Flowering Cherry

by Robert Bolt

17 November – 20 December 2015

“Fifteen acres of apple trees in blossom, with a few white hens on the grass, perhaps, and some high white clouds in a blue sky...it’s a sight for the gods, it’s Shangri-la.”

The first London production in over fifty years

The first London production in over fifty years of Robert Bolt’s first West End play, Flowering Cherry.

Suburbia, 1957. Jim Cherry sells insurance, but wants to sell apples instead. He dreams of owning an orchard in Somerset and quitting the job he hates. But Cherry is a fantasist and his wife Isobel is at breaking point. As his dream begins to spiral out of control and the gulf between them widens, can she force him to face reality?

Hailed at its premiere as the British Death of a Salesman, and from the writer of A Man for All Seasons and the screenplays of Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, Flowering Cherry is the heart-breaking story of a man seduced by his own imagination. This rediscovery marks the first London production since its premiere in 1957, starring Sir Ralph Richardson and Celia Johnson.

About The Playwright Robert Bolt

Playwright Robert Bolt (1924–1995) shot to fame in 1960 with A Man for All Seasons, the story of Sir Thomas More. A huge hit in the West End and on Broadway, it has enjoyed frequent revivals ever since. Bolt went on to win an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation of the play in 1967 and had great success with his other screenplays for the cinema including Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) for which he also won an Oscar, Ryan’s Daughter (1970), Lady Caroline Lamb (1972), The Bounty (1984) and The Mission (1986). His plays for the theatre include The Tiger and the Horse (1960), Gentle Jack (1963) and Vivat! Vivat Regina! (1971).

About The Director Benjamin Whitrow

Director Benjamin Whitrow returns to the Finborough Theatre after his critically acclaimed performance in The White Carnation and its subsequent transfer to the Jermyn Street Theatre. He has directed extensively at Birmingham Rep and Harrogate Theatre and most recently Kroetz’s Through the Leaves for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Best known as an actor, he trained at RADA and started his career in Laurence Olivier’s company at the National Theatre. He was nominated for a BAFTA for his performance as Mr. Bennet in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. His numerous theatre appearances include The School for Scandal and Richard II (Tobacco Factory, Bristol), Otherwise Engaged (Queen’s Theatre), Dirty Linen (Arts Theatre),Ten Times Table (Gielgud Theatre), Noises Off (Savoy Theatre), Passion Play and Made in Bangkok (Aldwych Theatre), Amphitryon  (Wyndham’s Theatre), Uncle Vanya (Vaudeville Theatre), Home and Beauty (Prince of Wales Theatre), The Rivals, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Winter’s Tale and Henry IV (Royal Shakespeare Company),The Last of Mrs. Cheyney, The Sisterhood, Henry VIII, The Lady's Not for Burning, Mr. Panmuir and A Man for all Seasons (Chichester Festival Theatre) and Racing Demon, Wild Oats, A Little Hotel on the Side and The Invention of Love (National Theatre).

About The Producer Troupe

Producer Ashley Cook for Troupe is supported by the Stage One Bursary Scheme for New Producers and enjoyed a critically acclaimed sell-out run at the Finborough Theatre in 2013 with The White Carnation starring Aden Gillett and Benjamin Whitrow, later transferring to the Jermyn Street Theatre with Michael Praed.

The Press on Troupe's Production of The White Carnation at the Finborough Theatre

“A neglected little treasure...life-affirming.” ★★★★ Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

“It is a treat to see the piece given such a fine production." ★★★★ Daisy Bowie-Sell, Time Out

“This intriguing and strongly acted revival.” Paul Taylor, The Independent

“R. C. Sherriff’s 1950s ghost story is deftly handled.” Alexander Gilmour, The Financial Times

“Could it be the sleeper hit of the season?” Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

The Press on the Original Production of Flowering Cherry

“A remarkable new play.” Kenneth Tynan, The Observer

“This is a magnificent play...the moment of revelation is crushing and tremendous.” Harold Hobson, The Sunday Times

“The London theatre has come by a new dramatist.” The Times

“Death of a Salesman with a Clapham accent…vividly and rather terrifyingly realistic.” Milton Shulman, Evening Standard

The Press on Flowering Cherry

★★★★★Five Stars, Plays To See
★★★★ Four Stars, Evening Standard
★★★★ Four Stars, Theatre Cat
★★★★ Four Stars, London Pub Theatres
★★★★ Four Stars, Ann Clifford
★★★★ Four Stars, Everything Theatre

OffWestEnd Award nominations for
Best Male Performance in a Supporting Role: Benjamin Whitrow
Best Set Designer: Alex Marker

“A wonderful evening’s theatre.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Robert Bolt's long lost masterpiece is done with style.” Penny Flood, Fulham SW6

“The Finborough Theatre is one of London’s most important fringe venues. As often as not, a visit is an education in the history of the British stage, and in Flowering Cherry they have plucked another fascinating forgotten play from relative obscurity.” Joe Meegan, Theatri.co

“This play was last produced in London over 50 years ago and Finborough have done it again and uncovered a gem of a play.” Ann Clifford

“There are three major reasons to see this play today: outstanding set, faultless cast and meticulous period detail.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Engrossing and convincing domestic drama.” Gerald Berkowitz, TheatreGuideLondon

“Bolt’s script is a finely wrought masterpiece, a perfect blend of astute social observation and nuanced emotional drama.” Lettie Mckie, Plays To See

“If I had to select my very favourite sub-genre of plays, it would without doubt be Fifties domestic realism, of which Flowering Cherry (1957) by Robert Bolt is an exquisite example. How this marks only its first London production since the premiere, which starred Celia Johnson and Ralph Richardson, baffles me. Nonetheless, hats off — and hung up neatly in an immaculately recreated Fifties design — to the Finborough for its richly rewarding rediscovery. This is just the sort of quality revival that it would befit the National Theatre to stage far more often than it does.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Robert Bolt wrote many fine plays other than his seductive whitewash of Sir Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons, so it is refreshing to find his first West End hit getting a rare outing.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The cast excels; most notably Catherine Kanter as the stoic Isobel and James Musgrave’s artfully unfolded portrayal of Tom’s transformation into adulthood.” Emma Smith, Exeunt

“Well played by Liam McKenna.” Sally Hayes, Everything Theatre

“Liam McKenna as Jim and Catherine Kanter as his wife stand out.” Gerald Berkowitz, TheatreGuideLondon

Catherine Kanter..."A restrainedly fine performance." Libby Purves, Theatre Cat

“Catherine Kanter is impressive.” Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

“Kanter's powerful performance of the stiff-upper-lipped 1950s housewife, caught between loyalty to her lying husband and the prospect of a new romance with Bowman, that really stands out.” Partially Obstructed View

“Phoebe Sparrow wonderfully poisonous, young, calculating, amused, lethal.” Libby Purves, Theatre Cat

“Phoebe Sparrow as Carol is a real femme fatale.” Lizzie Loveridge, Curtain Up

“Phoebe Sparrow is magnetic as the flirtatious Carol.” Joe Meegan, Theatri.co

“Phoebe Sparrow, James Musgrave and most particularly Hannah ...catch the eye as teenagers.” Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

“Benjamin Whitrow's cameo as the ancient stalwart of the insurance office is worth the entrance money alone, reminiscent of Wilfrid Hyde-White at his peak.” Michael Spring, Bargain Theatre Land

“Sharply funny moments (not least Whitrow’s own turn as Jim’s doddery colleague Gilbert Grass).” Tom Wicker, Time Out

“Benjamin Whitrow’s handsome production.” Tom Wicker, Time Out

“Director Benjamin Whitrow’s production is adorned with deft comic touches (not least in his own portrayal of the bumbling Gilbert Grass).” Joe Meegan, Theatri.co

“Benjamin Whitrow’s slick production.” Emma Smith, Exeunt

“Benjamin Whitrow’s supple production makes fine work of this poignant narrative of frustrated lives.” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“Directed with loving care by Benjamin Whitrow.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Benjamin Whitrow’s production is taut, meticulous and arrestingly acted.” Sam Marlowe, The Times

“An emotional rollercoaster tightly directed by Benjamin Whitrow.” Penny Flood, Fulham SW6

“The set is outstandingly conceived by Alex Marker.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Outstandingly designed by Alex Marker.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Alex Marker’s set and Janet Hudson-Holt’s costuming are excellent.” Tom Evans, A Younger Theatre

17 November – 20 December 2015

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from 28 November 2015)
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately 2 hours with one interval of twenty minutes