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New comedic play The Comeback to open in the West End in December

The play comes courtesy of hit duo The Pin

Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen
(© Oliver Rosser, Feast Creative)

A brand new comedy, The Comeback, will open in the West End in December.

Penned and starring award-winning comedy duo The Pin (their real names Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen), the show will run at the Noël Coward Theatre from 8 December to 3 January. Tickets are on sale now, with over 1000 tickets available at £25 or under each week.

The Comeback, directed by Emily Burns and produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, follows two rival comedy duos having a backstage tussle, with a special guest star joining the production every night.

All seats in the venue will be adjusted to ensure social distancing, with rows in the stalls being removed to allow a 1m gap between all bubbles. All measures have been signed off by authorities, industry bodies and in keeping with the major "See It Safely" campaign.

Speaking to WhatsOnStage earlier this week, Ashenden and Owen said: "We've done one-off gigs in venues of a similar size (like the Old Vic's birthday celebrations) but we've never done a month-long run in the West End. That's what's keeping us up at night: not fearing not doing it but more the excitement. We just hope the microphone system is working..."

Friedman said: "I am absolutely thrilled to be announcing The Comeback as SFP's return to the West End. I was excited about The Pin's debut play long before lockdown, but after the year we've had, it feels like the perfect tonic. More than ever, we need the laughter and emotional connection of communal experience – and frankly, nothing provides that like live theatre. The Comeback delivers all that and much more."

"Make no mistake, though: theatre is not back in business. Having shuttered 18 productions worldwide seven months ago, all of which remain suspended, I cannot fully – let alone profitably – re-open my shows. As well as government go-ahead (even just a date), we're still waiting for an insurance scheme to protect our profession in the months ahead. Producing shows this Christmas is a tightrope act, but The Comeback will go ahead – following approved Performing Arts working guidelines  - and so long as government restrictions allow."

She added: "This genius comedy shows just how precious live performance is and, as British theatre begins to build itself back up, becoming a frontline of the national recovery, The Comeback couldn't be more timely. Theatre isn't just for Christmas. This is just the start."

The Comeback has set and costume design by Rosanna Vize, with lighting by Prema Mehta and sound and music by Giles Thomas.

Discusssing the pandemic more widely, Ashenden said: "We're soon going to feel the after-effects of how bad this is for our industry – in terms of people having the financial or psychological confidence to muck about for seven or eight years above pubs and work out what they want to do."

Owen added: "The greatest sorrow I feel at the moment are those in training or just finishing training who haven't had a chance to make a foothold in the business. In those early days, things like the Fringe and small venues – now under the most pressure to survive – are the ecosystem. I fear for that ecosystem."

Ashenden went on: "The first people I donated to when the pandemic started were the Pleasance in Islington. They let us do a trial show when we were 20, and after that show they took us up to the Fringe and produced us. That night was as important as the night Sonia Friedman told us she wanted to take us to the West End.

"If you don't have that first night over a pub, you don't have your first night in the West End. I know that both us and Sonia want to prove that we can keep theatres open in certain ways and make sure audiences get more confident about coming back.

"But we also need to support and invest in spaces like the Pleasance – so that artists can know that they have a place to start out, rather than, you know, deciding to go and work in cyber."

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