Two plays by Rosalind Blessed, The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People and Lullabies for the Lost, will open the Old Red Lion Theatre’s 2020, featuring a cast including the playwright and her mother Hildegard Neil. Book those tickets now!
The dramas run in repertoire at the Islington venue from 7 January to 1 February 2020.
The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People is a study of domestic abuse. It asks what causes a mind to unravel and why we don’t recognise the dangers lurking under our own roofs until it’s too late. This is not a story of a monster and a victim – life is not that simple.
In Lullabies for the Lost, eight souls come together to share their secret stories as they desperately try to escape their self-created limbo. Looking at modern mental health and exploring depression, social anxiety, childlessness, hoarding and eating disorders, Lullabies for the Lost remains full of humour and ultimately hope, especially when there’s a helping paw to hold.
Shedding light on what we often keep hidden from the world, the plays are bound together by a discussion of common yet devastating issues. Both productions explore Blessed’s own personal experience. She writes openly, encouraging the audience to be honest with stories of their own mental health and reminding us there is hope and we are all in this together. Although some harrowing topics are addressed, they are full of laughter and the brightness of humanity.
Both are also united in their display of a dog’s love as a redemptive force. Dogs have been a profound help in stopping Blessed from going over the edge; they are shown to be vitally important in providing non-judgemental love when the stability of our mental health waivers.
Blessed stars in both shows. The writer and performer is joined in The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People by Duncan Wilkins, who appeared opposite Blessed in Towards Zero at The Mill at Sonning earlier this year, in a production directed by Brian Blessed. Rosalind’s father is also executive producer of the Old Red Lion shows.
The Lullabies for the Lost cast includes Blessed, Neil and two more of the Towards Zero cast, Kate Tydman and Chris Pybus. They’re joined by Helen Bang (Dancing with the Devil, Sadler’s Wells), Liam Mulvey (Kingsglaive, Square Enix), Nick Murphy (The Black Veil, UK tour) and Chris Porter (Pressure, UK tour and Park Theatre).
Caroline Devlin, who directed Blessed in Guildford Shakespeare Company’s King Lear, directs The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People, while Zoe Ford Burnett, who was recently Associate Director on National Theatre hit The Lehman Trilogy, directs Lullabies for the Lost.
Speaking about the productions, Blessed commented:
“In an increasingly isolated society awash with false images and glamorised stories, it’s so easy to imagine that you are alone. I wrote The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People as a person with a hell of a lot of problems; writing it left me feeling that perhaps it was not my fault after all. In Lullabies for the Lost, I opened up about my mental health and by treating the subject matter with honesty and an irreverent humour, it opened a conversation with the audience. You are not wrong. You are not broken. And you are not alone.”
When The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People opens at the Old Red Lion, it will mark a return to the venue where it originally received a public reading. It subsequently enjoyed a six-week run at the Courtyard Theatre, when London Theatre 1 said it had “the potential to save lives”, and went to the Edinburgh Festival in 2017. Andrew O’Hagan, writing in the New York Times Magazine, said the piece was “the play of the year for me”.
Blessed’s pair of plays are part of an exciting, eclectic season at the Old Red Lion Theatre, which includes Theatrical Niche’s new bee-inspired adaptation of Uncle Vanya, tale of A&E at Christmas, Blood Orange and spooky story The Signalman.
The Delights of Dogs and The Problems of People and Lullabies for the Lost run in rep at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, London, EC1V 4NJ from 7 January to 1 February 2019, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays 7.30pm, Matinees Saturday and Sunday 3pm. Tickets are priced £16.50 (£12.50 during previews). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!!