After they make their West End debut with the transfer of 1990s-set Education Education Education, award-winning company The Wardrobe Ensemble conclude this summer with a return to the Edinburgh Fringe and their brand-new, contemporary tale The Last of the Pelican Daughters.
Created as part of the Royal & Derngate’s Resident Ensemble programme and developed in partnership with Complicité, The Last of the Pelican Daughters will preview at Royal & Derngate’s Royal stage in Northampton on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 July 2019, before playing at Edinburgh’s Pleasance Beyond 31 July to 25 August.
The production marks the company’s return to Edinburgh following its The Scotsman Fringe First Award and The Stage Edinburgh Award-winning, smash-hit Education Education Education and The Stage Award-winning 1972: The Future of Sex.
In folklore, pelican mothers feed their young on their own blood. In 2019, four sisters are trying to divide their mother’s house between them.
Joy wants a baby, Storm wants to be seen, Sage wants to be paid, Maia doesn’t want anyone to find out her secret and Granny’s in a wheelchair on day release. Mum’s presence still seeps through the ceiling and the floors. The Pelican Daughters are home for the last time.
The Wardrobe Ensemble use their trademark irreverent humour and lovable characters to tackle the idea of what it means for young people to grapple with inheritance, loss and justice in this comedy about four sisters trying to come to terms with their mother’s death.
The Last of the Pelican Daughters is directed by The Wardrobe Ensemble members Jesse Jones and Tom Brennan. Brennan commented:
“The Wardrobe Ensemble are our second family. We squabble, play and discuss the world with all the intensity of a group of siblings, so to make our version of a family drama felt like an amazing opportunity. It’s about what we inherit from our past, what we choose to bring into the future and the difficulty of getting along when the outside world gets in the way of compassionate thinking.
“This was such a terrifying show for us to begin making, both in content and scale. But Complicité gave us permission to think bigger, deeper and over a long time period. It’s felt amazing to make this complex and emotional show with the knowledge and experience of our favourite theatre company. If The Wardrobe Ensemble feel like a group of siblings, Complicité feel like our protective parents in the best way.
“We are also thrilled to be reuniting with Royal & Derngate in Northampton, who co-commissioned Education Education Education in 2017. James Dacre and his staff provided us with so much support and knowledge last time, allowing us to develop a show for the mid-scale. For a theatre of this calibre to be taking a risk on an unconventional company like The Wardrobe Ensemble is very brave and we love them for taking that risk.”
Polly Gifford, Executive Director of Complicité said: “The Wardrobe Ensemble intrigued us from the outset. Alongside their obvious talent, they embody many of the values that have underpinned Complicité’s work for 35 years, including their commitment to storytelling and ensemble working, which made them a company we wanted to get to know. Our relationship has been exciting and stimulating, and it’s wonderful to see the work we’ve supported come to fruition with The Last of the Pelican Daughters in partnership with Royal & Derngate Northampton, particularly as it’s showing at Pleasance Beyond alongside our Complicité Associates production I’ll Take You to Mrs Cole! – two fantastic shows for Complicité’s return to the Fringe after many years.”
Royal & Derngate’s Artistic Director, James Dacre, said: “Two years ago, this brilliant young company made their main stage debut at Royal & Derngate with a production they developed over many months with our partner schools in Northamptonshire. We’re delighted that they have joined us as one of our four Resident Ensemble companies to develop The Last of the Pelican Daughters and work across the organisation in supporting our communities. We are very pleased to be partnering with Complicité – one of the world’s great ensembles – on producing this promising new show.”