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Chris Simmons and Tanya Franks cast in UK Premiere of TELESCOPE

BUTA FestivalImmersive play written by Elchin, to be directed by Matthew Gould as part of Buta Festival 2015

• Cast announced for Telescope, an immersive play by Elchin at Testbed1
• TV stars Chris Simmons and Tanya Franks head an 11-strong cast
• The production is being staged as part of the Buta Festival 2015 and will play at Testbed1, Battersea, 25th February to 7th March 2015

Chris Simmons
Chris Simmons

Telescope will receive its first performance in English in an immersive production, directed by Matthew Gould later this month. Performed at Testbed1’s evocative performance space in Battersea, the former Victorian dairy will play host to this unique Azerbaijani play for a strictly limited run. Already performed in other languages around the world, this UK production will be lead by esteemed British actors Chris Simmons and Tanya Franks.

Chris Simmons, who played DC Mickey Webb in The Bill, has been cast in the role of ‘Man’. Chris, who is known for his lead roles in Casualty and Doctors, also played Mark Garland in EastEnders.

Playing opposite Chris in the role of ‘Woman’, Tanya Franks has held lead roles in Broadchurch, Pulling, The Bill and is known for her character, Rainie Cross, in EastEnders.

The full cast is Chris Simmons, Tanya Franks, Joe Eyre, Sergio Covino, Anna Darvas, Paul Brennan, Rachel Esposti, Amanda Reed, Elliott Bornemann, Felicity Jolly and Hannah Genesius.

Elchin’s bittersweet satire introduces us to a man hovering halfway to heaven after dying. He finds himself at a Way Station to Heaven, administered by angel bureaucrats and filled with other souls patiently awaiting their ultimate journey onwards. Guided through the system by the soul of an old flame, the man gets an unusual perspective of the family and friends he left behind on Earth, giving him a bird’s eye view of what they really think of him – and in the process he discovers more than a few truths about himself.

One of Azerbaijan’s best-known playwrights, Elchin writes fascinating multi-leveled observations on the paradoxical effects of modernity on us all. His familiar human characters encapsulate the spirit of contemporary Azerbaijan, often referencing the overlap with life in Soviet times and even more fantastical settings. Telescope reveals all the hallmarks of Elchin’s accurate, yet gentle, satirical style.

Tanya Franks
Tanya Franks

The play is being staged as part of Buta’s varied schedule that is celebrating Azerbaijani arts and culture. The 2015 Buta Festival provides a window to the Azeri Arts in London, offering unique insights into a country that is arousing our curiosity.

Playwright and novelist Elchin was born into a literary family in Baku in 1943 and is today regarded as one of Azerbaijan’s most eminent contemporary writers. His first novel appeared in 1959, when he was just 16, and he has had almost 100 books translated into more than 20 languages, covering everything from Azerbaijani folklore and eastern classical literature to the classic dramas of Shakespeare and Moliere.

Matthew has been directing for a number of years having been an actor for 20 years. His directorial work includes plays, musicals, opera and more recently pilots for film and TV. He recently directed a successful run of Elchin’s play My Favourite Madman and this year will see him direct a new musical about Woody Allen, the premiere of a new play The Glass Protégé at The Park Theatre, London. Other 2015 projects for Matthew include directing a new play called The Gambit about Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, which will premiere at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, before coming to London for a run.

Neither Europe nor Asia, Azerbaijan is a country of diversity, rich culture and contrasts. The historic mix of ancient empires and the emerging contemporary nation are producing a fascinating cultural scene. The up and coming, cosmopolitan capital, Baku is surrounded by semi-desert on the oil-rich Caspian Sea. Unesco-listed ancient monuments sit together with new skyscrapers; traditional crafts and music meet contemporary art installations and cutting edge design. Other events running as part of Buta 2015 are Farkhad Khalilov’s Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery from 11 – 23 March and Farooq Chaudry’s production of the 1001 Nights Ballet, at Sadler’s Wells on 17 March.

Telescope posterALOFF THEATRE
Aloff Theatre is a London-based theatre company dedicated to identifying, translating and organising the production of Eastern European and Central Asian texts for the benefit of the UK and International audiences. The company’s aim is to create diverse, innovative and vibrant productions that have rarely been presented to English audiences, and act as a focus for intercultural exchange.

Aloff Theatre presents the world premiere of
Written by Elchin
Directed by
Matthew Gould
Casting by Benjamin Newsome
Lighting Design by Joshua Sung
Set Design by Faye Bradley
Costume Design by Jean Gray
Produced by Sanan Aliyev for Aloff Theatre
Wed 25 Feb – Sat 07 Mar 2015 – Tuesday – Saturday 7:30pm. No Monday/Sunday performance

Wed 25 Feb – Sat 07 Mar 2015 – Tuesday – Saturday 7:30pm. No Monday/Sunday performances
Tickets: £15 or £12 Concessions
Bookings: http://telescope.bpt.me/
Venue: TESTBED1, 33 Parkgate Road, London, SW11 4NP. T: 020 7223 7115, W: testbed1.com
Running Time: 90 mins, no interval
Twitter: @alofftheatre


  • 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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