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CRADLE ME

The world premiere of a new play by Simon Vinnicombe
Directed by Duncan Macmillan
Designed by Paul Burgess
Lighting by Ben Turnbull
Sound Design by Theo Holloway
Presented by SAW Productions

Cast in order of appearance
Marion – Sharon Maughan
Daniel – Luke Treadaway
Louise – Sarah Bedi
Graham – Paul Herzberg

* * * * Four Stars Evening Standard

[ finboroughplaywrights season ]
1 October – 25 October 2008


"On the odd occasion and worst of f**king all there is sympathy. I could handle them avoiding me. I could handle the odd empty look of sympathy - The 'i'm sorry's' or 'if it were my'... I could handle that... But this..."

In the aftermath of an unspeakable yet avoidable tragedy, a family finds themselves torn apart by grief and turning for comfort to Daniel, the troubled teenage boy who lives next door.

Having experienced their tragedy first hand, Daniel shares in their grief in a way that creates an individual bond with each member of the family. Louise is the pre pubescent daughter whose burgeoning sexuality makes Daniel an obvious target for her affections. Graham is the grieving father who recognises Daniel as knowing his dead son in a way that he never could and now never will.

However, it is Marion, the dead boy’s mother, who expresses her grief through Daniel in a way that will ultimately lead both he and her family on a path that will irrevocably alter the course of their lives forever.

Playwright Simon Vinnicombe’s first original play was Year 10 which received its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre in 2005, subsequently transferred to BAC as part of their Time Out Critics' Choice season in 2006 - and also played in France at the Festival “Premières” second edition – a festival organised by the Théâtre National de Strasbourg and Le Maillon, and as part of the Brittany International Theatre Festival in 2006. A feature film adaptation is currently under development with The First Film Company. The script is published by Methuen. His other plays include Wisdom which was part of Manhattan Theatre Club's reading season in April 2008. Simon is the writer on The Bush Theatres Halo Project to be premiered at the Bush Theatre in August of this year. Simon’s radio play Hard Road was produced by BBC Radio 4 in 2007. He was also part of the Celebrity 24 Hour Plays in 2007 at the Old Vic.

Duncan Macmillan trained as a director at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Best known as a playwright, he is the winner of two Bruntwood Awards at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, is a member of the Royal Court/BBC 50 and the Old Vic New Voices and is the Pearson Writer in Residence at Paines Plough. As a founding member of the writers collective the Apathists, he has curated and directed evenings of new work at several London theatres totalling more than a hundred short plays, and is currently programming the autumn season of Later for Paines Plough at Trafalgar Studios. His plays include Monster (Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester International Festival – nominated for Best New Play at TMA and MEN Awards), The Most Humane Way to Kill A Lobster (Theatre 503), Satellite (Young Writers Festival Readings at the Royal Court), and I Wish To Apologise For My Part In The Apocalypse (BBC Radio).

Sarah Bedi’s many credits include The Lady’s Not For Burning (Finborough Theatre), Hamlet (The Factory), I Am A Superhero (Theatre 503 and the Old Vic), Romeo and Juliet (Sprite), Invisible Mountains (National Theatre), and The Late Middle Classes (Watford Palace Theatre).Television includes Affinity, Casualty, Holby City, The Bill, and Doctors. Radio includes One Chord Wonders, Parallel Lines, Beast At Bay, and Caring.

Paul Herzberg’s many credits include I.D. (Almeida Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire (Mermaid Theatre), Dancing At Lughnasa (National Theatre of Ireland – Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Dead Wait, Arms and the Man, Romeo and Juliet, While The Sun Shines, and People Are Living There (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), The Merchant of Venice, and Carrington (Chichester), Julius Caesar (Riverside Studios), Goodbye Kiss (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), Oleanna (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough) and Pride and Prejudice (Richmond). Television includes The Life and Loves of A She-Devil, Warburg, Smiley’s People, The Knock, Poirot, Soldier Soldier, Napoleon and Josephine, Murder City, Band of Brothers, Dark Secret, and Seaton’s Aunt. Film includes Cry Freedom, The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, Blood, Room 36, The Book Of Eve, and Almost Heaven (which he also co-wrote). Writing includes The Dead Wait which was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award, performed at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, and at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester where it won a Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actor, and was nominated for Best Play / Production; and The Song Of My Father (BBC Radio 4). He is currently writing The Fighting Prince, a screenplay for Focus Features, New York.

Sharon Maughan’s many credits include Habeas Corpus (Lyric Theatre), Filumena, directed by Franco Zeffirelli (Lyric Theatre), Plenty (Liverpool Playhouse), Born Yesterday (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Adam Was A Gardener and A Doll’s House (the Minerva Theatre, Chichester), Arcadia (National Theatre), and All The Children Cried (West Yorkshire Playhouse and New End Theatre, Hampstead) as well as repertory seasons at Chester and the Liverpool Playhouse. Sharon has also appeared in Out of Our Fathers House (Fountainhead Theatre, Hollywood, where she received a Drama Logue Award for Best Actress), and directed Widowers Houses (Chelsea Centre Theatre).
Television includes Shabby Tiger, Dial M For Murder, The Main Chance, The Enigma Files, Keats, The Flame Trees of Thika, Dombey and Son, By The Sword Divided, Inspector Morse, Hannay, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Murder She Wrote, Felicity, Cinderella, Holby City and Twelfth Night for which she was also Executive Producer. She was also seen on the long running series of commercials for Gold Blend coffee in the UK from 1987–1991, and in the USA from 1991–1998.
Film includes Home Before Midnight, Another Stakeout, The Bank Job, and She's Out of My League.
Writing includes the screenplay Cross Country.

Luke Treadaway‘s many credits include Saint Joan and War Horse (both at the National Theatre) and Piranha Heights (Soho Theatre).
Television includes The Innocence Project (BBC), Clapham Junction (Channel 4).
Film includes Northern Star, Heartless, written and directed by Philip Ridley and co-starring Jim Sturgess and Timothy Spall, and playing a conjoined twin with his identical twin brother, Harry. in the feature film Brothers Of The Head which won the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and earned Luke a British Independent Film Award nomination for Most Promising Newcomer.

Saw Productions recently produced the world premiere of Steven Berkoff's Sit and Shiver at the New End Theatre in May 2006 before transferring to the Hackney Empire for a sell out run in January 2007. Their other productions include Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill at the New Players Theatre in 2005 and the London premiere of Visiting Mr. Green at the New End Theatre in March 2005.

The Press on Cradle Me
“If ever we required a salutary reminder to look beyond the confines of the West End, the far superior of these two new dramas about teenagers provides it.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“It’s an exploration of the psychology of grief and, as performed by this quartet of actors, it becomes a heartbreaking cry for love and understanding in the shadow of tragedy.” Baz Bamigboye, The Daily Mail

“It is also part of a splendid piece of teamwork by the whole company, beautifully matched to this theatre’s scale.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“A mature, thoughtful and sensitive piece about a family sent spinning centrifugally by grief.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“As Cradle Me ended, I found myself ranking the characters in the order of ‘most wronged’. It turned out to be an interesting exercise, made all the more so when I realised that in Vinnicombe’s play the question becomes so tantalisingly subjective that I doubt my final list would have matched many others.” Sam Smith, Music OMH

“Mr Treadaway, very good. Mr Herzberg plays a father in mourning and Ms Bedi, who I’d not seen before is going to have the brightest of acting futures.” Baz Bamigboye, The Daily Mail

“The dialogue – especially that of the younger characters – is splendidly natural.” Robert Shore, Time Out

“Well-observed and engaging.” Matt Trueman, The Stage

“With the action taking place on the Finborough Theatre’s tiny stage, the audience seated only inches away, Cradle Me is an emotive and moving piece, made all the more so by some superb performances.” Sam Smith, Music OMH

“The acting is of a high order, tense and watchful all round, with Sarah Bedi as the teasing, stroppy daughter and Paul Herzberg as a bear-like, helpless father dancing attendance on a central duet that brings Phaedra and Hippolytus into modern Surrey – with the fringe on top.” Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage

“Vinnicombe’s writing cuts to the heart of things.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Tightly written and tightly played with such reality that it can even dispense with dialogue”.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“A talented new writer.” Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage

“Simon Vinnicombe won plaudits for his debut play, ‘Year 10’…‘Cradle Me’ certainly confirms Vinnicombe’s promise as a writer – his innocent yet guileful school-age characters are a treat.” Robert Shore, Time Out

“Sharon Maughan captures that transition from a mother finding her son’s friend a help in her own grief to a woman newly awakened and suddenly losing her scruples.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“The fragile, mesmerising performance of Sharon Maughan.” Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage

“Ms Maughan is giving one of the best performances in London...There’s a moment in the second act where her face crumples and she lets out a silent scream that pierces your heart.” Baz Bamigboye, The Daily Mail

“Luke Treadaway gives a wonderfully animalistic performance, mixing squirming uncertainty with chest-puffed confidence.” Matt Trueman, The Stage

“Luke Treadaway gives him a vulnerability that underlies his enthusiasm and vivacity. This is a superb performance from his first appearance in a state of shock to a self-contrived declaration of his love singing along to a record, full of naïve exuberance.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“All four performances in Duncan Macmillan’s impressive production are superb, but special plaudits must go to Luke Treadaway as Daniel.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Looking startled like a child but with a depth of compassion that simultaneously suggests great age, Treadaway imbues this loner with a compelling but intriguingly non-threatening intensity.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Luke Treadaway – so memorable as the boy in War Horse – brilliantly gauges the fine line between self-consciousness and adolescent testosterone rush.” Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage

“Luke Treadaway as Daniel effectively portrays the awkwardness felt by a boy who is an oddball anyway, even without having to confront his dead friend’s family.” Sam Smith, Music OMH

“Played with mesmerising tenderness by Luke Treadaway.” Robert Shore, Time Out

“Sarah Bedi…Excellent.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Sarah Bedi as Louise demonstrates a great maturity in her acting, applying an element of precociousness to her vulnerable character.” Sam Smith, Music OMH

“The weathered Paul Herzberg is perfect as the father, swinging and swigging forlornly.” Matt Trueman, The Stage
“But it is the older actors who steal the show. Paul Herzberg as Graham captures the feelings of a man whose son died at the wrong time.” Sam Smith, Music OMH

“Beautifully directed.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Beautifully directed by Duncan Macmillan.” Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage

“Duncan Macmillan’s production is so strong on non-verbal communication generally, and makes such terrific use of music.” Robert Shore, Time Out

“Casting us as prying neighbours in traverse, director Duncan Macmillan finds a voyeuristic responsibility, ensnaring his audience through simple sexuality and the watchable crumble of a family already in despair.” Matt Trueman, The Stage
“Paul Burgess’s design packs elements of kitchen, garden and bedrooms into a traverse.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Paul Burgess’s neat multiple setting of living areas, garden swing and boys’ bedrooms.” Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage