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Casting announced for After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life at Finborough Theatre

After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CASTING has been announced for the first London production in over 120 years of Dion Boucicault’s rip-roaring Victorian melodrama, After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life, which runs at the Finborough Theatre from June 13 to July 6, 2019.

The line up includes Toby Wynn-Davies (as Chandos Bellingham), Simon De Deney (Old Tom), Steven France (Charlie Pointer), Tom Fyans (Gordon Chumley), Victoria Jeffrey (Dicey Morris), Gabi King (Music Ensemble), Jonathan Le Billon (George Medhurst), Rosa Lennox (Music Ensemble), Helen Potter (Music Ensemble), Jazz Sanders (Rose Eggerton), Kate Stafford (Aviona Crumpet) and Jemima Watling (Eliza Medhurst).

Previously Posted: After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life was written in 1868, the year the Finborough Theatre’s building was constructed.

Now, the first London production in over 120 years of Dion Boucicault’s rip-roaring Victorian melodrama, directed by the multi-award-winning Phil Willmott, runs at the Finborough Theatre from Thursday, June 13 to Saturday, July 6, 2019.

It’s hardly the place to take a gentleman. The night- birds of London roost there.…

Dion Boucicault’s sweeping melodrama, involving train crashes, river rescues, dastardly villains, plucky heroines, salacious scandal and dark secrets, crackles with the energy of a London of fresh peril and opportunity.

The new underground railway is a thing of wonder, the early Salvation Army shines a light on the grinding poverty of the East End, and high and low-lifes frequent gambling dens and revel in the illicit sex of the music halls.

All the while Scotland Yard struggle to police increasingly sophisticated financial fraud and marauding bands of ex-soldiers lately discharged into destitution and a life of crime.

Can love and honour prevail in such a world?

Last seen on stage in London in 1896 and filmed twice in both the UK and Hollywood in 1915, After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life is a classic Victorian melodrama by Dion Boucicault, one of the greatest theatrical figures of the 19th century. It is also startlingly contemporary with its thrilling climax on the London Underground, and its sympathetic portrayal of London’s homeless community.

Playwright Dion Boucicault (1820-1890) was a legendary writer, actor and theatre manager. Born into a middle-class family in Dublin, he moved to London to study, and his first play, A Legend of the Devil’s Dyke, opened in Brighton in 1838. He had a string of successful productions in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre from 1841-1854, most notably London Assurance (1841) and The Corsican Brothers (1852). Some of his other famous works include The Octoroon (1859), recently seen in London in a new version by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, The Coleen Bawn (1860) and The Shaughraun (1874).

After Dark; or, A Drama of London Life is based on Les Oiseaux de Proie (1854) by French authors Eugène Grangé and Adolphe d’Ennery. Eugène Grangé (1810-1887), a playwright, librettist and singer, wrote over 350 plays and 300 songs. Adolphe d’Ennery (1811-1899) was a playwright, novelist and librettist, and wrote over 200 plays, most notably The Two Orphans (1875) which was adapted in 1921 by D.W. Griffith as the film Orphans of the Storm. He also wrote librettos for Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet and Adolphe Adam.

Director Phil Willmott is a multi-award winning director, artistic director, playwright, composer, librettist, teacher, dramaturg, arts journalist and performer.

Alongside his innovative reinterpretations of the classics, musical theatre revivals and new musical development, his notable productions of contemporary and recent drama include F*cking Men (Finborough Theatre/Kings Head Theatre/West End), Liza, Liza, Liza (UK tour for Bill Kenwright), Billy Liar, Athol Fugard’s Master Harold… and the Boys (Liverpool Playhouse), Angels in America and Kiss of the Spider Woman (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Finishing the Picture, Incident at Vichy, The American Clock, The Notebook of Trigorin, Country Magic, Crime and Punishment, The Lower Depths, The Grapes of Wrath, Trelawny of the Wells and Loyalties (Finborough Theatre), Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, Three Sisters in a version by Tracy Letts, Heartbreak House and The Cherry Orchard (Union Theatre) and Encounter, a new gay love story inspired by Brief Encounter (Above the Stag Theatre).

Casting has not yet been announced.

Also at Finborough Theatre: the world premiere of playwright and director Julia Pascal’s award-winning Blueprint Medea (May 21 to June 8) and Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights (June 16 to July 4).

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 01223 357851 or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions.