Armstrong’s War

by Colleen Murphy

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 August 2013

★★★★★ OneStopArts
★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ CultureFly
★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★ The Upcoming

A fully staged workshop production (prior to its official World Premiere in October 2013 at the renowned Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver, B.C., Canada)

Written by multi-award-winning former Canadian Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre, Colleen Murphy, Armstrong’s War is the tale of a twenty one year-old Canadian soldier who has been wounded in Afghanistan. As the young soldier recovers in hospital, feisty Halley Armstrong – a twelve year-old girl guide eager to earn every possible badge – announces that she has volunteered to read for him.

Despite initial misgivings, a relationship develops between this most unlikely of couples who find that they have something in common beyond storytelling…

‘Window watch’ Image by ‘The U.S. Army’ (

About The Playwright Colleen Murphy

Playwright Colleen Murphy is the former Canadian Playwright in Residence at the Finborough Theatre where her previous productions have included The December Man (L’homme de decembre),The Goodnight Bird, The Piper and Beating Heart Cadaver. Since 2010, Colleen has been guest playwright at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Canada and was Playwright-in-Residence at The Factory Theatre in Toronto in 2011/2012. She is currently working on three new plays, as well as libretti for new operas with composers Aaron Gervais and Andrew Staniland. Murphy’s play, The December Man (L’homme de décembre), won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. Her large opera, The Enslavemant and Liberation of Oksana G, composed by Aaron Gervais, will be produced by Tapestry New Opera in Toronto in 2015. Murphy is also an award winning filmmaker and her films have played in festivals around the world including Putty Worm, The Feeler, Shoemaker, Desire, War Holes, Girl with Dog and Out in the Cold.

About The Director Jennifer Bakst

Director Jennifer Bakst is currently Resident Assistant Director at the Finborough Theatre, where she has assisted Lisa Blair on I Didn’t Always Live Here, Andrew Keates on Rooms: A Rock Romance and Max Pappenheim on Nothing Is the End of the World (Except for the End of the World). Trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, her directing includes The Collectors  (Courtyard Theatre), Bash  (Etcetera Theatre), Tiny Dynamite (Cockpit Theatre), Precious Little Talent (Karamel Club) and Fallen Angels (Theatro Technis). Assistant Direction includes assisting Patrick Kinmonth on Samson et Dalila  (Deutsche Oper Berlin), Jasmin Solfaghari on Albert Herring (Leipziger Musikhochschule) and Jacqui Somerville on A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Theatre in Education Tour). Jennifer also produced Letters, Signs and Songs (Shakespeare’s Globe), a charity gala performance for and about Gaza.

The Press on Armstrong's War

★★★★★ OneStopArts
★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ CultureFly
★★★★ Everything Theatre
★★★★ The Upcoming

"A thought-provoking theatrical gem of a production.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“An understated yet resonant portrait of war's effects. “ Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

“I for one hope that this production comes back to London after its official premiere in Vancouver, as I can only imagine what such an effect this resonant, well-crafted and touching story will have when it reaches wider audiences.” Alex Gordon, CultureFly

“Murphy – a firm Finborough favourite following her tenure as the theatre's Canadian Playwright in Residence 2011-12 – writes sharp, humorous, wryly perceptive dialogue that hotwires us to the hearts and minds of her characters and makes us care for them, deeply.” Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

“The success of a play as intimate as Armstrong's War is dependent upon its performances, and it's hard to see how those in Bakst's production could be bettered.” Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

“Committed and honest performances...compelling.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Mesmerising performances of Jessica Barden as Halley and Mark Quartley as Michael" Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Quartley's perfectly-caught wariness and reserve complementing a performance of heart-melting gorgeousness from Barden who, glowing and chipper, naive and wise, gradually reveals the depths beneath Halley's spry eagerness. “ Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

“The candour and conviction that both actors bring to the stage make Murphy's play into a thoroughly involving and beautifully sustained duet.” Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

“Stunning performances from two terrific performers.” Everything Theatre

“The Finborough has a reputation for high performance standards and this show is certainly no exception. Jessica Barden is both familiar and beguiling as Halley and the truthfulness of her performance is compelling to watch. She has terrific chemistry with Mark Quartley who plays Michael brilliantly.” Everything Theatre

“Jessica Barden beautifully captures Halley’s front of youthful, almost childish enthusiasm.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Jessica Barden, scene-stealing on screen in Tamara Drewe and Hanna and on stage in Jerusalem, here proves to be equally adept as comedienne and dramatic actress.” Marianka Swain, Bargain Theatreland

“Jessica Barden - of Tamara Drew and Coronation Street renown - gives a highly spirited performance as Halley and you can almost see the sparks flying.” Michael Stewart, Morning Star

“Mark Quartley brilliantly takes on the mantle of the physically and mentally battle-traumatised Michael.” Carole Gordon, WhatsOnStage

“Mark Quartley's Armstrong is totally convincing.” Michael Stewart, Morning Star

“Jennifer Bakst’s precise production has some beautifully joyous moments.” Marianka Swain, Bargain Theatreland

“There are several surprising twists along the way – along with details and emotional nuances that ring absolutely true, and that Jennifer Bakst's production brings beautifully to the fore.” Alex Ramon, OneStopArts

“Theatre can be a great escape from a somewhat gloomy reality; conversely, it is an incredibly effective medium for debating and dramatizing important issues. The Finborough is on a roll when it comes to the latter, and with its latest offering, a smart, thought-provoking two-hander, it can add military presence in Afghanistan and the nature of modern heroism to the list.” Marianka Swain, Bargain Theatreland

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 August 2013

Tickets and Times

Monday 7:30pm
Tuesday 2:00pm
Sunday 7:30pm

Approximately 90 minutes with no interval