Pixie Lott as Holly Golightly in Leeds



Pixie Lott as Holly Golightly 4 credit Uli WeberThe first images of Pixie Lott as Holly Golightly in the new stage production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s have been released today.  Following  12 weeks in the West End, Pixie comes to Leeds Grand Theatre in April next year – the only Yorkshire venue on the tour.

Truman Capote’s classic tale, brought to life so memorably by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film, has been adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize-winning Finalist and Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain), and contains memorable songs from the era as well as original music by Grant Odling (One Man, Two Guvnors).

Pixie Lott as Holly Golightly 3 credit Uli Weber (1)Breakfast at Tiffany’s is set in New York in 1943. Fred, a young writer from Louisiana, meets Holly Golightly, a charming, vivacious and utterly elusive good-time girl.  Everyone falls in love with Holly – including Fred.  But Fred is poor, and Holly’s other suitors include a playboy millionaire and the future president of Brazil.  As war rages on in Europe, Holly begins to fall in love with Fred – just as her past catches up with her.

Pixie Lott said, “I am so excited to play Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s … I absolutely love Holly’s style and free spirit; she has always been an icon to me and I can’t wait to bring my own personality to the role. Alongside music, I’ve always wanted to be in a play, and getting the opportunity to be in one of my all-time favourites and play this fabulous character is a dream come true.”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th April 2016


Tickets are on sale now priced from £18.50 to £37


Book online at leedsgrandtheatre.com or by calling Box Office 0844 848 2700









Dirty Dancing UK tour 2014-15 - previous cast -  cTristram KentonProducers Karl Sydow and Paul Elliott today announced that a brand new production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will tour the UK from August 2016. The classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, will return next summer, following two blockbuster West End runs and two hit UK tours.

Full of passion and romance, heart-pounding music and sensationally sexy dancing, the record-breaking musical is even better than before in this all new production created by an innovative new creative team; directed by Federico Bellone, Artistic Director of Milan’s Teatro Nazionale, choreographed by Gillian Bruce and with design re-imagined by top Italian set designer Roberto Cometti. The production premiered in Milan in July 2015, subsequently packing out the 15,000 seat Roman Arena in Verona, and will play a season in Rome this autumn before embarking on a major Italian tour. To mark the tenth anniversary of the original stage show, a new Australian tour was launched last year, and to date has sold a record 416,000 tickets since October 2014.


Dirty Dancing UK tour 2014-15 - previous cast (w) -  cTristram KentonAfter a series of dates in China, Belgium and Korea, the new UK production will open at the Blackpool Opera House on 11 August 2016 and will play the following venues: Orchard Theatre, Dartford (1 – 10 September), Opera House, Swansea (12 – 17 September), Aylesbury Waterside (19 – 24 September), New Theatre, Wimbledon (26 September – 1 October), Palace Theatre, Manchester (10 – 15 October), Grand Opera House, York (17 – 22 October), Carlisle Sands Centre (24 – 29 October), Northampton Derngate (31 October – 5 November), Regent Theatre, Stoke (7 – 12 November), Kings Theatre, Southsea (14 – 19 November), and Reading Hexagon (21 – 26 November), with further dates and casting to be announced.


Michael McIntyre brings his Happy & Glorious Tour to Sheffield Arena next week






“The man is quite simply top-to-toe hilarious”  ***** The Telegraph


Michael McIntyre is set to return to Sheffield next week with his hotly anticipated brand new stand-up show Happy & Glorious in 2015.

Catch Michael at Sheffield Arena on Friday 16th & Saturday 17th October 2015. 

Tickets purchased online and through the ticket hotline are priced £38.50 with a limited number of premium seats priced £55 including booking fee. Tickets purchased in person at the Arena Box Office are priced £36.75 with a limited number of premium seats at £52.50 including booking fee.

Michael’s previous tour Showtime was the biggest selling comedy tour in the world in 2012, playing to over 640,000 people including a record-breaking ten-night residency at London’s O2 Arena matching the pop-superstar Rihanna’s 2011 record. 

Michael has released three best-selling DVDs: 2008’s Live and Laughing, was the biggest selling UK debut stand-up DVD of its time, Hello Wembley, which in 2009 became the fastest-selling UK stand-up DVD of all time a record it still holds, and 2012’s Showtime, which beat its competitors to the Christmas Number One spot.

The past few years have been exceptional for Michael.  In 2013 he performed internationally; playing to sold out arenas in South Africa, Dubai, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. His show in Johannesburg was the largest ever comedy show in Africa and his Dubai shows won the Time Out Best Night Out Award.

Most recent highlights have included him making his debut as a chat show host on The Michael McIntyre’s Chat Show for BBC1. But now Michael is set to return to the stage in what promises to be his biggest and funniest tour yet.

Joining Michael on his Happy & Glorious tour will be special guest Paul Tonkinson.

Tickets are available in person at the Arena Box Office, by phone on 0114 256 5656 or online atwww.sheffieldarena.co.uk. 







Mr Foots Other Leg Haymarket Theatre.jpg                      

Richard Eyre’s sold out Hampstead Theatre production of Mr Foote’s Other Leg will transfer to Theatre Royal Haymarket from 28th October, for a limited season in London’s West End. Press night Wednesday 4th November.

The new comedy, set in Georgian London, written by Ian Kelly, directed by Richard Eyre, and designed by Tim Hatley, met with acclaim from both critics and the general public alike upon its opening at the Hampstead Theatre in September.

In Georgian London, no one is more famous than Samuel Foote. Satirist, impressionist and dangerous comedian, he has become a celebrity in a city, and at the moment in time, when the concept of selling personality was born. He even has the ear of the king.

Adored by many, despised by some, Foote finds himself at the sharp end of attacks from the press…and a surgeon’s knife. And in an age obsessed with fame, his colleagues from the worlds of science and the stage – from Benjamin Franklin to David Garrick – begin to wonder: does fame make you mad?

Simon Russell Beale stars as Samuel Foote, one of the greatest lost figures of Georgian London. Ian Kelly’s riotously funny new play, based on his award-winning biography of Foote (Theatre Book of the Year 2013), explores society’s obsession with the rise and fall of celebrity through the true story of the Oscar Wilde of the 18th century.

The cast includes: Simon Russell Beale (Samuel Foote); Dervla Kirwan (Peg Woffington);Joseph Millson (David Garrick); Micah Balfour (Frank Barber); Jenny Galloway (Mrs Garner);Ian Kelly (Prince George); Forbes Masson (John Hunter); Colin Stinton (Benjamin Franklin/ Charles Macklin); Sophie Bleasdale (Miss Chudleigh) and Joshua Elliott (Hallam).

Producer Michael Codron commissioned Ian Kelly to write the stage version of Mr Foote’s Other Leg, from his book of the same name. Hampstead Theatre offered to give the play its first production.

Ian Kelly’s other biographies include Antonin Careme, Beau Brummell, Giacomo Casanova (Sunday Times Biography of the Year 2008), and Dame Vivienne Westwood. As an actor, Ian Kelly’s stage credits include The Pitmen Painters (National and Broadway) and A Busy Day (West End). TV includes Downton Abbey, Sensitive Skin and Silent Witness. Film includes Closed Circuit, Creation and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.

Richard Eyre’s many West End and Broadway productions include Ghosts, Hamlet, Guys and Dolls, Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro, Quartermaine’s Terms and The Pajama Game. Film credits include Iris, Notes on a Scandal and the forthcoming The Dresser.

Simon Russell Beale is acknowledged as one of the UK’s foremost actors. Stage appearances include Temple (Donmar), King Lear and Timon of Athens (National Theatre) and Privates on Parade (Noel Coward Theatre). TV includes Penny Dreadful, Henry IV Parts I & II and Spooks. Film includes My Week with Marilyn, Tarzan, Into the Woods and The Deep Blue Sea. His awards include two BAFTAs, three Olivier Awards, and Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards.

Dervla Kirwan rose to prominence with high profile roles on popular television programmesGoodnight Sweetheart and Ballykissangel, for which she won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress in 1996. Stage credits include The Weir (Donmar), Uncle Vanya(Chichester) and Aristocrats (National). TV includes The Fuse, The Silence, Material Girl,Moving On and Doctor Who. Film includes Silent Hours, Entity and Ondine.

Joseph Millson’s stage credits include the title role in Macbeth (Globe), Rocket To The Moon(National) and originating the role of Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies (West End). TV includes Peak Practice, Penny Dreadful and Holby City. Film includes The Chameleon, I Give It A Year and Casino Royale.

Mr Foote’s Other Leg is produced by Michael Codron, Anthony Pye-Jeary and Greg Ripley-Duggan for Hampstead Theatre.

Website: www.mrfootesotherleg.com
Twitter: @mrfooteonstage



From 28 October
a new play by Ian Kelly
directed by Richard Eyre
designed by Tim Hatley

Theatre Royal Haymarket
Haymarket, London SW1Y 4HT

Monday – Saturday: 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees: 2.30pm
Press night Wednesday 4th November

Website: mrfootesotherleg.com
Box office 020 7930 8800



JERSEY BOYS The Musical London





JERSEY BOYS, the smash hit musical, is extending its booking period at the Piccadilly Theatre until 23 October 2016, with tickets on sale now.

JERSEY BOYS stars Michael Watson as Frankie Valli, Edd Post as Bob Gaudio, Jon Boydon as Tommy DeVito and Gary Watson as Nick Massi. Sandy Moffat plays the role of Frankie Valli at certain performances. Also in the cast are Simon Adkins, Nicola Brazil, Matthew Cutts, Stuart Dawes, Lucinda Gill, Thomas Goodridge, Nicky Griffiths, Matthew Hunt, Mark Isherwood, Charlotte Jeffery, Ben Jennings, Joseph Peters, Chris Stoddart, Helen Ternent, Matt Thorpe and Ben Wheeler.

JERSEY BOYS opened in London in 2008 and has been seen by nearly 23 million people worldwide. Now celebrating its eighth year in London, it is firmly established as one of the West End’s longest-running and most popular shows. A second UK production of JERSEY BOYS is currently breaking box office records on its first ever tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

JERSEY BOYS is the remarkable true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks. These four boys from New Jersey became one of the most successful bands in pop history, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and sold 100 million records worldwide, all before they turned 30. The show is packed with their hits, including Beggin’SherryWalk Like A ManDecember, 1963 (Oh What a Night)Big Girls Don’t CryMy Eyes Adored YouLet’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got)Bye Bye BabyCan’t Take My Eyes Off YouWorking My Way Back to YouFallen AngelRag Doll and Who Loves You.

Winner of Broadway’s Tony, London’s Olivier and Australia’s Helpmann Awards for Best New Musical, JERSEY BOYS is the winner of 57 major awards worldwideJERSEY BOYS played its 4,000th performance on Broadway on 2 July 2015 and is now the 12th longest running show in Broadway history.  As well as still running on Broadway and in the West End, and on tour in the UK and Ireland, JERSEY BOYS can be seen in Las Vegas and across the United States on its US National Tour.

JERSEY BOYS is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe. The London production is staged by the entire original Broadway creative team, led by director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, with scenic design by Klara Zieglerova, costume design by Jess Goldstein, lighting by Howell Binkley, sound by Steve Canyon Kennedy and projection design by Michael Clark. The orchestrations are by Steve Orich and the music supervision and vocal arrangements by Ron Melrose. 

JERSEY BOYS is produced in London by the Dodgers, with Joseph J. Grano, Tamara and Kevin Kinsella, Pelican Group, in association with Latitude Link, Rick Steiner, and a small clutch of UK colleagues.


Piccadilly Theatre

16 Denman Street

London W1D 7DY

Performances:  Tuesdays – Saturdays at 7.30pm, Tuesday & Saturday matinees at 3.00pm, Sundays at 5.00pm


Monday 21 December             No Performance

Tuesday 22 December            3.00pm & 7.30pm

Wednesday 23 December       7.30pm

Thursday 24 December           3.00pm

Friday 25 December                No performance

Saturday 26 December            7.30pm

Sunday 27 December                          5.00pm

Monday 28 December             3.00pm & 7.30pm

Tuesday 29 December            3.00pm & 7.30pm

Wednesday 30 December       3.00pm & 7.30pm

Thursday 31 December           7.30pm

Friday 1 January                      No Performance

Saturday 2 January                  3.00pm & 7.30pm

Sunday 3 January                    5.00pm

Current booking period to 23 October 2016

Tickets from £24.50

Box Office:  0844 871 7630

Website:  www.jerseyboyslondon.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JerseyBoysLondon    

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/JerseyBoysUK


Casting and sponsor announced for RADAR 2015 at the Bush Theatre

8e6d899a03ca2518_orgCasting and sponsor announced for RADAR 2015
Bush Theatre’s Festival of New Writing
11-26 November 2015


  • Tim Crouch, Paul Hunter and Hattie Morahan, to appear in Blank by Nassim Soleimanpour
  • RADAR Connect sponsored by Nick Hern Books

Tim Crouch, Paul Hunter and Hattie Morahan will each appear in acclaimed Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s one-person show Blank as part of RADAR, the Bush Theatre’s annual festival of new writing. The show’s UK premiere will feature a different performer reading a sealed script every night. Paul Hunter will appear on 19th November, Tim Crouch on 20th November, and Hattie Morahan on 21st November.

radar2015-artworkandtitlenostrap (Custom).jpgThe Bush Theatre also announced today that RADAR Connect – a series of free theatre practice workshops for postgraduate students – will be sponsored by leading theatre publishers Nick Hern Books, who publish some of the UK’s most exciting new drama, including many original plays produced at the Bush, together with a wide range of authoritative theatre books written by well-known theatre practitioners. Nick Hern Books also publish Arinze Kene and Steve Waters, both of whom are presenting work in this year’s festival.

RADAR is a festival presenting the Bush’s annual snapshot of the very best of contemporary new writing, from London to the rest of the UK and beyond. Embracing a wide range of voices, styles and experiences, the aim of RADAR is to champion a new generation of artists, to present them to a wider audience, to offer a testing ground for new work, and to begin and nurture long-term relationships between the Bush and emerging artists.

Each night of the festival two shows will be presented in a double bill under one ticket. As in previous years, RADAR CONNECT will run alongside the festival – a series of free practical workshops for postgraduate students, led by a cohort of professionals working in the industry.

RADAR 2015 will see the Bush embrace new artists such as Racheal Ofori and Ben Duke, as well as welcoming returning writers and companies such as Steve Waters, Nassim Soleimanpour and Antler.

Tim Crouch was an actor for many years before starting to write – and he still performs in much of his work.  His plays include My ArmENGLAND (a play for galleries), the OBIE award winning An Oak TreeThe Author, Adler & Gibb and (with Andy Smith) what happens to the hope at the end of the evening. Tim tours his work nationally and internationally. He also writes for younger audiences. A series of plays inspired by Shakespeare’s lesser characters includes I, Malvolio.  For the RSC, Tim has directed The Taming of the ShrewKing Lear and I, Cinna (the poet) – all for young audiences. Tim is published by Oberon Books.

Paul Hunter will soon be filming This Beautiful Fantastic. He has just finished filming the feature film The Jungle Book. He also stars in the feature films Pan, directed by Joe Wright;Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh, and Alice Through The Looking Glass, directed by James Bobin. He could recently be seen in Marvellous for BBC. Theatre credits include Tartuffefor Birmingham Rep; The Fantasticks for the Duchess; Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Nights Dream and Troilus & Cressida all for the Globe and Rapunzel for Kneehigh. TV credits include Wizards Vs Aliens for BBC; regular Dr Cooper on Trinity for Roughcut and Mitchell And Kenyon for the BBC. Film credits include Maleficent; Snow White And The Huntsman; Pirates Of The Caribbean and One Day. Paul is a founder member and artistic director of award-winning theatre company Told By An Idiot.

Hattie Morahan’s work in theatre include The Changeling (Sam Wanamaker playhouse); A Doll’s House (Young Vic / West End / BAM – Evening Standard Award, Critics Circle Award); The Dark Earth and the Light Sky (Almeida); The Real Thing (Old Vic); The Seagull, Three More Sleepless Nights, Time and the Conways, …some trace of her, Iphigenia at Aulis and Power (National Theatre); The Family Reunion (Donmar); The City (Royal Court); See How they Run; Arsenic and Old Lace (West End). Her work outside London includes Plenty at the Sheffield Crucible, directed by Thea Sharrock; Twelfth Night (WYP); and for the RSC, Night of the Soul, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, Hamlet, Love in a Wood, and Huis Clos.

On screen, her work includes Beauty and the Beast; Ballot Monkeys; Mr Holmes; Alice Through the Looking Glass; The Outcast; Arthur and George; Outnumbered; Summer in February; Eternal Law; Money; Lewis; Bodies; Marple; The Peacock Spring; The Bank Job; The Golden CompassSense and Sensibility.





RADAR 2015
11 – 26 November 2015
Bush Theatre, London

All shows presented in double bills, starting at 7.30pm

Wed 11 Nov
Misty by Arinze Kene
Dirty Little Secrets aka The Blues Show by Jumoké Fashola

Thu 12 Nov
No More Worries by Simon Mole
Misty by Arinze Kene

Fri 13 Nov
This Is How We Die by Christopher Brett BaileyNo More Worries by Simon Mole

Sat 14 Nov
This Is How We Die by Christopher Brett Bailey
No More Worries by Simon Mole

Mon 16 Nov
Portrait by Racheal Ofori/Fuel
Labels by Worklight Theatre

Tue 17 Nov
Portrait by Racheal Ofori/Fuel
If I Were Me by Antler

Wed 18 Nov
Portrait by Racheal Ofori/Fuel
If I Were Me by Antler

Thu 19 Nov
Blank by Nassim Soleimanpour
If I Were Me by Antler

Fri 20 Nov
Blank by Nassim Soleimanpour
Paradise Lost by Ben Duke/Lost Dog

Sat 21 Nov
Blank by Nassim Soleimanpour
Paradise Lost by Ben Duke/Lost Dog

Mon 23 Nov
In A Vulnerable Place by Steve Waters
Solo by Curious Directive

Tue 24 Nov
The Ground Is On Fire by Nasim Aghili
In A Vulnerable Place by Steve Waters

Wed 25 Nov
The Ground Is On Fire by Nasim Aghili
In A Vulnerable Place by Steve Waters

Thu 26 Nov
The Ground Is On Fire by Nasim Aghili
Pheasant Plucker by Lily Bevan

Bush Theatre
7 Uxbridge Road, London, W12 8LJ

Box Office: 020 8743 5050 / bushtheatre.co.uk

Early bird tickets £10
Standard tickets £15

RADAR Off Script £4 per debate and discounts available for multiple bookings



Actor Alex Giannini dies ahead of Plymouth Theatre Royal show

_85891057_alex-gianniniActor Alex Giannini, who appeared in the film Legend about twin gangsters the Krays, has died ahead of a theatre performance in Plymouth.

His death meant Friday’s showing of Mack and Mabel at the Theatre Royal was cancelled.

His agent tweeted: “The talented and much loved actor @GianniniAlex died suddenly of natural causes yesterday.”

Actress Anna Marie Cseh said on Twitter it was a “real pleasure and privilege” to work with him.

Giannini, 52, also appeared in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Miss Monday, and featured in TV shows such as The Bill and Dalziel and Pascoe.

Agents Felix de Wolfe added: “An incredible life force has left the building.”

Stephanie Sirr, chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse tweeted: “Shocking, terrible news. A lovely man with incredible zest for life. A great performer.”

The performance on Friday evening was cancelled about an hour before the curtain was due to rise.

David Bloom, of the Chichester Festival Theatre production company, said: “There has been a company bereavement and so the performance tonight has had to be cancelled.”

All remaining performances would go ahead as scheduled, the theatre said.

The theatre wrote on Facebook: “Thank you to everyone who was affected by last night’s cancellation, for your patience and understanding.”

Theatregoer Debbie Lumsden said on the same Facebook page: “Very sad news which was handled with great sensitivity by all the staff at the Theatre Royal last night.”

From www.bbc.co.uk

Fairy Powered Productions send condolences to his family and friends

5 Guys Chillin’ Review

King’s Head Theatre Pub – 1st – 24th October. Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Peter Darney has amalgamated and recombined over 50 hours of anonymous interviews to create a fantastic piece of verbatim drama. With the programme including a glossary of terms for the uninitiated, we are introduced to the gay Chill-Out scene.

J (Damien Hughes) is the host of the party, and welcomes 4 men into his home. They immediately get comfortable, changing into shorts (for easy access), snorting drugs and chatting about their preferences and experiences.

The characters are well written and just about manage to avoid stereotypes. J is funny and relaxed, M (Tom Holloway) has a melancholy side, R (Elliot Hadley) and B (Michael Matrovski – nonchalantly displaying his backside all night) are a couple – R is hyperactively camp and Northern, and B is older, more composed and occasionally menacing. PJ (Shri Patel) is an Asian man who appears out of his depth at first.

In between the drug taking (whilst bemoaning the fact that nobody climaxes because of all the drugs), dancing and simulated sex acts, the characters share hysterical anecdotes about their previous parties and misadventures with drugs. The etiquette of sex parties is debated, and wonderful examples of what happens when rules aren’t followed are shared with glee. There are a few wince inducing stories, but they are told with such openness and honesty that you end up laughing along with the actors.

The tone gradually darkens as the party goes on. J and B’s nonchalant attitudes to their HIV status crumble as they tell of the nights on which they were infected. Both actors effortlessly allow the veneer of bravado to be stripped away revealing heartbreaking regret and vulnerability. The relationship between R and B becomes increasingly questionable as R reveals his past – Elliot Hadley’s almost childlike honesty and helplessness as he speaks is a revelation after his earlier frenetic performance. PJ’s experiences as a gay Pakistani going along with an arranged marriage are portrayed matter of factly and with a sense of acceptance and loss by Patel. Tom Holloway conveys the deep dissatisfaction and emptiness of M’s life expertly. The man needs a hug.

The actors work together brilliantly and the superb writing makes the audience feel as if we are voyeurs at the flat. This conceit is cleverly continued as the audience leaves the theatre. There is no curtain call, instead the actors remain in character and silently (apart from a few grunts and groans) continue with the party.

Yes, there is nudity, sex, drugs and strong language, but this isn’t a glorified peep show. Observations about gay men seeing sex as a pastime, the ridiculous reality of sex parties, and R’s confession that he prefers to cuddle in bed and watch a DVD, are just some of the things that combine to make 5 Guys Chillin’ a funny, revealing, brutally honest and ultimately sad drama. This is a party you should not miss.

Sir Kenneth Branagh: The new President of RADA

kenneth-branagh290RADA have today announced that Sir Kenneth Branagh is their new President, succeeding Lord Attenborough who was President from 2002 until his death in 2014.

Branagh graduated from RADA in 1981 and since then has achieved notable success as an actor, director, producer and screen writer.

Branagh becomes RADA’s sixteenth president, and commented “It’s such a privilege to be asked to take up this role. I am delighted to see – and now help – RADA continue to nurture and support generations of acting and technical talent. To be able to give back to the school which provided me with so much is a wonderful honour.

Director of RADA, Edward Kemp, added “We’re thrilled to have Ken on board for the next step of the RADA journey, which includes plans to make our training even more accessible and public-facing and to renovate our Studios building to maintain our position as a world-leading drama school. The diversity of Ken’s career, not only as an actor, but as director, producer and beyond are an inspiration to us all, staff and students alike.

Branagh, was born and raised in Belfast, the son of working-class Protestant. At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire. He appeared in school theatrical productions which included Toad of Toad Hall and Oh, What a Lovely War!

One of Branagh’s early professional successes was in Northern Ireland for his role as Billy, the title character in the BBC’s Play for Today trilogy – known as the Billy Plays (1982–84), written by Graham Reid and set in Belfast. Immediately after leaving RADA he won the 1982 SWET Award for Best Newcomer, for his role as Judd in Julian Mitchell’s Another Country.

Branagh became a major presence on the British stage in a 1988 touring season of three Shakespeare plays under the title of Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, which also played a repertory season at the Phoenix Theatre in London. It featured directorial debuts for Judi Dench with Much Ado About Nothing (starring Branagh and Samantha Bond as Benedick and Beatrice), Geraldine McEwan with As You Like It, and Derek Jacobi directing Branagh in the title role inHamlet, with Sophie Thompson as Ophelia.

Nobody’s Business Review

King’s Head Theatre Pub – 30th September – 24th October.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

A comedy about the ludicrous loopholes of EU funding could have been a satirical bullseye. Unfortunately Nobody’s Business misses the target completely and buries itself in bad 70s sitcom land.

Hugo is a rather dodgy businessman setting up an office in a building managed by Howard. He meets Sybil the concierge, who ends up posing as his secretary when clients turn up earlier than expected. Hugo’s scam is finding inept inventors and convincing them to apply for EU development grants, with him acting as consultant and pocketing most of the money. Throw in Hugo’s artist girlfriend and hilarity ensues… apparently.

Sylvia Freedman’s plot is predictable and full of clichés and missed opportunities for cutting humour. The characters are written one dimensionally and some jokes are hammered home so much that you expect a Basil Brush style “Boom Boom” afterwards. When the biggest point of interest in the first act is the fate of a discarded chicken tikka, and loudest laugh of the night comes from an Albanian spouting incomprehensible nonsense punctuated with “F***wits”, you know there’s something wrong. At times I was willing the actors to improvise rather than follow the clunky script.

On the King’s Head’s tiny stage there are obvious staging issues, but the decision to mark scene changes by using coloured lighting, playing “Nobody’s Business” and having the actors on stage miming and dancing like middle aged librarians at their first swingers’ party is slightly jarring. The only time this works is when Hugo joins in involuntarily – I thought someone had summoned Beetlejuice to save the day. The effects used at the end of act one are also bizarre and unsatisfactory, as if it’s been patched on from a different production.  

The cast is game and committed. Katy Manning, as Sybil is delightfully ditzy at first, but as the play progresses, her character becomes simply annoying. Perhaps Freedman thought that the cod philosophical lines and revelations about Sylvia’s past would make her multidimensional, but it just doesn’t work. Manning’s constant movement around the stage doesn’t help either – seasickness begins to set in if you follow her too closely. However, Manning does a fantastic job with the material she is given – I can’t help but wonder what she and Tristan Beint (Hugo) could have achieved with a better script. Their interactions were fantastic and Beint plays slimy Hugo with just the right amount of greed, frustration and fear that makes you root for the character, even though you know you shouldn’t.

Claire Jeater as Imogen has a thankless task. Her character just has nothing to do, which is a shame, as Jeater is a fine actress. As Howard, Stephen Oswald milks every drop of comedy possible from his manchild character, and Michael Nowak as Ervin is like a young David Walliams – getting lots of laughs for his silent physical comedy. And then there’s poor Jeremy Drakes, who has to play two “hysterical” inventors – I’ve seen funnier creations in my hanky – before playing Neville the inventor of the Shopalong. There is a half decent running joke with Hugo forgetting Neville’s name, and Drakes doesn’t go over the top with his gentle portrayal of nerdy Neville.

At one point Hugo talks about EU grants fostering the need to fail, and arts grants fostering the right to fail. Well this production has flaunted its right. It is such a shame as the talented cast could be amazing. It’s just the script that needs a development grant.