Following the recent announcement that Anthony Biggs will be standing down from his role as Artistic Director this summer, London’s Jermyn Street Theatre announces his final season, running from April to July 2017
Reflecting the range of theatre and the mix of new work and rediscoveries that have characterised Biggs’ programming at the theatre since he started in 2013, the apring/summer season 2017 comprises a debut work by a respected theatre director, the UK premiere of a work by one of the giants of 20th century Russian literature and the London premiere of a knockabout comedy that looks back to a more innocent time of Anglo/American relations. Each production, although very different in style and content, takes as its setting one of the monumental events that shaped the twentieth century.
The season opens with director Stephen Unwin’s All Our Children. Directed by Unwin himself, his gripping new play probes one of the darkest episodes in recent history. Germany 1941 – a terrible crime is taking place in a clinic for disabled children. The perpetrators argue that it will help struggling parents and lift the financial burden on the mighty German state. The elegant debut work shows a world caught in a spiral of horror and examines a brutal system, which sanctioned mass murder for those who led what the Nazis called ‘lives unworthy of life’.
All Our Children is an astonishing and chilling story of courage, betrayal and humanity that relate a rich dramatic narrative exploring cultural, moral and social arguments, which still rage today. The production runs from 26 April to 3 June, with a press night on 2 May 2017.
From 7 June to 1 July 2017, it’s Biggs’ farewell production: the UK premiere of Maxim Gorky’s The Last Ones translated by Cathy Porter. Set in 1908, all of Russia is in chaos. Following the euphoria of the October Revolution, a tough crackdown by the government on liberals and dissidents has caused a rise in extremism, with a wave of assassinations, terrorism and open revolt. In a small town near Kazan a corrupt ex-police chief, fallen on hard times through womanising and gambling, has been forced to rely on the goodwill of his wealthier but ailing brother. As the family fritter away the last of the brother’s fortune on bribes an attempt to restore them to power, there are rumblings of discontent amongst the youngest children, the last ones. With their future so uncertain, why must they be left to pay for the sins of their parents?
The Last Ones is a strikingly relevant and vivid portrayal of a family and a country in the grip of revolution, from one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Biggs’ final season concludes with the London premiere of the funny and tender portrait on wartime Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, running from 3 to 29 July 2017.
It’s 1942 and a horde of Yankee servicemen have just arrived in England – where the locals speak a strange dialect, boil all their food, and talk endlessly about the weather. The Americans see the Brits as a strange race. Get ready to judge for you in a night of joyous laughter and downright silliness as a crack-team of experts attempt to explain the rules of British life. Created by Dan March, Jim Millard, Matt Sheahan and John Walton and Inspired by the 1942 pamphlet given to GIs on their way to Blighty, the show will take the audience back to the British home front, where two American officers have been charged with explaining British life to their recently arrived countrymen. The problem is, they’ve only just arrived themselves! Will the plucky team succeed in explaining the quirks and customs of everyday British life? Or will Hitler’s propaganda split the allies asunder? The future of the free world hangs in the balance.
Anthony Biggs commented:
“I’m thrilled to announce this new season of plays, which is my last as Artistic Director, which tackle some of the most challenging issues society now faces – care for the most vulnerable, the economic future for young people, and our notion of what it means to be British.”
Biggs’ final season is preceded by Grace Wessel’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s The Frogs, running from 14 March to 8 April 2017. Tom Littler takes over as Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre in September 2017.