Political adviser and author Michael McManus makes his playwriting debut with An Honourable Man, the story of how Momentum’s attempt to deselect a mainstream Labour MP unleashes a populist uprising. The up-to-the-minute play, that has Westminster commentators buzzing, gets its world premiere this month at London’s White Bear Theatre.
Following a try-out workshop presentation in June, An Honourable Man, written by Michael McManus and directed by Jolley Gosnold, returns to the White Bear for a full-scale production, running for three weeks from 20 November to 8 December 2018, with a post-show Q&A chaired by MyTheatreMates’ co-founder Terri Paddock on 21 November and a press night on 23 November.
“Brexit? Never mind Brexit. What if the Brexit vote, UKIP, even the BNP and the EDL – what if all that was just the beginning?”
Joe Newman is the mainstream Labour MP for a traditional, working-class constituency in the North of England – until Momentum try to oust him. Unwittingly, they unleash a tide that could destroy not only Labour and the Conservatives – but also every assumption anyone has ever made about what is acceptable in the mainstream of British politics.
The playtext (published by Playdead Press) has been revised and updated to keep pace with current events and the fast-changing political landscape and after feedback from an acclaimed sold-out workshop in June.
The premiere production stars Timothy Harker as Joe Newman, alongside Lisa Bowerman (as Anne), Max Keeble (Sam), Thomas Mahy (Josh), Dee Sadler (Liz) and Annie Tyson (Maggie), all reprising their roles from the summer showcase.
Michael McManus is an author, political adviser and journalist. His most recent book, Edward Heath: A Singular Life (Elliott & Thompson, 2016), was widely praised and featured as Book of the Week in the Daily Mail. His other books include biographies of the one-time Liberal leader Jo Grimond and the actor Nicholas Courtney; and a history of the Conservative Party and LGBT rights. He is also co-writer of Tainted, the new musical featuring the songs of Marc Almond and Soft Cell.
Commenting on An Honourable Man, McManus said:
“When I first drafted this play in 2015, it seemed far-fetched to many people. Labour MPs being deselected in the near future? The rise of populism? Cult of personality? Here? In Britain? Now my actors, my director and I are all running hard, just to keep ahead of reality; and we can be confident life will go on imitating art, even during our three-week run. I just hope my old friend Frank Field doesn’t do anything too dramatic!”
An Honourable Man is designed by Mike Lees, with AV by Steve Broster and lighting by Ed Thomas. It’s presented by Honourable Man Productions in association with the White Bear Theatre.
McManus added about his creative team: “I am delighted to be working with Jolley and Claude, Steve and Mike again. They will bring a perfect blend of youthful energy and experience to this full run, as they did to the try-out in June. We would not have got this far without them and I am confident that, together, we can take this play even further.”
Praise from political pundits
The week-long summer workshop run of An Honourable Man was attended by a host of Parliamentarians, political journalists and writers. Here’s what some of them said.
- “A riveting evening” – Polly Toynbee, author and Guardian journalist
- “So much fun… what chaos we’re in and it captures that
chaos wonderfully” – Lord Michael Dobbs, author of House of Cards
- “I think this should be done at all the political party conferences and it should have sensational success, as it deserves” – Julian Mitchell, Another Country playwright
- “I got completely caught up in it and, by the end, I’m thinking, I could see this on in the West End” – Matthew Parris, Times columnist and former Tory MP
An Honourable Man runs from 20 November to 8 December 2018 at the White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Road, London SE11. Performances are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Sunday matinees at 4pm. Tickets are priced £18 (concessions £12). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!