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Plague Over England

By Nicholas de Jongh

Finborough Theatre
The Finborough
118 Finborough Road,
London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652

www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

The world première of a new play by Nicholas de Jongh will be presented at the Finborough Theatre for a 4 week season from Wed 27 February to Sat 22 March 2008, press performance on Fri 29 Feb and Sat March 1.

The cast is headed by Jasper Britton (John Gielgud) and includes David Burt, Simon Dutton, Steve Hansell, Nichola McAuliffe, Leon Ockenden, John Warnaby, Timothy Watson, Robin Whiting. It is directed by Tamara Harvey with design by Alex Marker, lighting by James Farncombe, costume design by Penn O’Gara and sound by Colin Pink.

Plague over England is based around the controversial 1953 conviction of Sir John Gielgud - for persistently importuning men for immoral purposes. Nichola McAuliffe portrays Sybil Thorndike, the actress with whom Gielgud was poised to appear in the West End in a play he was directing and starring in, while Simon Dutton portrays the famed producer Binkie Beaumont.

More than just a dramatisation of a scandalous event in one actor's life, this new play shows how Gielgud's arrest played a small but distinct part in the battle to make homosexuality legal. It captures the spirit of Britain in the early 1950s when judges, politicians and the national press were describing homosexuality as a cancer, an epidemic and a threat to national life. It is an extraordinary insight into the dramatic changes in social attitudes to gay life in the last fifty years.

Nicholas de Jongh has been the theatre critic of the Evening Standard since 1991. His books include Not in Front of the Audience, a history of homosexuality on stage; and Politics, Pruderies and Perversions, a history of theatre censorship in the UK, which won the Society of Theatre Research Prize in 2001, and which he dramatised for a performance at the Royal Court in 1996.

He also contributed a one act play to the Royal Court's May Days season in 1991. Plague Over England recently received a rehearsed reading at the Royal Court, directed by Artistic Director Dominic Cooke.

Director Tamara Harvey recently directed the acclaimed tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! at the Bush Theatre. Her many other credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Christian Slater (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, two West End runs and UK Tour), Whipping It Up with Richard Wilson (West End), Bash (Trafalgar Studios, Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s Globe), Who’s the Daddy (King’s Head), and The Graduate (UK Tour). She returns to the Finborough following her sell-out Time Out Critics’ Choice productions of Young Emma and Something Cloudy, Something Clear.

Jasper Britton plays John Gielgud. His credits include Rhinoceros (Royal Court Theatre), ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Chocolate Factory, Satan in Paradise Lost (Oxford Stage Company), Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed RSC), Summerfolk, Money, Troilus and Cressida and Honk! ( National Theatre), the title role in Richard III (Regent’s Park) and the title role in Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe. Simon Dutton’s credits include the RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing & The Merchant of Venice, Not About Heroes, The Duchess of Malfi (National Theatre), Another Country (Queens Theatre), Semi Monde (Lyric). Nichola McAuliffe’s credits include The Mikado, Night Of The Iguana, Black Comedy and The Real Inspector Hound (all West End) and her Olivier Award winning performance in the RSC Kiss Me Kate. She was nominated for an Olivier award for her performance in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium). ‘Plague Over England’ is produced by Chantelle Staynings and Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

As a companion piece NC Hunter’s ‘A Day By The Sea’ will be at the Finborough for 5 performances in April.

Press perfs: Friday, 29 February 2008 at 7.30pm Saturday, 1 March 2008 at 7.30pm
Wednesday, 27 February – Saturday, 22 March 2008
Running time 2 hours.
Tues to Sat Eves 7.30pm.
Sat & Sun Mats 3.00pm
Tickets £15, £11 concessions, except Tuesday Evenings £11.00: Sat eves £15.00.
Previews (27 and 28 February) £9.00

5 February 2008