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TONY’S LAST TAPE based on diaries of TONY BENN London transfer

Tony's Last Tape
Original Production – Philip Bretherton. Photo: Robert Day

Based on the notable political diaries of Tony Benn, one of Britain’s most respected, celebrated and controversial politicians, Tony’s Last Tape, by Andy Barrett, studies the struggle of a man who realises that maybe it is time to withdraw from the fight, to let others take over, but just doesn’t quite know how.

For more than 50 years, Tony Benn has recorded everything that happened to and around him, and as the years passed so the burden of this documentation has grown. Today he has decided to make his last tape…

Tony’s Last Tape, starring Philip Bretherton as Tony Benn, was a sold-out acclaimed success when it premiered at Nottingham Playhouse last month, directed by the venue’s Artistic Director, Giles Croft.

It is now getting a swift London transfer to South London’s newest fringe theatre Bridge House Theatre SE20, where it will run from Monday 27 April – Sunday 17 May

Press night is Tuesday 5 May at 7.45pm
Designed by Rachel Jacks, Sound and Lighting Designer Martin Curtis.
Produced by Bridge House Production SE20 Ltd & Climar Productions in association with Nottingham Playhouse.

Giles Croft said: “Tony’s Last Tape sold out very quickly in Nottingham, which shows the affection that continues to exist for Tony Benn. Once it opened the clamour for tickets increased because Andy’s play is funny, touching and passionate and is brilliantly performed by Philip Bretherton. We hoped that the play would have a long life, but we couldn’t have imagined a better opportunity than presenting it at Bridge House Theatre over the period of the General Election. It’s a testament to the imaginative programming of this exciting new(ish) venue.”

Rob Harris, Lead Producer at the Bridge House Theatre said “Our Artistic Director, Guy Retallack and I are immensely proud, as London’s most exciting new Fringe Venue, to have secured the London Premiere of Tony’s Last Tape by Andy Barrett, coming direct from a sell-out run at Nottingham Playhouse. Directed by the Playhouse’s Artistic Director, Giles Croft (formerly literary manager of the National Theatre) Tony’s Last Tape illustrates the quality of the work we wish to be known for at the Bridge House. The show excels in all areas from the writing, to the direction and has a charismatic performance from Philip Bretherton, who plays one of the most influential and characterful politicians of our times.

Philip Bretherton (Tony Benn)
Theatre credits include: Educating Rita (Liberty Theatre); Hayfever (West Yorkshire Playhouse); League of Youth; Breaking the Silence (Nottingham Playhouse); Life After Scandal (Hampstead
Theatre); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf; Six Degrees of Separation (Royal Exchange Theatre,
Manchester); Skylight (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Seasons Greetings (Liverpool Playhouse). Television credits include: Young Dracula; Doctors; Silk; Doctors; Swallow; Hearts & Bones; Casualty; Holding On; Degrees of Error; Miss Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel; Real Women; As Time Goes By; Coronation Street; Sherlock Holmes; The Bill; Wing and A Prayer; The Paradise Club; Inspector Morse; The Syndicate; Midsomer Murders; Murder in Suburbia; New Tricks; Footballer’s Wives; Rocket to the Moon; Family Affairs; Hollyoaks; Sharman. Film credits include: The Fifth Estate; Dark Floors; Cry Freedom. Radio credits include: As Time Goes By; The Jury (BBC Radio 4).

Andy Barrett (Writer).
Andy’s long-standing relationship with Nottingham Playhouse began with Tales From The Robin Hood Line,a series of six solo shows examining the demise of old identities in the ex-mining areas of
Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. His first main stage play,The Day That Kevin Came, came out of this work and was followed by Garage Band, a play about punk, The League of Youth, the first UK version of an early Ibsen play (published by Nick Hern Books), and a national tour last year of The Second Minute, based on letters sent to and from men of the Sherwood Foresters. Other work includes Dolly, for New Perspectives, which The Times selected as one of their Top 5 Shows of 2010. His work for BBC Radio Four includes The Perfect Wood starring Geoffrey Palmer and Stephanie Cole and an adaptation of Robinson Crusoe and His Farther Adventures. His BBC Radio Nottingham series Lily’s Years was the winner of a Sony Award.

Giles Croft (Director)
In 1985 Giles was appointed as Artistic Director of the Gate Theatre, London. In 1989 Giles joined the National Theatre as Literary Manager before becoming Artistic Director of the Palace Theatre,
Watford in May 1995. Giles became Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse in 1999. His most
recent productions include: Arcadia, The Second Minute, Charlie Peace: His Amazing Life And
Astounding Legend, The Kite Runner and Of Mice and Men. Giles is also a playwright and his work has been produced widely in the UK and Europe.

Anthony Neil Wedgwood “Tony” Benn (3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014) was a a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for 47 years between 1950 and 2001 and a Cabinet minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1960s and 1970s. Benn inherited a hereditary peerage on his father’s death (as 2nd Viscount Stansgate), preventing him continuing as an MP. He fought to remain in the House of Commons, and then campaigned for the ability to renounce the title, a campaign which succeeded with the Peerage Act 1963. In the Labour Government of 1964–70 he served first as Postmaster General, where he oversaw the opening of the Post Office Tower, and later as a “technocratic” Minister of Technology. In 1971–72, when the Labour Party was in Opposition, he was Chairman of the Labour Party. In the Labour Government of 1974–1979, he returned to the Cabinet, initially as Secretary of State for Industry, before being made Secretary of State for Energy, retaining his post when James Callaghan replaced Wilson as Prime Minister. When the Labour Party was in Opposition in the 1980s, he was a prominent figure on its left wing and the term “Bennite” came to be used for someone with radical left-wing politics. Benn was described as “one of the few UK politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office.” After leaving Parliament, Benn was President of the Stop the War Coalition from 2001 until his death.

Nottingham Playhouse has been one of the United Kingdom’s leading producing theatres since its foundation in 1948. It welcomes over 110,000 customers through its doors each year and creates productions large and small from timeless classics and enthralling family shows to adventurous new commissions, often touring work nationally and internationally. 2013 marked Nottingham Playhouse’s 50th anniversary in its current home. During those 50 years the Playhouse stage has played host to many outstanding performers and helped create a generation of dedicated theatre goers. Recent notable productions include 1984, The Kite Runner and The Threepenny Opera.

Tony’s Last Tape
Monday 27 April – Sunday 17 May
Press night Tuesday 5 May at 7.45pm
Monday – Sunday at 7.45pm
no performances Thursdays
Matinees Saturday and Sundays at 4.00pm
Tickets £12.00 – £15.00

Bridge House Theatre
2 High Street Penge
London, SE20 8RZ


  • 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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