Following the critical success of last year’s A Government Inspector, Northern Broadsides’ associate director Conrad Nelson and playwright Deborah McAndrew once again team up for The Grand Gesture, which you can catch at the Playhouse this week.
Based on Nikolai Erdman’s rarely-performed comic classic The Suicide, the play is described as “a pitch-black, break-neck farce of a man living on the edge”. It opens on Tuesday (November 12) and runs until Saturday (November 16).
Simeon Duff is desperate. After a failed last-ditch attempt to solve his problems by learning to play the tuba, he finally decides there’s only one way out: suicide. As word spreads of Simeon’s intentions, the whole community wants in on the act. The death of Duff need not be in vain, with every cause in town – whether it be for politics, religion, or the rising price of fish – wanting to claim it as their own. With the clock ticking, and martyrdom up for grabs, a farce like no other plays out before the final curtain.
Set within the North’s Anglo-Irish community, and told with a musical blend of Irish folk and heavenly choir, this biting social satire looks at life as commodity, death as PR, and sacrifice as deed up for sale.
This is the latest classic foreign comedy playwright Deborah McAndrew has transferred to a contemporary British setting, following Accidental Death of an Anarchist and A Government Inspector. The former Coronation Street actress also saw her work Beyond the Veil recently performed by Mikron Theatre Company at the Liverpool Actor’s Studio in September.
Speaking about The Grand Gesture, she said: “It seems like a very macabre subject, and the comedy is very black at times, but ultimately it affirms both the dignity and worth of every human life, and the collective responsibility we have for each other.
Michael Hugo (Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Northern Broadsides) leads the ensemble cast as Simeon Duff, with local actress Samantha Robinson as his wife Mary. Samantha has appeared regularly at the Everyman and Playhouse, including 2008’s Proper Clever, 2009’s Three Sisters on Hope Street, and most recently in 2011’s Dead Heavy Fantastic.
For more information, visit the Playhouse’s website.
Picture by Nobby Clarke