After his screen success in US fantasy series Once Upon a Time, London-born Daniel Francis returns to the UK stage to play an American detective in new 1950s-set play COPS at Southwark Playhouse. He told us more about what attracted him to the play. Time to get booking!
COPS, written by former American serviceman Tony Tortora and directed by Andy Jordan, runs at London’s Southwark Playhouse from 15 January to 1 February 2020, with a press night – including post-show Q&A chaired by Mates founder Terri Paddock – on Friday 17 January.
Chicago. 1957. Four cops, of different ages, classes and races, all suspicious of each other, must grab a gangster turned state witness before the Mob can get him. Outside their office, the world is changing. The Civil Rights movement. Race riots. Mass consumerism. Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis has arrived. Sex is everywhere.
Talking to… Daniel Francis
Trained at LAMDA, Daniel Francis’ many stage credits include Twelfth Night and The Comedy of Errors (RSC), The Brothers Size, Blackta (Young Vic), Off the Endz (Royal Court), The Hounding of David Oluwale, One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (Eclipse), Othello, The Mountaintop and Bintou.
Onscreen, Francis is well known for his role in the American television series Once Upon a Time, and his other credits include Small Axe, Trail of Guilt, Law and Order, Eternal Lead, Homefront, Holby City and Fast Girls. Visit DanielFrancis.com for more.
Of the many roles you’ve played to date, which is your favourite?
It’s difficult to highlight a favourite one because they all gave me different experiences. I definitely enjoyed playing Dr Facilier on Once Upon a Time. Though it was a television series, not a stage play, it was wonderfully theatrical with the costumes and fantasy world.
What attracted you to COPS?
Initially, the dialogue, which is sharp and witty. COPS deals with some pretty risque topics and puts a humorous spin on them – I was drawn to the challenge of pulling that off. I’d never heard of the writer Tony Tortora before, which was a little surprising.
Tell us about your character.
I play an ambitious, hardened Detective in 1950s Chicago. Having worked my way up from a patrol officer to a Sergeant, my desire is to continue to rise against the odds in a racist justice system. Sounds very serious and dramatic; however, with such tension, an enormous amount of comedy bursts through. That makes it fun to play and watch.
What’s your favourite line in the play?
“Waddle downstairs and hand it to Mabel, she lip-reads”
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned in your research for the play?
It’s been fascinating learning about Chicago at that time, the experience for black folk migrating from the Southern states in the US to the Northern cities. And, of course, detective work.
Anything from the 1950s you wish we had in the 2020s?
All in all, we’re better off now, I feel – although, within communities, there certainly was a greater sense of family and togetherness.
What to you think audiences will get from COPS?
Hopefully, a lot of belly laughter followed by some food for thought.
COPS runs from 15 January to 1 February 2020 at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD with Monday to Saturday evening performances at 8pm, Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3.30pm. Tickets are priced £14-22. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!