London Wall

by John Van Druten

29 January – 23 February 2013

The first London production for more than 80 years

The entire run of LONDON WALL sold out at the Finborough Theatre.

The Finborough production transfers to the St James’ Theatre, London, from 7 May–1 June 2013.

Full information at www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/events/london-wall

★★★★★WHATSONSTAGE
★★★★★ The Arts Desk
★★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★☆ The Guardian
★★★★☆ The Times
★★★★☆ The Public Reviews
★★★★☆ TimeOut
★★★★☆ The Upcoming

Presented by the acclaimed Two’s Company, returning to the Finborough Theatre following their sell-out 2005 production of the Great War classic Red Night

London Wall is a wryly comic look at the life of women office workers in the 1930s. In a solicitor’s office in the City, Brewer, the office manager, sees pretty new 19-year-old typist Pat as fair game. As some of the more experienced secretaries try to warn her, and others leave her to her fate, her steady boyfriend – an idealistic young writer – desperately tries to win her back. Meanwhile, cynical Miss Janus’ romantic life seems to be over as she is jilted by her lover at the desperate age of 35…

First performed in the West End in 1931 starring a young John Mills, filmed in 1932, televised in 1963, but unseen since then, London Wall is a surprisingly modern look at men’s continuing inability to see women as professional equals and colleagues.

Image copyright: Lynne’s Lens

About The Playwright John Van Druten

John Van Druten (1901-1957) was one of the most successful West End and Broadway playwrights of the 1930s and 1940s. He was known for his witty and urbane observations of contemporary life and society. His first play Young Woodley was originally banned in London by the Lord Chamberlain, but went on to have successful runs in the West End and on Broadway. It was revived at the Finborough Theatre in 2006. He later emigrated to America where his plays included The Voice of the Turtle (1943) which ran for three seasons in New York and was filmed with Ronald Reagan. He remains best known for his 1951 play I Am a Camera, based on Christopher Isherwood’s short stories, which formed the basis of the musical Cabaret.

About The Director Tricia Thorns

Tricia Thorns started her career as an actor in John Neville’s company at the Fortune Theatre following a Classics BA from Nottingham University. As an actor, she performed widely on stage, in films and in television. As a director, her work includes My Real War 1914-? (Trafalgar Studios and National Tour), Red Night (Finborough Theatre), The Searcher (Workshop production at Greenwich Theatre), What the Women Did (Southwark Playhouse), Forgotten Voices of the Great War (Pleasance London), Ex  and Black ‘Ell (Soho Theatre), Twelfth Night (Dulwich Picture Gallery), Peer Gynt (Alleyn’s Theatre) and Passion Play 2000, a huge community play which she also wrote.

About Two's Company

Two’s Company was founded by Graham Cowley (producer for Out of Joint since 1998), Tricia Thorns and Ian Talbot OBE (former Artistic Director of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park) in 2003. Its main concern as a company has been to uncover forgotten gems of 20th century theatre, noted in their day but forgotten as the tides of fashion changed. The Forgotten Voices of the Great War series of nine plays written during the First World War or soon after brought great acclaim. Graham Cowley says “It continues to surprise us that plays written over 80 years ago can speak to us with such relevance and clarity.”

The Press on Two's Company

Time Out Critics' Choice

★★★★ Four Stars What’s On In London

“A memorable evening of theatre...another triumph for the finborough” John Thaxter, What’s On In London

“A terrific rediscovery of a piece unseen for 70 years" Timothy Ramsden, Reviewsgate

“Tricia Thorns’ strongly cast revival...reveals a riveting drama in its own right, leavened by phlegmatic humour and ironic songs” John Thaxter, What’s On In London

“Tricia Thorns' beautiful production subtly ekes out moments of genuine, heartfelt honesty one minute and euphoric comradeship the next.” Adam Taylor, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Thorns' production manoeuvres a cast of 10 with great skill around the tiny Finborough stage” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Director Tricia Thorns creates a strong sense of camaraderie underscored by mortal danger” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

The Press on London Wall

★★★★★WHATSONSTAGE
★★★★★ The Arts Desk
★★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★☆ The Guardian
★★★★☆ The Times
★★★★☆ The Public Reviews
★★★★☆ TimeOut
★★★★☆ The Upcoming

“Plucked from obscurity and lavished with care, John van Druten’s skilful office drama may not have been seen in London for 80 years, but it couldn’t have hoped for a better homecoming than this.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“An almost perfect piece of theatre.. Charming, truthful and hilarious” Lettie Mckie, The Public Reviews

“Well-made, well-performed, heart-warming and unexpectedly moving.” Lauren Mooney, Exeunt Magazine

“Delightful” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Tremendously enjoyable.” Julia Rank, A Younger Theatre

“An an outright charmer of immense possibility.” David Benedict, Variety

“The ultra-reliable Finborough strikes again, with a well-made and insightful play that’s been immaculately revived.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“This well-acted, immaculately designed production has many important things to say about office politics and gender relations.” Emma Cole, One Stop Arts

“A smart indictment of the meagre circumference of a woman’s life as part of the urban workforce of the ’30s, wrapped around a heartfelt romantic drama.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“Sex curdles the air like thunder” Libby Purves, The Times

“After Priestley's Cornelius, the Finborough brings us another play about office life in the interwar years; and even if John Van Druten's 1931 piece doesn't have the state-of-the nation ambitions of its predecessor, it still has pertinent things to say about the exploitation of women, and is as rivetingly entertaining as you'd expect from the man who went on to write I Am a Camera.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Crammed with delicious details and moments” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“A rueful love letter to our brave grandmothers.” Libby Purves, The Times

“It is somewhat ironic that this 30s play about women struggling to make their way in the workplace offers juicier female roles than many modern shows.” Robert Cumber, Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle

“From "The Apartment" to "Sex and the City" and beyond, writers have created trenchant comedy combining dramas of office life with sex and the single girl. It's a delight, therefore, to discover that one of the sharpest in the genre dates from 1931.” David Benedict, Variety

“There’s more to Van Druten’s work than meets the eye” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“John van Druten’s play London Wall was first produced in the West End in 1931, but it takes such a wry, incisive look at the position of women in the workplace that it feels as if it could have been written far more recently.” Lauren Mooney, Exeunt Magazine

“The acting is perfection” Carole Woddis, The Arts Desk

“Beautifully cast” Julia Rank, A Younger Theatre

“Beautifully judged, immaculately acted revival isn't just theatrical archeology, it's a treat” David Benedict, Variety

“Tricia Thorns’ production is beautifully cast and played throughout” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Tricia Thorns' production for Two's Company is brilliantly designed by Alex Marker and excellently cast.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A multi-layered and compelling production in which all the actors excel” Lettie Mckie, The Public Reviews

“A wonderfully slick production performed by a very strong ensemble.” Mel West, WhatsOnStage

“Maia Alexander as the gauche newcomer, Alix Dunmore as her older protector, Alex Robertson as the suave seducer and Marty Cruickshank as a litigious fusspot all impress in a play that reminds us of a lost era – when middlebrow drama had a social purpose.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Superbly cast. Maia Alexander conveys the perfect mix of naivety and good sense as Pat, while Alix Dunmore invests Miss Janus with just the right amount of cynicism, her true hopes and wants vividly visible beneath her clipped exterior.” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Both Alix Dunmore and particularly Maia Alexander names to watch out for in future. Both have that rare gift of conveying deep feeling on stage and making it seem entirely natural.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Alix Dunmore shines as Blanche Janus” Mel West, WhatsOnStage

“It’s Alix Dunmore’s performance as the restrained Miss Janus, sensitively aware of her increasing age and desperate to escape, that takes your breath away.” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“Alix Dunmore, whose performance as the dignified Miss Janus is strong and humorous and brimming with desperation; she’s heartbreakingly affecting” Lauren Mooney, Exeunt Magazine

“Maia Alexander...is something very special and a name to watch, genuine youth and innocence conveyed without any cloying or synthetic sweetness.” Carole Woddis, The Arts Desk

“The male characters, too, are a joy to watch, from the sweatily solicitous Hec (Timothy O'Hara) to the unctuous and predatory Brewer (Alex Robertson)” Mel West, WhatsOnStage

“Alex Robertson is irresistibly monstrous” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“There are also enjoyable turns from veteran performers David Whitworth as the surprisingly sympathetic boss, and Marty Cruickshank as dotty client Miss Willesden” Julia Rank, A Younger Theatre

“Timothy O'Hara's depiction of love interest Hec Hammond completely wins the audience over” Emma Cole, One Stop Arts

“Tricia Thorns’ charming and wholly satisfying production” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Director Tricia Thorns brilliantly captures the tumult of a busy legal office, aided by Alex Marker’s ingenious design” Stewart Pringle, Time Out

“There is no mistaking the gloss and brilliantine Tricia Thorns brings to her production.” Carole Woddis, The Arts Desk

“Tricia Thorns’s sparkling, witty and truthful production” Julia Rank, A Younger Theatre

“Tricia Thorn’s loving revival” Libby Purves, The Times

“Alex Marker’s set makes ingenious use of the intimate performance space and is so lovingly detailed” Natasha Tripney, The Stage

“Yet another astonishing set from Alex Marker that really could be transported straight from the front office of a solicitor's firm c. 1931” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“Alex Marker’s perfectly realised design” Libby Purves, The Times

“Without a doubt, the Finborough Theatre in Earls Court is one of the best venues in London. A multi-award winning space that exists on a shoe string but punches above its weight with a programme of thought provoking new writing. As new production London Wall proves, it is also a master of revival, focusing on neglected 19th and 20th century texts.” Lettie Mckie, The Public Reviews

“No other London fringe theatre has achieved such stellar success as this tiny pub theatre under the helm of its restless, irrepressible artistic director Neil McPherson, who has made a cottage industry out of discovering forgotten gems.” Carole Woddis, The Arts Desk

“What is really striking, however, is that the two best plays in the capital at the moment – this and John Van Druten's London Wall at the Finborough – not only deal with the shameless economic exploitation of women, but they derive from under-resourced small spaces. If you want good drama in London, head to Richmond or Earl's Court.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

29 January – 23 February 2013

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm (from the second week of the run)
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately two hours with one interval of fifteen minutes