Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais – the writing partnership behind screen hits including The Likely Lads, Porridge and The Commitments – have adapted Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick’s memoir I was Bono’s Doppelganger as a major new stage comedy, premiering at London’s Soho Theatre next month.
Chasing Bono, directed by Gordon Anderson, premieres as part of Soho Theatre’s famously non-Christmassy Christmas show slot this year, running from 6 December 2018 to 19 January 2019, with a press night on 13 December.
The year is 1987 and Dublin gangster Danny Machin wants a fair and balanced profile written of his life, whilst now-writer Neil is thinking of ending his. Danny sees an opportunity and kidnaps Neil. Neil becomes Danny’s biographer. Danny becomes Neil’s shrink.
Probing the reasons of bad decisions, including his break-up with his girlfriend, Gloria, Chasing Bono is about music, aspiration and self-discovery, and Neil’s life-long friendship and rivalry with his Irish international superstar mate, U2’s Bono (born Paul David Hewson).
Chasing Bono is a lovingly fictionalised account of music journalist, author, broadcaster and U2 biographer Neil McCormick’s 2005 memoir I was Bono’s doppelganger, which Sir Elton John described as “the best book I have ever read about trying to make it in the music business”. The book also inspired the 2011 film Killing Bono, starring Ben Barnes and Martin McCann.
The new stage play has commonalities with some of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’ previous work, which includes iconic television comedies including Porridge, The Likely Lads, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Lovejoy, as well as behind-the-scenes music films The Commitments and Still Crazy.
Commenting on the play’s premiere, the co-writers said:
“Chasing Bono has elements of some of our previous work. Like Porridge it is set in a captive situation. It’s Irish, like The Commitments. And it’s funny. (Unless nobody laughs, in which case it’s a tragedy.) Oh, and it’s about music, aspiration and self-discovery. And there are lots of good restaurants within walking distance of Soho Theatre. All good reasons to come along.”
The premiere production is helmed by BAFTA nominated, award-winning British theatre and television director, and Soho Theatre Artistic Associate, Gordon Anderson (The Catherine Tate Show, The Inbetweeners and Fresh Meat). It is produced by Sally Wood for Sally Humphreys Productions Ltd, and Douglas McJannet for Covent Garden Productions. It is a welcome return for Wood, who was last at Soho Theatre in 2012 producing Sadie Frost in Touched.
Sally Wood said: “It’s a huge honour to be working alongside the brilliant Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, and it’s great to be back at Soho Theatre. I’m very excited about this production and look forward to seeing you there!”
Chasing Bono runs from 6 December 2018 to 19 January 2019 at Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.15pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £11-27. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have enjoyed a unique creative partnership in television, movies and theatre. Their career began in British television where they created several iconic series including The Likely Lads, Porridge, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Lovejoy. They have written many feature films including Otley, Villain, The Commitments, for which they won the Peter Sellers Award for Comedy and Still Crazy, which won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture.
They spent four years as writers and supervising producers with Tracy Ullman on HBO’s multi-Emmy award-winning series, Tracy Takes On and worked extensively on The Rock and Pearl Harbor, for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In the last few years, they returned to television with Archangel, starring Daniel Craig and Spies of Warsaw with David Tennant. Four feature films were produced in completely diverse genres: a sports film, Goal! The Dream Begins, an animated movie, Flushed Away, a heist movie, The Bank Job and a musical, Across the Universe, directed by Julie Taymor and nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Picture, Musical or Comedy). Their most recent film is My Generation, presented by Sir Michael Caine, released earlier this year. Apart from Chasing Bono, they have several other theatrical ventures in the pipeline including their recent rock musical, Jukebox Hero.
Gordon Anderson is an award-winning British theatre and television director. Gordon began his career in the theatre, directing for many of the UK’s leading theatre and opera companies including the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange, Scottish Opera and English Touring Opera. He also co-founded The League of Gentlemen comedy group, directing their earliest live performances. He was Artistic Director of Actors Touring Company from 2001 to 2006, where he commissioned, produced and directed new and international work that toured extensively throughout the UK. He trained as a television director at the BBC and went on to direct and write for The Catherine Tate Show. Subsequently, he directed Suburban Shootout, The Inbetweeners, Moving Wallpaper, Gates, Shameless, Fresh Meat, Badults, Lovesick and Endeavour. He has been nominated for a BAFTA four times with three different television shows.
Ok, if you really have to dig out old pictures of me … This out of focus snap fell out of a folder in my filing cabinet today. I forgot it existed. Rome 2000. Who could those inebriated young men be? pic.twitter.com/N81reF84pC
— Neil McCormick (@neil_mccormick) October 31, 2018
Neil McCormick is the Telegraph’s chief pop and rock music critic. He is an author, television presenter and radio pundit. Neil was born England in 1961 and grew up in Scotland and Ireland. He attended Mount Temple Comprehensive in Dublin with members of U2 and was a singer in several bands, including Yeah! Yeah! (1980-83) and Shook Up! (1984-89).
McCormick’s musical misadventures are laid out in painful detail in his memoir Killing Bono (originally published by Penguin in 2003 as I Was Bono‘s Doppelganger). Sir Elton John described it as “the best book I have ever read about trying to make it in the music business.” A film of Killing Bono was released by Paramount in 2011, with Ben Barnes starring as Neil and Martin McCann as Bono. Neil collaborated on U2’s autobiography, U2 By U2 (Harper Collins, 2005).
Neil’s journalistic career started at Hot Press music magazine in Dublin in 1978. He was a contributing editor for GQ magazine from 1990-96 and has been rock critic for the Daily Telegraph since 1996. A regular guest on BBC TV and radio shows, since 2012 Neil has presented his own interview show on Vintage TV, Neil McCormick’s Needle Time. Neil still occasionally makes music under the alias The Ghost Who Walks and as frontman for Groovy Dad.