RSC to Join Forces with English Touring Theatre on A Mad World My Masters, Including London Run at Barbican Theatre

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29 May 2014

The Royal Shakespeare Company will join forces with English Touring Theatre for the first time to launch a U.K. tour of its 2013 Stratford-upon-Avon production of A Mad World My Masters, a play that has been characterized as Thomas Middleton's Jacobean "city comedy."



The tour will begin performances at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre Feb. 26, 2015, then continue to Blackpool, Brighton, Malvern, Truro, Darlington and Cambridge before coming to London's Barbican Theatre for a two-week run beginning April 27, 2015.

Directed by Sean Foley, this version of the play is edited by Foley and Phil Porter, remaining faithful to the original text but adapting it to fit the seedy world of 1950s Soho, updating character names and including songs of the time to enhance the biting satire of lust and deception in the life of Bohemian London. Designs are by Alice Power and sound and music by Ben and Max Ringham.

It is set in London's Soho in 1956, "where glamour rubs up against filth, and likes it; where the posh mix with musicians, whores and racketeers; where 'virginity is no city trade', and where a dashingly impecunious bachelor in need of quick cash and a good time has to live on his wits. Turning con-man to fool his rich uncle, he variously becomes a lord, a high class call girl, and – God forbid – a poor actor. But a beautiful Soho tart is also on the scam: a whore to some, a religious instructor to others, and a debutante in need of an eligible bachelor to yet more."

In a press statement, Foley commented, "After working on A Mad World My Masters at the RSC studio, and then in production at The Swan, we came to one simple conclusion: though pretty unknown, this is one of the most hilariously wicked plays ever written. If new, it might be hailed as the bastard offspring of Richard Sheridan and Joe Orton. Love and Fortune are it's themes, but we're never left in any doubt that what we're really talking about is Sex and Money - and how if you have the one, you can use it to get the other... It is an anarchic, extremely funny satirical comedy that manages to be both outrageous but sweetly daft."

RSC artistic director Gregory Doran also commented, "It is great news that after its successful run last year in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon we have the chance to share Sean Foley's wonderfully fresh production of A Mad World My Masters with audiences around the country, thanks to a new collaboration with English Touring Theatre. We are always keen to share work from Stratford- upon- Avon with as many people as possible - as our current live screenings to cinemas prove. English Touring Theatre are masters in taking shows, large and small, around the UK, and this production will be expanded from its original format but will retain the incredible skill and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of RSC work. I hope it enjoys a fantastic journey around the country."

For further details on the original production, visit http://www.rsc.org.uk/explore/other-writers/a-mad-world-my-masters.aspx.