Three comediettas by J. P. Wooler

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 September 2018

★★★★★ Close-up Culture
★★★★★ London Pub Theatres
★★★★ The Spy In The Stalls

“Be assured if ever I should marry, I should do so simply to be revenged on your whole sex…”

Rediscovering and celebrating the work of Victorian playwright J. P. Wooler (who died in 1868, the year the Finborough Theatre building was constructed – the exact 150th anniversary of his death will occur during this run of performances), A Winning Hazard is an evening of three of his comediettas which combine insightful observations on the hypocrisy and vanity of the English ruling class, coupled with characters and situations that are both deeply Victorian, but also vividly progressive in their views on gender, money, and class.

A Winning Hazard (1865) centres on Dudley Croker and Jack Crawley who are unsuccessfully vying for the hands of two young ladies, Aurora and Coralie Blythe. When Dudley’s uncle Colonel Croker threatens to exclude both of them from his will unless they marry, they decide to win their respective partners by concocting a fake duel…
This was the very first play produced by Marie Wilton (one of London’s very earliest female theatre managers) at the Prince of Wales’ Theatre in 1865, starring both herself and her future husband, Sir Squire Bancroft. Both Sir Squire and Lady Bancroft are buried in Brompton Cemetery, close to the Finborough Theatre.

Allow Me to Apologise (1850s) sees Miss Fanny Fairlove get tangled in a cross dressing seduction intrigue with Mary Myrtle and Harriett Seymour. Taking on her ward Goliah Goth’s name and thus his male privileges, Miss Fairlove visits Harriett in Bath and rekindles the love they forged the previous summer, only to take it away with the arrival of Captain Seymour, the man who is hopelessly in love with Miss Fairlove and whom she decides to marry.

Orange Blossoms (1860s) – Septimus Symmetry is a famed woman-hater – until he is visited in his garden by his friends and relations who are determined to get him to face his greatest fear: marriage. When his guests arrive, they discover that they all have histories of unfulfilled love – with each other. And, to his horror, Septimus find himself besotted by Loo who is famed for her hatred of men. He decides to upset the apple cart by reigniting old flames and fanning jealousy to prove his point about the absurdity of marriage and society.

The run will be accompanied by the FINBOROUGHFORUM, a series of informal post-show discussions followed by a Q&A session, on Sunday evenings: 16 and 23 September 2018.

All events are free to ticket holders of the same evening’s performance.  FINBOROUGHFORUM events will all be Twitter friendly with live tweets from @FinboroughForum. Using the hashtag #finfor, the speakers will also answer questions posted on Twitter so everyone can be included, no matter where they are in the world. 

The first event will feature a Q&A session with Sarah Richardson - Associate Professor of British History at the University of Warwick, and members of the cast and company.


Sunday 16 September 2018

Panel discussion and Q&A with the cast and production team, and special guest, Sarah Richardson - Associate Professor of British History at the University of Warwick, and author of The Political Worlds of Women: Gender and Politics in Nineteenth Century Britain. 

Sunday 23 September 2018
Panel discussion and Q&A with the cast and production team.


Playwright John Pratt Wooler was born in 1824. He was a prolific playwright, producing over sixty short comedies, farces, serio-comedies and libretti during the 1850s and 1860s, performed at many of the leading theatres of the day. He died in Islington on 18 September 1868.


Director Phillip James Rouse makes his London debut at the Finborough Theatre. Phillip is a prolific and much acclaimed director and writer from Sydney, Australia. Phillip has been the Artistic Director of Don’t Look Away Theatre Company whose works have been nominated for over ten awards in Sydney and Melbourne. Phillip’s previous work includes Night Slows Down (Kings Cross Theatre, Sydney), Frankenstein, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and The Rivers of China (Theatre Works, Melbourne), Inner Voices and Babes in the Wood (The Old Fitz, Sydney), The Legend of King O’Malley (La Mama Courthouse, Melbourne, and Seymour Centre, Sydney). He assisted on Arcadia and After Dinner (Sydney Theatre Company), Birdland (Melbourne Theatre Company), and observed at Opera Australia on the Verdi masterpiece Falstaff. He trained at National Institute of Dramatic Art.


Robert Benfield | Colonel Crocker (A Winning Hazard), Sir Peter Pedigree (Allow Me to Apologise), Colonel Clarence (Orange Blossoms)

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include The White Carnation and its subsequent transfer to the Jermyn Street Theatre.
Theatre includes Strangers on a Train (English Theatre, Frankfurt), Blood Wedding and The Bacchae (Royal and Derngate Theatres, Northampton), The Importance of Being Earnest, The Families of Lockerbie, Blithe Spirit and Chicken Soup with Barley (Nottingham Playhouse), Chicken Soup with Barley (Tricycle Theatre), The Story of Vasco, Double Double, Games, Journey to London, The Marrying of Anne Leete, Myth Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America, Summer Again, Engaged, The Mob, Saint’s Day, Macbeth, All in the Wrong and Overboard (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith (Jermyn Street Theatre), Corpse! (Salisbury Playhouse), Hobson’s Choice, Love in a Maze and The Clandestine Marriage (Watermill Theatre, Newbury) and The Railway Children, Racing Demon, Three Sisters, Neville’s Island, Pravda, The Merry Wives of Windsor, On Golden Pond, The Comedy of Errors, Golden Girls, Charley’s Aunt, Twelfth Night, Not Now Darling, The Elephant Man and The Taming of The Shrew (Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich).
Film includes The Backseat, See, The Final Shot, The Line, Leves Miserables: The Phone Hacking Inquiry Musical and Pipe Up.
Television includes Stella, The Widower, Doctors, Sherlock 2, Londoners, Emmerdale, Law and Order, Buildings of Importance and Indelible Evidence.
Radio includes The Ode to St Cecilia, St Patrick, In the Reign of Terror, St Francis of Assisi, Beric the Briton, The Dragon and The Raven, Jessica’s Prayer, Titus, Under Drakes Flag and Oliver Twist.

Jasmine Blackborow | Miss Fanny Fairlove (Allow Me to Apologise), Louisa (Orange Blossoms)

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include After October.
Trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Theatre includes Othello and Much Ado About Nothing (Pop-Up Globe, Auckland, and International Tour), Grey Man (Theatre503), Now This Is Not the End (Arcola Theatre), Dracula (New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme), Hood (Theatre Royal Nottingham) and All or Nothing (Edinburgh Festival).
Theatre while training includes Enemies, As You Like It and The Seagull (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama).
Film includes AAMIR which was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, Arcadia, Lady Macbeth, The Swallow and Alone.

Evelyn Lockley | Aurora Blythe (A Winning Hazard), Kitty/Mary Myrtle (Allow Me to Apologise), Violet Hope (Orange Blossoms)

Trained at Arts Educational Schools London.
Theatre includes The School for Scheming (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), Gingerbread (Almeida Theatre), Desolate Heaven (Theatre503), Confidence/Supply, Swipe and Frolleagues (Southwark Playhouse), Farrago, Final Track and Glass Boys (Arcola Theatre), X&Y (Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith), How to Write a Topical Play (Old Red Lion Theatre), Mad Queen’s Chess (Park Theatre), Between the Sheets (Waterloo East Theatre), Hay Fever and Sweet Revenge (Manor Pavillion), Pablo (Greenwich Theatre) and Thaw (The Vaults).
Film includes Hoodies of Boyfriends Past, Vita and Virginia, Homecomings, Blackout, Spacemen, The Lady in The Park, London Bridges Falling Down and Telephone Me.

Web Series includes M.O.T.H.E.R Knows Best, Amdram and Spads.

Max Marcq | Dudley Croker (A Winning Hazard), Captain Seymour (Allow Me to Apologise), Septimus Symmetry (Orange Blossoms)

Trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Theatre includes Rebel Angel (Old Operating Theatre, London)
Theatre whilst training includes Free, After the Dance, Richard III, The Oresteia, The Country Wife, Look Back in Anger, Blues for Mr Charlie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Twelfth Night, An Ideal Husband, The Three Sisters and Closer (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama).

Edward Mitchell | Jack Crawley (A Winning Hazard), Goliath Goth (Allow Me to Apologise), Falcone Hope (Orange Blossoms)

Trained at East15 Acting School where he was the Spotlight Prize Winner.
Theatre includes Unearthed (Arcola Theatre and National Tour), Gloves Off (Theatre503), The Bastard Children of Remington Steele and The Secret Wives of Andy Williams (Underbelly), The Trojan Women (Brockley Jack Studio Theatre), Bent (Landor Theatre) and Granuaile (Tristan Bates Theatre).
Film includes Pirates of the Caribbean (IV) - On Stranger Tides, Justice League, The Illustrious Client, Curse of the Phoenix and Fratton.
Television includes The First Musketeer, Comfort Food and Sofia’s Diary - Series 2.

Josephine Starte | Coralie Blythe (A Winning Hazard), Hariett Seymour (Allow Me to Apologise), Isabella Clarence (Orange Blossoms)

Trained at National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney.
Theatre includes Maria (Omnibus Theatre), The Talk (The Vaults), The White Bike (The Space), The Mutant Man (Theatre N16), I Walk in Your Words (Rich Mix), Trade (Old 505 Theatre, Sydney), Threnody (Old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney) and The Cherry Orchard (New Theatre, Sydney).
Theatre whilst training includes Boys, Not Who I Was, Sports Play, Blood Wedding, The Greeks and Herons (National Institute of Dramatic Art), Black Bird (Corpus Playroom, Cambridge) and The Blue Room (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art).
Film includes Lion, Hacksaw Ridge, Poised, Breath, An Athlete Wrestling a Python, Blue Monday, Green River and On Hold.
Television includes The Hidden Track.
Cabaret includes You Are Absolutely Fine (or…Self Pity: The Musical!).


“Mighty fine plays…as relevant today as they were in the 1840s and 1850s.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The second piece boasts the heartiest laughs with a wonderful comic mad scene, as well as the ever-so-slightly risque frisson of a girl pretending to be a boy in order to woo another girl.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“The three plays – A Winning Hazard, Allow Me To Apologise and Orange Blossoms – are laced with dollops of farce and wit. Duels, cross dressing, deception, bluff and counter bluff all get an airing.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The Finborough’s ambition in reviving these forgotten works is part of the theatre’s great appeal.” Ed Whitfield, View From the Cheap Seat

“A slick lark of an evening.” Joanna Hetherington, The Spy in the Stalls

“An unmitigated triumph.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“This long-forgotten but genuinely funny author.” Debs Jeffries, London Pub Theatres

“A frolicsome and uplifting insight into the lives and minds of the Victorian idle rich.” Joanna Hetherington, The Spy in the Stalls

“A Winning Hazard is a winning farce.” Ed Whitfield, View From the Cheap Seat

“Riotous fun.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Highly likeable troupe of six.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Inspirational director Phillip James Rouse and a talented cast.” Joanna Hetherington, The Spy in the Stalls

“The six-strong cast gel together like super glue throughout and have real on-stage chemistry.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The performances provided an outstanding example of ensemble playing, and it’s unusual to say about a cast that every one of them was equally as good as the other.” Debs Jeffries, London Pub Theatres 

“The six actors work perfectly as an ensemble as well as each bringing their own particular style to the roles.” Joanna Hetherington, The Spy in the Stalls

“Director Phillip Rouse has produced a wonderful night of entertainment. It fizzes with energy.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Philip James Rouse’s rumbustious staging, handsomely costumed by Martelle Hunt, makes a clear case for how these pieces would have put Victorian audiences in a good mood for the rest of their evening.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“The costumes designed by Martelle Hunt were inspired.” Debs Jeffries, London Pub Theatres

“Martelle Hunt's costumes are accurate and detailed.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

“The costumes are magnificent.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“As part of its 150th anniversary celebrations – and to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Wooler’s death (what a coincidence) – Finborough Theatre has revived three of his ‘comediettas’. Short, sharp plays. And thrillingly – and joyously – performed.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The Finborough Theatre celebrates its home’s 150th anniversary in stylish and exhilarating fashion.” Joanna Hetherington, The Spy in the Stalls


Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays
9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 September 2018

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

Performance Length: 2 hours 30 minutes with one interval of fifteen minutes.

Tickets £18, £16 concessions



Book Tickets for A Winning Hazard

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 September 2018

Please note that if a show is marked as Sold Out, there are no more tickets available. Please do NOT contact the theatre as we have no more tickets left for these shows. Please see our returns and exchanges policy for more information.

Directed by Phillip James Rouse

Designed by Martelle Hunt

Sound and Music by Julian Starr

Lighting by Euan Davis

Presented by The Hazard Project in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.