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ALPHA BETA the first major London revival for more than 40 years

Alpha BetaDirected by Purni Morell. Set and Costume Design by Verity Quinn. Lighting Design by Phil Bentley. Assistant Director – Anastasia Osei-Kuffour. Presented in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

Casting to be announced early next week.

“You know… when a structure has lost its essence but retained its shape, the geologists call it: a Pseudomorph. A false shape. That’s our marriage.”

The first major revival of Ted Whitehead’s Alpha Beta since 1972, directed by Unicorn Theatre Artistic Director Purni Morell, opens at the Finborough Theatre for a five week season on Thursday, 18 June, 2015 (Press Nights: Tuesday 23, June and Wednesday, 24th June at 7.30pm)

Mr and Mrs Elliot have imprisoned themselves within a domestic incarceration of marriage, family and society’s twitching curtains. Battling through their self-made entrapment for the sake of the kids, they soon begin to destroy each other through an ugly routine of rows, affairs and suicidal blackmail.

Written with a controlled irony and an underlying compassion for its tormented characters, Ted Whitehead’s bold and unflinching play asks questions about the choices we make to fit in with social conventions – questions that are just as relevant now as they were in 1972.

Originally performed at the Royal Court and West End with Albert Finney and Rachel Roberts, this new staging directed by Purni Morell and designed by Verity Quinn, will take the Finborough Theatre back to its original use, transforming the space into a domestic living room where the brutal examination of a disintegrating marriage will take place.

I came galloping by and swept you off your feet… and then we got married and lived miserably ever after. That’s the new conclusion, that, to the old fairy tale.

Playwright Ted Whitehead was born in Liverpool in 1933. His first play, The Foursome, premiered at the Royal Court Upstairs in 1971 and transferred to the West End. Alpha Beta premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in1972, directed by Anthony Page, with Albert Finney and Rachel Roberts. It went on to be performed at London’s Apollo Theatre. His later plays include The Sea Anchor, Mecca and Old Flames, and an adaptation of The Dance of Death at the Riverside Studios starring Alan Bates. He has also written extensively for television, including adaptations of The Life and Loves of a She Devil and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Director Purni Morell is Artistic Director at the Unicorn Theatre where she has directed The Velveteen Rabbit, Dora and A Winter’s Tale. She was previously Head of the National Theatre Studio where she worked on Ajax by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Public Toilet Land by Hanna Borglund and The Leisure Society by François Archambault. Purni has worked in the literary departments of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California, and the National Theatre and spent a number of years working as an independent theatre producer in Glasgow. As translator, she has worked for Seattle Children’s Theatre, Flemish Opera and the Northern Opera Festival. She was was recently listed in ‘The Stage 100’ for 2015.

Designer Verity Quinn’s previous set and costume designs include The Fourth Wise Man, Seesaw, When I Think About the Universe I Laugh for No Reason and Dora (Unicorn Theatre), Private Peaceful and Selfie (National Youth Theatre), Under the Microscope (Arc Stockton and Live Theatre, Newcastle) and The Trial (The Retz). She has also designed for Northern Stage and The Empty Space. Verity is a co-founding member of Left Luggage Theatre, Club Adelphi and Precious Cargo.

Alpha Beta is supported by Arts Council England and fieldwork, a collective of artists based in south London who share similar values in their approach to seeking out new form and representing the rich diversity of 21st century Britain on stage.

As part of fieldwork’s commitment to the next generation of artists, there will be a number of talkback events alongside performances of Alpha Beta. These events will be targeted at emerging artists and audience members and will be an opportunity to discuss relevant production processes with the company, particularly in terms of diversity and best practice values within theatre-making.

Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652 Book online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Thursday, 18 June – Sunday, 19 July 2015

Thursday 21st May 2015


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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