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The Divided Laing or The Two Ronnies by Patrick Marmion at Arcola Theatre

Alan Cox
Alan Cox

The Divided Laing or The Two Ronnies is a provocative, freewheeling comedy by Patrick Marmion celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of radical psychiatrist R.D. Laing founding his experimental asylum at Kingsley Hall in Bromley by Bow. The play stars Alan Cox as the maverick Scottish psychiatrist and previews at the Arcola Theatre from Tuesday 17 November with the Press Night on Monday, 23 November. Further casting to be announced shortly.

In 1965 R.D. Laing and his associates at the Philadelphia Association turned Kingsley Hall in London’s East End into a pioneering residential treatment centre. A safe haven for people diagnosed with psychosis and schizophrenia, it was a controversial asylum with no locks on the doors, where treatment with antipsychotic drugs was considered taboo. Instead, Laing encouraged residents to embrace madness as an attempt at self-healing. Their most famous resident was the artist Mary Barnes whose autobiography became the basis of David Edgar’s 1979 play about Kingsley Hall. Laing himself became a darling of the swinging Sixties with admirers including The Beatles, Jim Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and most notably, Sean Connery.

Patrick Marmion’s play fast forwards to 1970. Laing’s radical ideals are in crisis. Kingsley Hall has fallen into disrepair, local residents are up in arms, and Ronnie’s South African colleague, revolutionary wild man David Cooper, is flipping out on the roof having taken an acid trip to the future. With his own personal life going down the pan and his mental state heading the same way, Ronnie decides to take his own trip to the future to save the Philadelphia Association and secure his legacy. But will this push him over the edge and can he make it back before Sean Connery comes for dinner?

Alan Cox has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Chichester Festival Theatre. He has performed in the London premieres of Longing and The Rubinstein Kiss (Hampstead), The Earthly Paradise (Almeida); his West End appearances include Strange Interlude (Duke of York’s), The Creeper (Playhouse) and The Importance of Being Earnest(Haymarket). He has appeared on Broadway in Translations (MTC) and toured the US in The Caretaker and Frost/Nixon. Film and TV work includes Mrs. Dalloway, An Awfully Big Adventure, Young Sherlock Holmes, A Voyage Around My Father and The Good Wife. He is a regular improviser with Ken Campbell’s School of Night.

Patrick Marmion is a writer, journalist and Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent. Previous plays include The Institute(Etcetera), Pieta – After Chekhov (Finborough & Print Room), Osterley (Urban Scrawl), Terms & Conditions (White Bear). Screenplays include Mushroom Soup (Sam Mendes/Renaissance Films), Kids FM (Working Title Television), Maid Marion(Chnannel Four Films), Archie Tanner & The Dodo (Children’s Film & Television Foundation) and The Dead Guy.

Michael Kingsbury’s directing credits includes Christmas (White Bear Theatre); In Lambeth (Southwark Playhouse); the critically acclaimed Ying Tong (opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse before transferring to the Ambassadors); This Other Eden (Soho Theatre); The Caretaker and Bloody Poetry which were both Council/American Express tours of Austria in association with Michael’s company London City Theatre. His production of Round The Horne…Revisited ran in the West End for sixteen months, completed three number one tours, was chosen to be part of the Royal Variety Performance and was co-nominated with Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen for the Manchester Evening News award for best touring comedy.

Listings information:
The Divided Laing, or, The Two Ronnies
Venue: The Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL
Dates: Tuesday 17th November – Saturday 12th December 2015
Press Performance: Monday 23rd November at 7.30pm
Times: Monday – Saturday, 7.30pm (Saturday matinee 3pm)
Tickets: £19/£15 concessions
Telephone 020 7503 1646

Monday 14th September 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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