JM Barrie’s rarely performed 1917 play Dear Brutus comes to Southwark Playhouse for a Christmas season in a new Troupe production directed by Jonathan O’Boyle, which has a strictly limited season from 29 November to 30 December 2017, with a press night on 4 December.
1917. In a remote English village there are rumours of an enchanted wood. One of the inhabitants – a mysterious old man – invites eight strangers to stay. They all have something in common. When, one evening, the wood miraculously appears the guests feel compelled to enter. What happens there has the power to change their lives forever…
From JM Barrie, the celebrated writer of Peter Pan, The Admirable Crichton and Quality Street, comes this haunting drama of self-revelation. Darkly comic, and presented in a sumptuous production for the play’s centenary year, Dear Brutus is Barrie at his most magical.
Dear Brutus is directed by Jonathan O’Boyle – whose 50th-anniversary revival of Hair transfers to The Vaults next month – and produced by Troupe, who return to Southwark Playhouse after their critically acclaimed production of The Cardinal. It’s designed by Anna Reid, with lighting by Peter Harrison and sound by Max Perryment.
Playwright JM Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland in 1860. He is best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and moved to London in 1885 where he began to write novels and plays. Barrie’s marriage in 1894 to the actress Mary Ansell was childless and later ended in divorce, apparently unconsummated. In 1897 he met Sylvia Llewellyn Davies and her sons, who he often entertained with fairy stories in Kensington Gardens while they strolled with their nanny. It was to them that he told his first Peter Pan stories, some of which were published in The Little White Bird (1902). When Sylvia died in 1907 Barrie assumed guardianship of the Llewellyn Davies boys. He supported them to adulthood but, tragically, George died in combat in 1915 during World War I and Michael drowned in 1921 while swimming. The play Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up was first produced in December 1904 at the Duke of York’s Theatre. It triumphed, transferred to Broadway the following year, and has received frequent revivals and adaptations in a variety of media ever since. Many of Barrie’s other great plays have been eclipsed by its huge success – Quality Street (1901), The Admirable Crichton (1902), What Every Woman Knows (1908), and Dear Brutus (1917) – are of indisputably high quality and remain ripe for revival. Barrie was created a baronet in 1913 and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1922. He became president of the Society of Authors in 1928 and chancellor of the University of Edinburgh in 1930. He died in London in 1937.
Director Jonathan O’Boyle’s work includes Pippin (Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester), Hair (Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester and The Vaults Theatre), Four Play for which he was nominated for an Off West End Award for Best Director, Sense of an Ending and Water Under the Board (Theatre503), The Surplus and All the Ways to Say Goodbye (The Young Vic), The Verb, To Love and Made in Britain (Old Red Lion Theatre), Bash: Latterday Plays (Old Red Lion Theatre and Trafalgar Studios) and King Lear and Broken Glass (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama). Work as Associate Director includes This House (Chichester Festival Theatre and Garrick Theatre), The Judas Kiss (Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York and Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto), Mack and Mabel and Amadeus (Chichester Festival Theatre), Bull (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, The Young Vic and 59E59 Theaters, New York), This is My Family (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield and National Tour), The Scottsboro Boys (The Young Vic), My Fair Lady and The Village Bike (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield) and Manon (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). He is currently Resident Director for An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre. He was previously Trainee Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre and Associate Director at Theatre503.