Dearest Mouse, a facsimile edition of Kenneth Grahame’s letters to his son. His directing includes The Playboy of the Western World with Stephanie Cole and Christopher Biggins (Salisbury Playhouse) and Staff Direction for English Touring Opera.


“The Finborough's never been a theatre to drag its heels about getting topical issues onto its stage, doing things like staging fully-formed plays about a revolution while that revolution's still going on. It's hard not to spot a certain topicality to their first Sunday-Tuesday show of 2013 as well - the story of a once much-loved public figure and knight of the realm whose reputation was destroyed by allegations of paedophilia.” Partially Obstructed View

“This production should not be missed.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“This is one soldier’s life you may not have known about, but one you will now never forget.” Kate Hudspeth, Bargain Theatreland

“A masterclass in the inventive craft of theatre in regards to using resources, which fill the stage of the imagination with a cast of thousands, to stage scenes from battles to ballrooms by effective suggestion.” Eleanor MacFarlane, The Upcoming

“A brilliant polemic against our cruel desire to prejudge sexual scandals” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Some bright young button at the BBC should scoot along to the Finborough and snap up this script.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Into a tragic thriller full of contemporary resonances. Fighting Mac was a celebrity in the Edwardian world. His stern, resolute features were distributed on cigarette cards and Empire tea caddies around the globe. When he was court-martialled, he became headline news overnight. And he knew that even if he beat the charges his reputation would never recover...” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“This intense and thought-provoking drama is skilfully directed by David Gooderson and performed by an outstanding cast.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“The Finborough is the perfect environment for Stuart McGugan to unleash his powerful performance as Macdonald.  The absolute stand out from the cast, you cannot keep your eyes off him” Kate Hudspeth, Bargain Theatreland

“Stuart McGugan as Macdonald perfectly inhabits the part of a man who can effortlessly command armies, yet is a fish out of water around society manners.” Eleanor MacFarlane, The Upcoming

“Stuart McGugan, playing the lead, grows convincingly from a truculent misfit into a bear-like tragic hero, and towards the end he reaches peaks of heart-tugging grandeur.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Stuart McGugan paints a marvellous portrait of a man - Sir Hector MacDonald – whose inability to fit in with an elite that pulls all the strings leads to his downfall.” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Stuart McGugan gives us a memorable Macdonald” Quentin Letts, Mail Online
“A complex, edgy performance of the role by Stuart McGugan, one of several outstanding actors” Mark Valencia, WhatsOnStage

“Act Two is sure-footed from first beat to last as the unhappy Hector spirals down towards the unjust inevitability of his fate. McGugan is magnificent here and he more than earns the indignation that ripples through the audience on his behalf. Indeed, the actor's achievement, and that of his writer-director, is to honour the play's double-edged title and ensure that after eleven decades the maligned Sir Hector MacDonald finally has his day in court.” Mark Valencia, WhatsOnStage

“The silky-voiced Philip York is marvellously devious as a genial toff who knifes Fighting Mac between the shoulder blades” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

"Philip York is very good as the scheming Hugh Phipps” UK Theatre Network

“A strong performance from Hayward Morse, slipping easily from squaddie Bob into Lord Robert’s red coat, a particularly interesting performance which embraces both his admiration for the soldier who is his protégé and his lack of understanding of a man from a different background.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“James Woolley is excellent” Carolin Kopplin, UK Theatre Network

“Lyndam Gregory makes a strong contrast as Vikram da Saram the Singalese bank official who becomes Sir Hector’s friend.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“The formidable Elizabeth Counsell, double-cast, brings nuanced depth to two very different titled ladies” Mark Valencia, WhatsOnStage

“Elizabeth Counsell, all feathery hair and perfumed diction, gives a superb portrait of Edwardian hypocrisy as the Lady Governor.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Elizabeth Counsell equally convinces as the shallow, hare-brained Lady Christina and assuming the resigned dignity of a soldier’s wife." UK Theatre Network


Louie Bayliss
At the Finborough Theatre, Louie appeared in Lemon Love (2009).
Trained at Guildford School of Acting.
Theatre includes Men in Coats (Royal Variety Show at the Hackney Empire), Greedy (Edinburgh Festival and New York), Fairytaleheart (Chichester Festival Theatre), Crimes of Passion (Nottingham Playhouse) and All My Sons (Oxford Playhouse).
Film includes Peacock Season.
Television includes The Mentalist, Hotel Babylon and Judge John Deed.

Elizabeth Counsell
At the Finborough Theatre, Elizabeth has appeared in The Beautiful People (2008) and The Killing of Mr Toad (2009).
Theatre includes Present Laughter (Vaudeville Theatre),M Butterfly (Shaftesbury Theatre), The Corn is Green (Old Vic), Jean Seberg (National Theatre), Salad Days (Vaudeville Theatre),Noël and Gertie (Jermyn Street Theatre), Valentine’s Day (Globe Theatre), 101 Dalmatians (Nuffield Theatre), The Glass Menagerie (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), The Haunted Hotel (National Tour), An Inspector Calls, The Birthday Party (Clwyd Theatr Cymru), Park Avenue (Sadler's Wells) and Blood Poison (Award winner at Brighton Arts Festival) and Blood Poison (Award winner at Brighton Arts Festival).
Film includes Grace of Monaco
Television includes six series of ER, Lock Stock, Nelson’s Column, Executive Stress and Brush Strokes.
Radio includes The Narnia Chronicles and Oliver Twist.

Lyndam Gregory
Trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Theatre includes Twelfth Night (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Woman in Mind (Octagon Theatre, Bolton) and Fourteen Songs ,Two Weddings and a Funeral (Tour). Film includes The Glass Arena. Television includes Surgical Spirit, London’s Burning, Bread, Rumpole of the Bailey, The Lenny Henry Show, The Bill, Capital City, Brookside, Doctors and EastEnders. Radio includes Indian Ink, Mutiny on the Bounty and The Archers. He has recorded a number of audio books including Midnight’s Children.

Stuart McGugan
Theatre includes The Good Person of Sichuan (National Theatre), The Memory of Water (Vaudeville Theatre). The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union (Donmar Warehouse), Small Poppies (The Young Vic), The Holly and the Ivy, Tunes of Glory (National Tour), Living Quarters (Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), Babes in the Wood (Glasgow Pavilion) and The Shutter Falls (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh )Film includes Christmas Vacation ’97. Televisions includes It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hamish Macbeth, Mike and Angelo, Tutti Frutti, Benidorm, Taggart, Wish Me Luck, Footballers’ Wives, Silent Witness, Boy Meets Girl, The Royal, Murphy’s Law, Family Affairs and Doctors. Radio includes Inside Out,Silver Street, Self Control, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, The Immortals and I Can Do That.

Hayward Morse
At the Finborough Theatre,Hayward has appeared in Eden’s Empire (2006), Weapons of Happiness (2008), A Day by the Sea (2008) and Portraits (2011). Trained at RADA. Theatre includes the original production of What the Butler Saw (Queen’s Theatre), Butley (Morosco Theatre, New York City), where he received a Tony Award nomination, the original production of The Rocky Horror Show (King’s Road Theatre), Travels with My Aunt (National Tour and English Theatre, Vienna), The Hatpin (Blue Elephant, Camberwell), The School for Wives (Upstairs at the Gatehouse) and The Spanish Tragedy (Rose Theatre, Bankside). Film includes Tam Lynn, Agency, Death Wish 3 and The Scared of Death Society. Television includes Footballers’ Wives, and James May’s Manlab.Radio includes Lester Nicholson in The Archers. He has also recorded over a hundred unabridged audiobooks.

James Woolley
Theatre includes Fallen Angels (Apollo Theatre), Present Laughter (Gielgud Theatre),The Colour of Justice (Tricycle Theatre, National Theatre and National Tour), Called to Account (Tricycle Theatre), Mary Goes First and The Making of Moo(Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond),Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry), Shadowlands  (Salisbury Playhouse) and Twelfth Night (Northcott Theatre, Exeter).
Film includes What a Girl Wants, I’ll be There, Framed and Down Dog. Television includes Only Fools and Horses, Last of the Summer Wine, Coupling, Filth, The Borgias, My Family, Hotel Babylon and The Brides in the Bath. Film includes What a Girl Wants, I’ll Be There, Framed and Down Dog.

Philip York
Theatre includes Telstar (New Ambassadors Theatre), The Mousetrap (St Martin's Theatre), Beyond Reasonable Doubt (Queen’s Theatre), Danton’s Death, Lorenzaccio, The Prince of Homburg (National Theatre), Lies Have Been Told (Trafalgar Studios), Twelfth Night, Macbeth (Royal Shakespeare Company), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Where’s Charley? (Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park), Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, War Music (The Old Vic), Arms and the Man, The Case of Rebellious Susan, Mary Goes First, The Making of Moo and The Charity that Begins at Home (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond). Film includes Love in a Dangerous Time. Television includes Heartbeat, Rosemary and Thyme, A Touch of Frost and EastEnders.


★★★★ Four Stars WhatsOnStage

“A sad delight…I enjoyed every minute of it”. Robert Hewison, The Sunday Times

“A fine play…an engrossing series of under-stated scenes” Dick Vosburgh, Punch

“An entertaining and mordant piece”. Giles Gordon, The Spectator

“A haunting evening “ Martin Hoyle, The Financial Times

“Unusual, imaginative and superbly acted, this is a wonderful theatrical experience" WhatsOnStage



Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 January 2013

Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm.

Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm 

Tickets £14, £10 concessions


Directed by David Gooderson

Designed by Alex Marker

Lighting by Chris Withers

Sound by Max Pappenheim

Presented by D2 & Co in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre