Six wannabe comedians attend an evening class at a school in Manchester in preparation for a performance in front of London agent. Faded music hall star acts Eddie Waters acts as their tutor, in an age when comedians wore dicky bows and political correctness was decades away.
The premiere production, seen in London at the National Theatre, starred Jimmy Jewel as Eddie and Jonathan Pryce as aspirant Gethin Price. Pryce later reprised his role in the show’s Broadway transfer. There hasn’t been a major London production of Comedians in nearly 20 years, though Holmes did revive in a 2001 tour that starred Ron Moody as Eddie and David Tennant as Gethin.
As previously announced, Holmes’ new staging is led by Matthew Kelly as Eddie with David Dawson as Gethin and Mark Benton as Ged Murray. Keith Allen, whose most recent stage appearance was last Christmas in Holmes’ West End production of Treasure Island, is Bert Challoner, with Kulvinder Ghir (Goodness Gracious Me on TV, Midnight’s Children, Small Miracles on stage) as Mr Patel and Reece Shearsmith (The Producers, As You Like It on stage) as Phil Murray.
Also in the cast are Billy Carter (as George McBrain), Michael Dylan (Mick Connor), Simon Kunz (Sammy Samuels) and Paul Rider (Caretaker/Concert Secretary). The production is designed by Anthony Lamble, with lighting by Simon Bennison and sound by Nick Manning.
In other recent play casting news: