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EDEN'S EMPIRE

by James Graham
Directed by Gemma Fairlie
Designed by Alex Marker
Lighting by Matt Peel.
Sound by Steve Mayo
Costume Design by Nell Knudsen
Produced by Marie Bobin.
Presented by Pyre Productions and the Finborough Theatre

Cast
Anthony Eden - Jamie Newall
Winston Churchill - Ted Pleasance
Reporter - Michael Kirk
Byrnes - Nigel Pegram
Molotov - Hayward Morse
Caricaturist - Selva Rasalingam
Clarissa Eden - Daisy Beaumont
Schuman - Nigel Pegram
Colonel Nasser - Selva Rasalingam
Dulles - Hayward Morse
Harold Macmillan - Kevin Quarmby
Butler - Hayward Morse
Swinton - Michael Kirk
Woolton - Nigel Pegram
Sir Frederick Bishop - Nigel Pegram
Selwyn Lloyd - Michael Kirk
Anthony Nutting - Selva Rasalingam
Lord Mountbatten - Hayward Morse
All other parts played by members of the Company

[ new british plays season 2006 ]

6 – 30 September 2006

The world premiere of a new play, commissioned by the Finborough Theatre’s Artistic Director Neil McPherson, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Suez Crisis.

Winner of the Pearson Best Play Award

The script is published by Methuen and is available here

“I am convinced, more convinced than I have been about anything in all my public life, that we were right, my colleagues and I, in the judgments and decisions we took, and that history will prove it so.” – Anthony Eden

Fifty years ago, Britain propelled itself into a disastrous war in the Middle East . Condemned by the UN and accused of falsifying intelligence, the Prime Minister was left fighting for his political life against a Party disillusioned, a public betrayed, and a wily Chancellor with ambitions to take his place….

With the pressure of opposition to his war, Prime Minister Anthony Eden rapidly lost his grip on both the Empire and his health. Unable to control the growing power of both the United States and the Arab world, nor his own failing body, history would mark him as the worst British Prime Minister of the twentieth century. A new, uncompromising political thriller exploring with electrifying theatricality the events of the Suez Crisis, and the tragic story of its flawed hero – Churchill’s golden boy and heir apparent, Anthony Eden.

Playwright James Graham won the Pearson Playwriting Bursary – judged by a panel that included Michael Billington, Beryl Bainbridge and Sir John Mortimer - for Albert’s Boy, produced at the Finborough Theatre in 2005, starring Victor Spinetti. He is also the Finborough’s representative as one of ‘The 50’ emerging writers given a bursary award by the BBC and Royal Court as part of the theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Eden’s Empire has been specially commissioned for the Finborough Theatre by Artistic Director Neil McPherson.

Directed by exciting young director Gemma Fairlie whose London premiere of Silence by Moira Buffini at the Arcola Theatre in 2005 was named Time Out’s Show of the Week and Critics’ Choice. An Assistant Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, she recently assisted Anthony Neilson on his new play Realism for the National Theatre of Scotland at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Critically acclaimed Finborough Theatre Associate Designer Alex Marker designs.

Daisy Beaumont ’s many credits include The Day I Stood Still (National Theatre) and Alan Ayckbourn’s Virtual Reality (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough); Michael Kirk’s extensive credits in the West End and the regions including My Fair Lady (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); Hayward Morse was nominated for a Tony for his performance the Broadway production of Simon Gray’s Butley, while his many stage credits include the first stage versions of both What The Butler Saw and The Rocky Horror Show ; Jamie Newall plays Anthony Eden. His extensive credits include the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company; Nigel Pegram’s credits include the 1964 Oxford Revue with Michael Palin and Terry Jones and Sir Peter Hall’s UK and US tours of As You Like It; Ted Pleasance’scredits include Brian Friel’s Aristocrats (National Theatre) and for TV the title role in The Tony Martin Story; Kevin Quarmby worked extensively at the National Theatre under Richard Eyre, as well as Jonathan Pryce's Hamlet (Royal Court); Selva Rasalingam plays Nasser. Hiscredits include Guantanamo – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom (Tricycle Theatre and New Ambassadors) and Shiva in Midnight's Children (Royal Shakespeare Company UK and US tour).

PRESS ACCLAIM FOR PLAYWRIGHT JAMES GRAHAM AND DIRECTOR GEMMA FAIRLIE
“Fringe theatre at its best!” Aleks Sierz, The Stage on Albert’s Boy
“There is a boldness and…lycricism to the writing” The Times on Albert’s Boy
“A fantastically enjoyable evening…directed with panache” The Stage on Silence
“Gemma Fairlie’s compelling, touching production…Fairlie’s direction is unfailingly inventive, energetic and warm hearted” Time Out on Silence
“Gemma Fairlie’s vigorous production.” **** Four Stars, The Guardian on Silence

The Press on Eden's Empire
“In October, it will be 50 years since the Suez crisis, Britain's aborted invasion of Egypt (in secret collusion with France and Israel) that decisively demonstrated that Britannia no longer ruled the waves…Now, to mark the anniversary, the young dramatist James Graham has written Eden's Empire, a lucid and gripping account of the background and course of the crisis.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“Graham’s nuanced, intelligent play” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“Graham's play is both a dramatic piece of living history and a timely demonstration of the danger of allowing foreign policy to be dictated by a prime minister who flagrantly flouts international law.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“There was much wry audience laughter at the similarities here with the predicament of another (would-be) Prime Minister-in-waiting.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

"Gripping" Michael Billington, The Guardian

“…The parallels he draws between the politically disastrous PM of post-war Britain, Anthony Eden, and his latter-day namesake are so bold you’d have to be, well, Tony Blair to miss them...The circles of similarity are drawn so tight it’s almost disorientating.” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“An artful mix of historical reconstruction and mischievously handled hindsight”. Paul Taylor, The Independent

“What Graham captures vividly is the mix of mendacity and muddle that characterised Britain's covert collusion with France and Israel over the invasion of Egypt.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Gemma Fairlie's polished production” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Gemma Fairlie's production adroitly uses tangos to suggest all the characters are caught up in a feverish dance.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Gemma Fairlie’s fast-moving production, with political manoeuvring rendered literally in elegant quicksteps” Heather Neill, The Stage

“Gemma Fairlie's serious-minded yet also droll production” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“An absolutely terrific performance from Jamie Newall”
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Eden, played with tightly coiled, English-as-elevenses panache by Jamie Newall” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“As Eden the dapper diplomat, Jamie Newall seems to have stepped out of the pages of Evelyn Waugh or Noël Coward”
Ian Johns, The Times

“Jamie Newall is outstanding as Eden…It's a huge role but Newall carries it off magnificently catching Eden's clipped, debonair grace” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Jamie Newall precisely captures Eden's mix of intellectual flakiness and matinee-idol charm” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“This decent, dashing, stiff-upperlipped English gentleman is seen to best effect in the touching domestic interludes with his young wife, Clarissa (spirited Daisy Beaumont)”. Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“A versatile cast led by Jamie Newall as the sick and disappointed Eden, Kevin Quarmby as a Machiavellian Macmillan, Selva Rasalingham as Nasser and Daisy Beaumont as ultra-loyal Clarissa Eden serve the play well.” Heather Neill, The Stage

“Staunch support from Nigel Pegram, as a loyal private secretary, and Selva Rasalingam, who doubles effectively as Nasser and Anthony Nutting” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A fine cast (high amongst them Nigel Pegram's quartet of roles as Byrne, Schuman, Woolton and Eden's Private Secretary, Bishop)” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Harold Macmillan stiffly looming in the wings, courtesy of a fine Kevin Quarmby” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“Churchill continually barking at him via a convincing Ted Pleasance” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“Daisy Beaumont perfectly inhabiting the matronly femininity of Eden’s unbending second wife.” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“Wonderfully supported by Daisy Beaumont, again perfectly in period and assured as Clarissa” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds

“The play…intrigues as we see Ted Pleasance’s Churchill prevaricating about when he’ll make way for Eden and Kevin Quarmby’s chancellor, Harold Macmillan, positioning himself for No 10.” Ian Johns, The Times

“Alex Marker’s elegant design subtly evokes the radical shift in world power that Eden was so comprehensively unable to navigate” Lucy Powell, Time Out

“Alex Marker's clever set” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Alex Marker's neat set” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Neil McPherson, Finborough's presiding genius (and arguably one of the shrewdest producers currently operating on the fringe) could hardly have foreseen, though, how his commission 14 months ago…would accumulate quite such importance in the week of its opening. Chosen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Suez debacle and taking for granted the similarities between Eden's foolhardy escapade and Tony Blair's Middle East excursions, McPherson and Graham could never have predicted the internecine furore that has broken out this past week; nor the headline-grabbing concentration on succession and supposed heirs apparent that Graham's play recalls.” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds

“All credit then to McPherson for letting us ponder a moment in our national history from which we seem to have learnt nothing” Carole Woddis, Rogues and Vagabonds