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A Farce of War
by Charles Wood
Directed by Tom Littler
Design and Lighting by Will Reynolds
Produced by Primavera in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre
Cast in order of appearance
Gwendoline – Susannah Harker
Ian – Anthony Howell
George – Peter Sandys-Clarke
Wong Swee – Jeremy Tiang
Percy – Paul Mooney
Bernard – Roger Braban
Officer – Roger Braban
Child – Vera Chok
Japanese Sentry – Jeremy Tiang
The first ever UK revival of the play by Charles Wood
26 March – 19 April 2008
“Well, all in all, I hope this play has made you feel that in spite of the troublous times we live in, it is still pretty exciting to be English.”
Singapore 1942. Glamorous society girl Gwendoline finds herself at the Raffles Hotel with her latest husband – whom she married in a hurry after running up a large hotel bill in Bombay. But when she bumps into her former husband Ian, a dashing major with the Royal Engineers, she begins to wonder if she was a little hasty in divorcing him. Meanwhile, Brigadier Percy is also pursuing her - now his wife has been evacuated. And to top it all off, Japanese troops are approaching and room service keeps running out of champagne...
Unperformed since its 1975 Royal Shakespeare Company premiere, Jingo is a hilarious exploration of relationships and patriotism, set among the privileged expatriate community of Malaya in the days before the largest British surrender of the Second World War.
The cast includes Roger Braban, whose credits include The Beaver Coat (Finborough Theatre), The Lady in the Van and Quartet (West End), Electra (Donmar Warehouse) and The Ruby in the Smoke (BBC); Vera Chok, who recently appeared in When The Lights Went Out (Tara Arts); Susannah Harker, whose many television and film credits include Jane Bennet in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, Mattie Storin in House of Cards (BAFTA nomination), Ultraviolet, and Surviving Picasso. Susannah’s stage credits include Old Times directed by Sir Peter Hall, On The Shore of the Wide World (National Theatre), Masha in Three Sisters (West End), and Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest directed by Nicholas Hytner; Anthony Howell, who is best known for his role as Paul Milner in six series of Foyle’s War, and television appearances in Hawking, The Other Boleyn Girl and Wives and Daughters. His stage credits include leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, And Then There Were None (West End), and The French Lieutenant’s Woman (National Tour); Paul Mooney, whose leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company include Claudio in Measure for Measure (directed by Adrian Noble). His further credits include Deadlines (Royal Court Theatre), Pain of Youth, Punishment without Revenge (Gate Theatre), Beaux Stratagem (National Theatre), Cell Mates and The Common Pursuit (West End); Peter Sandys-Clarke, whose recent West End credits include leading roles in Journey’s End and The Letter, and whose television credits include Torchwood, Foyle’s War and the forthcoming Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me (BBC); and Jeremy Tiang, who has performed in Singapore and the UK for companies including Singapore Repertory Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre, and the Royal Opera House.
Charles Wood is one of the UK’s most successful post-war playwrights. His plays include work for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre including the banned Dingo; Cockade (Evening Standard Award); Fill the Stage with Happy Hours; Veterans (Evening Standard Award); and Red Star (Evening Standard Award nomination).
He has also written versions of plays by Pirandello for the National Theatre - Man Beast and Virtue and The Mountain Giants. His work for television includes Tumbledown with Colin Firth as a disfigured Falklands veteran (BAFTA, Prix Italia (Rai) and Tokyo Prize). His screenplays include The Charge of the Light Brigade, An Awfully Big Adventure, and Iris, written with Richard Eyre.
Jingo was originally performed by the RSC in 1975, directed by Richard Eyre, with Anna Massey, John Standing, Peter Jeffrey and David Yip. Trevor Nunn called it a “An original, distinctive, apposite, funny play”.
Tom Littler recently directed Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Hubert Henry Davies’s comedy The Mollusc, and T. S. Eliot’s verse play The Confidential Clerk for Primavera as part of the Finborough Theatre’s [ rediscoveries season 2007 ]. He is Artistic Director of Primavera which focuses on revivals of neglected or unperformed plays. For Primavera, Tom has also directed the Forgotten Classics series (King’s Head Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire (Oxford Playhouse) and the Scottish premiere of Sondheim’s Passion (The Scotsman Critics’ Choice). Tom recently assisted Sir Peter Hall on Little Nell (Theatre Royal, Bath), Laurence Boswell on Treats (Garrick Theatre), Alan Strachan on The Letter (Wyndham’s) and Peter Gill on The Importance of Being Earnest (National Tour and West End).
The Press on Jingo
“Charles Wood's Jingo eminently deserves its first revival since 1975" Michael Billington, The Guardian
“No contemporary writer has chronicled the experience of war so well” Benedict Nightingale, The Times
“It is a play steeped in bitterness and one that is still remarkably resonant.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage
“Susannah Harker is a joy as the divinely self-involved Gwendoline, toying with the men in her life as a cat would torment its kill, and Peter Sandys-Clarke is also engaging as the priggish and yet pathetic George. Paul Mooney is both amusing and tragic, as the smutty, blustering brigadier who pleads with Gwendoline to spank him.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage
“Instead of reading us a lecture, [Wood] makes his point through laughter, showing the Brits pursuing their own hedonistic games even as disaster looms...his dialogue has a vividly staccato comic poetry...It is rather as if Private Lives were being played out against a background of public tragedy. Michael Billington, The Guardian
“Tom Littler's production, beautifully designed and lit by Will Reynolds, contains perfectly pitched performances from Susannah Harker as the glamorously myopic heroine, Anthony Howell and Peter Sandys-Clarke as her rival husbands, and Paul Mooney as a pukka punishment-seeker.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
“Tom Littler’s strongly acted revival.” Benedict Nightingale, The Times
“A silly but serious look back at British conceit, chauvinism and sheer stupidity...Whatever the play’s claims to humour, it is not joking about war.” Benedict Nightingale, The Times
"You cannot patronise Charles Wood’s snapshots of military life. After all, he spent five years as a trooper in the Lancers and knew what he was talking about when he dealt with the Falklands in his TV play Tumbledown, showed a crazed private cradling a friend’s charred corpse in his stage play Dingo or wrote the screenplay for The Charge of the Light Brigade. As Richard Eyre has said, no contemporary writer has “chronicled the experience of war with so much authority, knowledge, compassion, wit and despair. Eyre added that “no contemporary writer has received so little of his deserved public acclaim”, which is a good reason for welcoming the Finborough’s rediscovery of his 1975 play, Jingo." Benedict Nightingale, The Times
“The Finborough is making a name for itself with some judicious revivals and Charles Wood's biting 1975 satire is yet another fine rediscovery.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
“Wood, perhaps best known for the controversial Falklands drama Tumbledown, was an Army man, which lends his work a refreshing complexity.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
“Susannah Harker, an actress who should appear more often in our major playhouses, is in beautifully crisp form as Gwendoline.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
“There's nice support, too, from Vera Chok as two vulnerable Singaporean women.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard
“By jingo, an interesting evening.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard