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David Gilmore to direct Jane Clegg at the Finborough Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IN A production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre and directed by David Gilmore, St John Ervine’s 1913 drama Jane Clegg runs at the Kensington venue from Tuesday, April 23 to Saturday, May 18, 2019.

I used to think you were so fine before I married you.

London, 1913. Travelling salesman Henry Clegg has taken his wife, Jane, for granted for most of their marriage, as she endures his dishonesty, infidelity and neglect, as well as his demanding mother.

But when Henry is accused of embezzling money from his firm and his latest affair is revealed, Jane realises she must finally escape her life of domestic abuse for herself and her children – only to find that for women without money and connections breaking free isn’t so easy.

Written in 1913 at the height of the campaign for votes for women, Jane Clegg premiered at Manchester’s famous Gaiety Theatre, before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre – where it was compared to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Dame Sybil Thorndike created the title role and performed it all over the world, including in a BBC Radio broadcast in 1967.

Unseen in London since 1944, Jane Clegg now receives a long-overdue new production, directed by renowned director David Gilmore. The Finborough Theatre has also previously rediscovered two acclaimed plays by St John Ervine, most notably Mixed Marriage in 2011.

The cast includes Alix Dunmore (as Jane Clegg), Victoria Lennox (Mrs Clegg), Sidney Livingstone (Mr Morrison), Brian Martin (Henry Clegg), Eve Prenelle (Jenny Clegg), Matthew Sim (Mr Munce) and Theo Wilkinson (Johnny Clegg).

Director David Gilmore has directed seventeen West End productions including the original award-winning productions of Daisy Pulls It Off and Lend Me a Tenor, and the award-winning musical The Hired Man by Melvyn Bragg and Howard Goodall, all produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. His production of Grease (Dominion Theatre, Cambridge Theatre and Victoria Palace Theatre) recently completed an almost unbroken UK run of 20 years, and has also played in many European and Asian cities. His production of Defending the Caveman (Apollo Theatre) won an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.

Playwright St John Ervine (1883-1971) was a dramatist, novelist, biographer and critic. Born in East Belfast to a Protestant family, he was for a time an unlikely choice as Literary Manager at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under W. B. Yeats. His many plays include Mixed Marriage (1911) and John Ferguson (1915), both of which were also recently rediscovered by the Finborough Theatre.

In later life, Ervine turned his back on Ireland and its politics, serving in the First World War (where he lost a leg). He settled in England where he became a West End dramatist of drawing room comedies, as well as a noted drama critic for The Observer and The Morning Star, and a biographer of both Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 01223 357851 (calls are free but there will be a 5% booking fee) or visit www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/.