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Jacobean comedy with a 1950s twist

Two of Britain’s biggest names in theatre – English Touring Theatre and The Royal Shakespeare Company – are collaborating for the first time to tour their innovative production of Thomas Middleton’s Jacobean comedy, A Mad World My Masters. And it stops off at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre from 5 to 7 March.

The action is set in London’s Soho, 1956.  Here, glamour rubs up against filth, and it likes it!  The posh mix with musicians, whores and racketeers; virginity is ‘no city trade’, and the dashingly cash-strapped bachelor, Richard Follywit, in pursuit of quick cash and a good time has to live on his wits.A MAD WORLD MY MASTERS2

Turning con-man to fool his rich uncle, Follywit variously becomes a lord, a high class call girl, and – God forbid – a poor actor. But a beautiful Soho tart is also on the scam: a whore to some, a religious instructor to others, and a debutante in need of an eligible bachelor.

Sean Foley and Phil Porter’s edited version of Middleton’s play is faithful to the original text but adapts it to fit the seedy world of 1950s Soho, updating character names and including songs of the time to enhance the biting satire of lust and deception in the life of Bohemian London.

Sean Foley said, “After working on A Mad World My Masters at the RSC studio, and then in production at The Swan, we came to one simple conclusion: though pretty unknown, this is one of the most hilariously wicked plays ever written.

“With our 50’s-style club band and fantastic R and B soul singer framing the action we could have live music too – which we know that the original had – which seemed perfect for what Middleton intended: the play itself is a vibrant celebration of live theatrical entertainment. A Mad World My Masters knows it’s having fun, poking fun at the audience, and it still makes us laugh like they must have done in 1605: uproariously, and at ourselves.”A MAD WORLD MY MASTERS3

English Touring Theatre Director Rachel Tackley said, ‘‘We are incredibly excited to be working with the RSC on such a magnificent project. This is the first time English Touring Theatre have collaborated with the RSC and, thanks to this, audiences across the country will have the opportunity to experience this hilariously entertaining production at their local theatre.”

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran said, “It is great news that, after its successful run last year in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, we have the chance to share Sean Foley’s wonderfully fresh production of A Mad World My Masters with audiences around the country, thanks to a new collaboration with English Touring Theatre.”

A Mad World My Masters is at Blackpool Grand Theatre from Thursday March 5 to Saturday March 7. Tickets from £18.50 with Concessions £3 off. Group prices available. Call Box Office on 01253 74 33 39 or visit the website.

 

 

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