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James Woolley replaces Peter Bowles in STOP!… The Play

James WoolleyProducers have announced that actor Peter Bowles has left the cast of the world premiere production of Stop!… The Play.

Bowles, 78, a stage veteran whose credits include Sleuth, Hedda Gabler, The Entertainer and, for the Peter Hall repertory company, Separate Tables, School for Wives and Major Barbara, left the production as rehearsals were about to begin… leaving the producers with a race against time to replace him.

James Woolley has now stepped in to take his role in Stop!… The Play, a madcap, theatrical comedy by David Spicer, in which the worst night in the theatre becomes the most hilarious play in town.

It will still open as planned in the West End with a cast headed by Adam Riches (2011 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner) at Trafalgar Studio 2 for a 4-week season from Tuesday 2nd June to Saturday 27th June.

Producer Timothy Beckmann, a former Reduced Shakespeare Company member, said: “It has been a bit of a nightmare… but just the sort of calamitous event that occurs in each scene of our play! Mr Bowles had a last-minute change of heart and we have to respect his decision.”

We are thrilled that another veteran of stage and screen, James Woolley, was available and stepped in at such short notice to save the day. Rehearsals are now going great guns.

Act 1 of Stop!…The Play is set in a rehearsal room as five neurotic actors, one inexperienced director and an overworked stage manager, battle with the task of mounting what is surely the world’s most terrible play. Act 2 is the hysterically chaotic first night. The production starts out as a worthy (if slightly dull) English kitchen sink drama, The Dark Heart of Art, about a struggling artist. But then daily rewrites start arriving from the persistently absent writer. Characters are cut, new characters are introduced… everything changes from day to day. The cast battles to keep up. But instead of making the play better, the rewrites make it worse, and crazier. The Dark Heart of Art becomes a shockingly sexual pseudo-psycho drama called Banksy Ain’t Gay – a masterclass in appalling modern playwriting. (Anyone who has ever sat through anything which describes itself as ‘edgy’, ‘experimental’, ‘controversial’ or ‘shocking’ will recognise it with a shudder). Laughs come thick and fast as the worst night in the theatre becomesthe most hilarious play in town.

The cast features Adam Riches as The Leading Man, James Woolley (The Borgias) as The Seasoned Veteran, Tosin Cole (Hollyoaks) as The Hollywood Cameo, Hatty Preston (The Royals) as The Leading Lady, Hannah Stokely (Skyfall) as The Perennial Co-star, Charlie Cameron (National Theatre Macbeth) as The Stage Manager and Ben Starr (Survivor) as The Director.

David Spicer has written stand-up and TV material for comedians including Jasper Carrott, Armstrong & Miller and Michael Barrymore. His extensive radio writing includes the acclaimed sitcom Double Income No Kids Yet with David Tennant and Kind Hearts & Coronets with Alistair McGowan. His first stage play, God Save the Mad Parade, is out on national tour early next year.

Director John Schwab. Producer Tim Beckmann for Hatch It. Casting Director Kate Plantin CDG.

The show will preview in The Studio at Fairfield Halls, Croydon Tuesday 26 May – Saturday 30 May 2015 at 7.30pm Box Office: 0208 688 9291 www.fairfield.co.uk

STOP!… The Play
Trafalgar Studios 2
4 Whitehall

Tuesday 2 June – Saturday 27 June
Press night: Wednesday 3 June at 7.45pm
Monday – Saturday at 7.45pm
Thursday and Saturday at 3.00pm
Tickets £15 – £25.00

Tuesday 12th 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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