Theatre News

Finborough Theatre 2020 anniversary spring season announced

The Off-West End venue will celebrate its 40th birthday next year

The Finborough Theatre
The Finborough Theatre
© Douglas Mackie

Finborough Theatre announced its spring 2020 programme as part of the 40th anniversary year, with shows by a Northern Ireland writer, an award-winning 1980 play, a Canadian comedic drama and a pioneering female playwright.

The season opens with the English premiere of Joseph Crilly's On McQuillan's Hill, a black comedy that plays from 4 to 29 February. The story centres around Fra Maline, an IRA soldier released from prison who comes home to a welcome celebration thrown by his daughter. The play is set during the Good Friday Agreement and examines the sectarian violence that surrounded the controversial event. Jonathan Harden directs, with a full cast and creative team to be announced.

Paul Kember's award-winning comedy drama Not Quite Jerusalem will play from 3 to 28 March, after it first premiered in 1980 – the same year that the Finborough Theatre opened. The Evening Standard Award-winning show takes place in 1979, where Mike, Carrie, Pete and Dave have fled England for an Israeli kibbutz dreaming of a relaxing break and instead being forced to work in 100-degree heat. Peter Kavanagh directs, with a full cast and creative team to be announced.

The European premiere of Michael Melski's Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad will play from 31 March to 25 April after its success in Canada, where it was nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award – the equivalent of the UK's Olivier Awards. The play tells of Teddy and Donner, two working-class single parents who meet at their children's minor league ice-hockey match. Jimmy Walters directs, with a full cast and creative team to be announced.

Women Without Men ends the season, a play by Irish female playwright Hazel Ellis which first played at the Gate Theatre, Dublin in 1938. The show will run from 28 April to 23 May and tells of enthusiastic young teacher Jean Wade at Malyn Park Private School as she encounters conflict with the existing staff. Laura Jayne Bateman directs, with a full cast and creative team to be announced.

Two major playwriting competitions also return to the Finborough Theatre in 2020. The RADIUS Playwriting Competition opens for entries on 3 February and closes on 30 March, with a prize of £500 and a staged reading at the Finborough Theatre in June 2020. The ETPEP Award 2020 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, with entries now open and closing on 31 March. The prize is £8000, a staged reading in September and ongoing dramaturgy and support from the venue.

The venue is known for staging new writing and rediscovered works that are rarely performed elsewhere. Artistic director Neil McPherson says: "The first season of our 40th anniversary year features our usual inspiring and eclectic selection of world drama with plays from Northern Ireland, England, Canada and Ireland. As always, our programme is focused on vibrant new writing and unique rediscoveries, and continues our commitment to never presenting work that has been seen anywhere in London during the last 25 years. In celebration of our 40th anniversary year, we have also undergone a major rebrand with a new logo, new designs for all our publicity, and – coming shortly – a brand new website. We would like to thank Bill Kenwright for his very generous donation to the Finborough Theatre. His support has made this year's work possible."