In the four-part TV series, which concludes with opening night footage on tomorrow (Saturday 24 June 2006), producer Sonia Friedman – with the help of literary agent Mel Kenyon and actor Neil Pearson – were set the challenge of finding a never-before-produced writer and preparing their debut play for a professional commercial run. Over 2,000 aspiring playwrights entered the competition. Maxine Peake, Paul Hilton and Tom McKay star in the resulting stage production, which is directed by Robert Delamere after the original director Steven Pimlott fell ill (See News, 25 May 2006).
Many overnight critics admired the effort the producers, actors, directors and budding playwrights went to in bringing new work into the West End – which they said was a worthwhile experiment – but few were overly impressed by the winning play, which they felt was too muddled, ambiguous, slow and confusing to cut it in the commercial West End. While Betts has talent, ruled the critics, it has not yet flourished with this debut.
- by Caroline Ansdell