Bolam Directs Sick Dictators Comedy at JermynDate: 5 July 2001
James Bolam is to direct a new black comedy by the controversial writer Roy Smiles at London's Jermyn Street Theatre. The play, entitled Sick Dictators, opens on 31 July and runs through to 25 August.
Smiles' work concerns one General Ricochet, a dictator who is confined to a hospital bed under the watchful eyes of the police. Both inside and outside the hospital, the deposed dictator faces numerous threats from assorted window cleaners, doctors, nurses and CIA agents. Smiles is the current Resident Writer for Jermyn Street Theatre, having had previous writing attachments at the National Theatre Studio and the Croydon Warehouse. In 1994, his Maxwell the Musical work (based on the media tycoon Robert Maxwell) was banned by the Attorney General, because criminal charges were pending against the late Maxwell's sons.
James Bolam was born in Sunderland in 1938. One of the most recognisable faces on British television, his theatre career highlights include The White Liars/Black Comedy with Ian McKellen at the Lyric and Beckett's The Endgame with impressionist Alistair McGowan. Bolam rose to popular fame, however, via the TV comedy series The Likely Lads, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? and Only When I Laugh (with Peter Bowles and Richard Wilson). Another major starring role came with the BBC's acclaimed drama When the Boat Comes In, in which Bolam returned to his north-eastern roots alongside his wife Susan Jameson. His film credits include The End of the Affair and Stella Does Tricks.
Bolam will direct a company which includes Nigel Anthony, as General Ricochet, Fiona Dolman and Nicolas Colicos. Anthony has performed with the RSC and recently appeared in Radio 4's dramatisation of Nicholas Nickleby. Dolman is known for her numerous TV roles, including Jackie Bradley in Heartbeat. Colicos has worked both on stage and screen, but is perhaps best known for his roles in such West End musicals as Mamma Mia!, Whistle Down the Wind and Sunset Boulevard.
The Jermyn Street Theatre was once the changing rooms for the staff of the upstairs spaghetti restaurant. In 1991, Howard Jameson helped transform the space into a luxury studio theatre with private donations, and the venue received an Arts Council grant in 1997. The theatre is run by the trustees who are all volunteers.
- by Gareth Thompson