Taggart writer Glenn Chandler’s latest stage play is inspired by the incredible true story of the Hitler Youth ‘spyclists’ in England. It premieres at next month’s Edinburgh Fringe after previews this month at London’s Above the Stag Theatre. And then another London transfer?
The Good Scout, written and directed by Glenn Chandler for Boys of the Empire Productions, will run in Edinburgh at theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall from 2 to 24 August 2019, with London previews at Above the Stag Theatre on 26 and 27 July.
In the 1930s, Lord Baden-Powell and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s London ambassador, instigated exchange visits between British boy scouts and Hitler Youth, in the expectation that they would influence one another.
In Bassington, England, the local troop play host to a cycling party of Hitlerjugend – but are the German boys cyclists or ‘spyclists’? For Will and Jacob, two Rover Scouts on the cusp of manhood, it is a visit that will change their lives forever. As war looms, a heart-wrenching, darkly humorous drama about espionage, a scout’s honour and forbidden love unfolds.
This timely story, exploring a secret corner of British pre-war history, comes as fascism is again on the rise in Europe. In 1937, Hitler Youth were invited to various parts of the UK with their bicycles and cameras. MI5, alarmed by Baden-Powell’s reverence of Hitler, had them watched. In Tamworth, Staffordshire, the half-German scoutmaster saw himself as a local Commandant and was eventually imprisoned as a threat to the nation.
Glenn Chandler came across the story of the Hitler Youth visits by chance and thought it too good to pass up. The Good Scout is the first-ever play based on this astonishing historical record.
It stars Charlie Mackay, Amanda Bailey, Lewis Allcock, Clement Charles, and young German actors Clemente Lohr and Simon Stache. The grandmother of Stache was in the Hitler Youth and he has drawn on many of her experiences for his role.
The Good Scout is the latest Edfringe show from Boys of the Empire Productions, following Sandel (2013), Lord Dismiss Us (2017) and Kids Play (2018), which won the Broadway Baby Bobby Award for Best Play on the Fringe. All subsequently transferred to London.
To TV fans, Glenn Chandler is best known for Taggart which still holds the record as the longest-running TV detective series in the world (28 years). He gave up television to return to theatre a decade ago.
Glenn Chandler‘s Boys of the Empire Productions launched in 2008 with his play Boys of the Empire, the company’s first Edinburgh sellout, a schoolboy satire on the Iraq war, which transferred to the King’s Head. The company’s Edinburgh hits of Chandler’s Kids Play, Lord Dismiss Us and Sandel subsequently transferred to London’s Above the Stag, in 2018, 2017 and 2013, respectively.
Lord Dismiss Us was nominated for four Off West End Awards, including Best New Play and Best Production. Chandler’s other stage plays produced by Boys of the Empire include The Boy Under The Christmas Tree (King’s Head Theatre, 2018/9), The Custard Boys and The Lamplighters (at the Tabard Theatre, 2011 & 2012). Chandler has also written a number of musicals, most recently Fanny and Stella – The Shocking True Story, and The Sins of Jack Saul, both for Above the Stag.
Charlie Mackay (who plays Jacob Collier, Rover Scout) is a graduate of East 15 Acting School. Trained in Acting and Stage Combat, Charlie is a young actor with skills varying from gymnastics to sword and shield fighting. He also trained in a range of different dance styles from a very young age which has aided him in being a very physical actor who likes creating and performing movement. Charlie was recently the lead of Count Vronsky in a production of Anna Karenina. In his spare time Charlie likes to be active playing football and be lazy playing fantasy football (something he takes way too seriously). The Good Scout is his first professional engagement and one in which he is excited to play a cameo as Adolf Hitler!
Amanda Bailey (Rose Parrish) is an actor and voice artist, currently appearing on Audible as Katya in The Soul-Breaker. Last summer she reprised her role of Ethel Gumm in Judy! at the Hippodrome following a successful run at Arts Theatre in 2017. Other theatre credits include Creon in Antigone (The Hope Theatre), Ethel Gumm in Through The Mill (Southwark Playhouse and London Theatre Workshop) Maid, Mother-in-Law, Neighbour and Beggarwoman in Blood Wedding (Bread and Roses Theatre) Mrs Lily O’Valley in Death on the Ocean Wave (Peel Entertainment cruise), Mrs Birling in An Inspector Calls (Tin Shed Theatre regional tour), Mrs Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, Jean in Hitched, and Interpreter in The Interpreter (all at St James Theatre), Lady Bracknell in Ernest (Edinburgh Festival), Mrs Pugh in Under Milk Wood (Oval House) and Angelo in Measure for Measure (The Cockpit). Screen credits include Diane in Cold Callers and Police Officer in Project: Library.
Lewis Allcock (John Dory) played schoolmaster Eric Ashley in Lord Dismiss Us (Above the Stag) and provided voices for The Boy Under the Christmas Tree (King’s Head) for Boy of the Empire Productions. Other theatre highlights include Catnip (Arts Theatre), Tristram Shandy (Tabard Theatre), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Dell Theatre) and La Ronde (Tristan Bates Theatre). Screen work has included award-winning independent films such as Gholam (feature) and Evil’s Evil Cousin (short), whilst he was nominated as Best Actor in the Unrestricted View Film Festival for his lead role in One Year Later (short). Lewis has also appeared in several commercials (BBC, The Children’s Society, Breville). He trained at East 15.
Clement Charles (Will Parrish, Rover Scout) has just graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. As part of his training at RBC, Clement enjoyed such roles as Alan Seymour in Picnic by William Inge, Talthybius from Caroline Bird’s The Trojan Women, Marko in 3 Winters by Tena Štivičić and Konstantin in The Seagull. Instead of classes, Clement spent his last two months of drama school performing in the prestigious Fort Lovrijenac Theatre in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where he starred as Romeo in the Midsummer Scene’s headline production of Romeo and Juliet. His very first professional engagement however was in the summer between the second and third years of his training at RBC, as Theo Martin in Boys of the Empire’s Award-winning-show, Kids Play. This is his third consecutive year performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Clemente Lohr (Gerhard Kleeman, Hitler Youth) is an English/German actor based in London and has recently graduated from Drama Studio London. Apart from this, his training includes time at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. Most recently Clemente played Joe in Alternatively by Scott Le Crass and Herr Freder in Pains of Youth by Helen Tennison. Clemente also directs, produces and writes as part of his company “TCFC” which provides a platform for young creatives in art, music, fashion and film.
Simon Stache (Friedrich Dorf, Hitler Youth) was born in Schöneberg, Berlin. He was brought up in the German countryside. His love for acting was passed onto him from his father who played the violin in Berlin. Simon graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2016. He was nominated for his outstanding performance as Gregor Samsa in Steven Berkoff’s Metamorphosis at London’s Swan Awards in 2017. In Spring 2019 Simon appeared in BBC’s TV comedy sitcom Ghosts. He is in talks for two Netflix series later this year. Both Simon’s grandfather and grandmother were part of the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). He is excited to discover a part of his family history through The Good Scout.
Following London previews at Above the Stag Theatre on 26 and 27 July, The Good Scout runs from 2 to 24 August 2019, at theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DW, with performances (80 minutes) at 8.20pm. Tickets are priced £10-12. Click here to purchase!