#FinboroughForFree: Jane Clegg

by St John Ervine

Online from 5 June – 5 August 2020

“I used to think you were so fine before I married you.”

The first London production for over 75 years from 2019

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A subtitled version of this video is available to watch from our partners at Scenesaver, here.

Read all about the original Finborough Theatre production of Jane Clegg, here.

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London, 1913.

Travelling salesman Henry Clegg has taken his wife, Jane, for granted for most of their marriage, as she endures his dishonesty, infidelity and neglect, as well as his demanding mother. 

But when Henry is accused of embezzling money from his firm and his latest affair is revealed, Jane realises she must finally escape her life of domestic abuse for herself and her children…only to find that for women without money and connections breaking free isn’t so easy.

Written in 1913 at the height of the campaign for votes for women, Jane Clegg premiered at Manchester’s famous Gaiety Theatre, before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre – where it was compared to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Dame Sybil Thorndike created the title role and performed it all over the world, including in a BBC Radio broadcast in 1967.

Unseen in London since 1944, Jane Clegg now receives a long-overdue new production, directed by renowned director David Gilmore. The Finborough Theatre has also previously rediscovered two acclaimed plays by St John Ervine, most notably his play Mixed Marriage in 2011.

About The Playwright St John Ervine

Playwright St John Ervine (1883-1971) was a dramatist, novelist, biographer and critic. Born in East Belfast to a Protestant family, he was for a time an unlikely choice as Literary Manager at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under W. B. Yeats. His many plays include Mixed Marriage (1911) and John Ferguson (1915), both of which were also recently rediscovered by the Finborough Theatre. In later life, Ervine turned his back on Ireland and its politics, serving in the First World War (where he lost a leg). He settled in England where he became a West End dramatist of drawing room comedies, as well as a noted drama critic for The Observer and The Morning Star, and a biographer of both Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw.

About The Director David Gilmore

Director David Gilmore has directed seventeen West End productions including the original award-winning productions of Daisy Pulls It Off and Lend Me a Tenor, and the award-winning musical The Hired Man by Melvyn Bragg and Howard Goodall, all produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. His production of Grease (Dominion Theatre, Cambridge Theatre and Victoria Palace Theatre) recently completed an almost unbroken UK run of 20 years, and has also played in many European and Asian cities. Other West End productions include Beyond Reasonable Doubt, the long-running hit starring Frank Finlay (Queen’s Theatre); Radio Times starring Tony Slattery (Queen’s Theatre); The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui starring Griff Rhys Jones (Queen’s Theatre); Neil Simon’s Chapter Two starring Tom Conti and Sharon Gless (Gielgud Theatre); Rick’s Bar Casablanca (Whitehall Theatre); Annie Get Your Gun starring Suzi Quatro (Aldwych Theatre); the Cole Porter revue A Swell Party (Vaudeville Theatre); Out of the Blue (Shaftesbury Theatre); Fatal Attraction starring Susannah York and Denis Quilley (Theatre Royal Haymarket); All The Fun Of The Fair with David Essex (Garrick Theatre); and Sinatra (London Palladium). His production of Defending the Caveman (Apollo Theatre) won an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. He has also directed Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart (King’s Head Theatre), Machiavelli’s Mandragola (National Theatre), Sir Anthony Quayle in Pinero’s Dandy Dick (Compass Theatre), Michael Frayn's Noises Off and Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias (National Tours), The Winter’s Tale (New Shakespeare Company), and Noël Coward’s Cavalcade (Chichester Festival Theatre) with a cast of over two hundred. He also directed the farewell tour of the band Harvey and the Wallbangers.

He has worked frequently in Australia, on the musical Footloose (Capitol Theatre, Sydney), Jamie Oliver’s hugely successful performances, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide) and Happy Days (Olympic Superdome, Sydney). His arena and stadium productions in Australia and South Africa have played to audiences of 20,000-30,000 people at each performance. Other international productions include La Haut, a French comedy operetta, which was subsequently filmed for French television (Theatre des Celestins, Lyon, and Theatre de Variétés, Paris), Hair (Palais des Sports, Paris, and National Tour of Germany), As You Like It (Shakespeare Repertory Company, Chicago), David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (Royal Flemish Theatre, Brussels), Ben Elton’s Gasping (Hong Kong and Peking) and Gaslight (Mirvish Theatre, Toronto).
As Artistic Director of the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Southampton, for five years, he directed The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Candida, Uncle Vanya, Hedda Gabler, Summer and Smoke and other productions by authors such as Rattigan, Coward, Frayn, Wedekind and Christopher Hampton and half a dozen musicals. Prior to this, he was also Artistic Director of the Watermill Theatre near Newbury for three years. More recently, he was the inaugural Artistic Director of the new St. James Theatre, steering it through to opening and through its first two seasons.

He has also adapted De Rojas’ Celestina for the stage.

The Press on Jane Clegg at the Finborough Theatre

★★★★★ Five Stars, UK Theatre Web
★★★★★ Five Stars, The Upcoming
★★★★ Four Stars, Broadway World
★★★★ Four Stars, Act Drop
★★★★ Four Stars, The Reviews Hub
★★★★ Four Stars, Unrestricted Theatre
★★★★ Four Stars, ReviewsGate
★★★★ Four Stars, Stage Review
★★★★ Four Stars, London Pub Theatres

“This production shines with high values from the start.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Andrew Maunder recently rediscovered Ervine’s 1913 controversial gem, Jane Clegg, and brought it out of mothballs.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“It hasn’t been seen in London for 75 years but audiences at the Finborough Theatre are being thrilled by its compelling storytelling in a sizzling revival.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“A first class production of a well-made play which thoroughly deserves rediscovery.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Suffrage-era gem shines again.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Thanks to the Finborough’s excellent new production, it certainly won’t be another 75-years until we see this important work again.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“Another winner from the always reliable Finborough.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“A belter of a play that still resounds with relevance in spite of its seemingly remote Edwardian setting.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“Highly recommended.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“An interesting resurrection of a play which reminds us just how times have changed.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“David Gilmour’s revival, designed by Alex Marker and well acted, is highly welcome.” Robert Tanitch, Mature Times

“There’s usually a good reason why a play has been gathering dust for decades but, after sitting enthralled by this pertinent and timely melodrama, I can’t understand why this has been overlooked for so long.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

Jane Clegg at the Finborough Theatre is a play that takes you by surprise. Despite it being 116-years old, the themes it exposes still give the play currency.” Unrestricted Theatre

Jane Clegg is a dour play, with a terrific build up of tension.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“The action and emotion draw you in.” Melinda Haunton, View From The Cheap Seat

“There remains much to make any audience think about the role of women in society especially now when that role is changing drastically.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“With its fiercely feminist themes in a class ridden environment it is a pity it has been so neglected. Now, resurrected by Andrew Maunder in association with Neil McPherson at the Finborough Theatre, it highlights a stark contrast with the roles of women today.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

The play’s study of a marriage gone wrong was compared to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; it was popular during the First World War and through the 1920s and 1930s but has since fallen into neglect. The revival at the Finborough is, in one sense, a chance to revisit one of the twentieth century’s most enduring but forgotten plays.” Kate Law, Women’s History Network

“How astonishing to find that a play from 1913 can potently remind us of the injustices of inequality and the necessity for strength in the face of adversity.” Unrestricted Theatre

“The recent rediscovery of Edwardian dramas is proving fruitful for London’s fringe theatres, showing that emotionally, politically and socially the Britain of a century ago was not so very different after all.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

Jane Clegg is not merely a play about matrimonial rights, fidelity or simply a battle of the sexes, for it delves into many themes that make for a still relevant, terrifically watchable and ultimately poignant drama.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“Ervine may be all-but forgotten as a playwright, but his drama of marital mismatch and domestic betrayal fully deserves its Finborough revival.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“Written by journalist St John Ervine, he has detailed some of the traumas attached to the ordinary lives of women, at a time when they were less able to do so on their own account.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“A solidly built work.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“In Jane Clegg, Ervine sought to dispel the “half-witted heroine” in favour of a theatre of realism and social progress. Over a hundred years on, Jane Clegg is still as real as it gets.” Daniel MacLeod, The Upcoming

“Ervine wrote socially-conscious plays and supported women's suffrage. In Jane Clegg, he spotlights the contrasts in position and attitude in two women, Jane and her mother in law, to great effect.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Maverick Irish playwright, St John Ervine didn’t shirk the tough issues when he put pen to paper.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“Ervine makes the point strongly that female independence is tied up with economics and that most women, suffering domestic imprisonment, cannot afford to break free.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A supporter of the women's suffrage movement, it's hardly surprising that St John Ervine came up with this riveting story of a strong, intelligent woman pitted against her 'absolute rotter' of a husband.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“Every single nuance of the script is given its due, so nothing is missed.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“There is plenty of richly-created detail among the supporting characters.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“The author skilfully presents us with three very different generations of womankind.” Unrestricted Theatre

“It’s hard to believe Jane is a product of the Edwardian era. Bold, fearless and courageous, she behaves very much like a modern, independent woman, who fights back when she realises that she’s married to ‘an absolute rotter’.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“The emotional stultification of a powerful female lead is pure Ibsen, which Gilmore emphasises to great effect here.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“The script makes clear class distinctions which the actors portray faithfully.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Deceptively strong, like its heroine, this 115-year old play still resonates through sensitive performances and direction.” Unrestricted Theatre

“The cast lives up to the potential of Ervine’s rounded characters – in just 80 minutes we come to know far more than we’re shown.” Daniel MacLeod, The Upcoming

“The cast is cracking.” Melinda Haunton, View From The Cheap Seat

“Committed and detailed performances by all the cast on a charming set are all you could ask for in experiencing this journey through one woman’s liberation. You’ll be gripped.” Unrestricted Theatre

“There are fine performances from the entire ensemble in this gripping tale, but especially from Brian Martin and Alix Dunmore as Jane.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“David Gilmore directs here, exhorting strong performances from both leading actors - Alix Dunmore as Jane and Brian Martin as Henry.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“Good support by Sidney Livingstone as an honest bookmaker, Matthew Sim as a pugnacious bookie and Maev Alexander as a mother-in-law from hell.” Robert Tanitch, Mature Times

“Strong support from Brian Martin as the hapless Henry, Maev Alexander as his protective mother and Matthew Sim as a vindictive bookie.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Impressive support from Matthew Sim…and Maev Alexander…with Sidney Livingstone lending his authoritatively mellifluous voice.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“The supporting cast are also well-chosen and of a high standard.” Unrestricted Theatre

“A fine central performance from Alix Dunmore.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Dunmore gives a powerful, understated performance.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“Played with calm and forbearance by Alix Dunmore.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Alix Dunmore is quietly eloquent as Jane.” Unrestricted Theatre

“Dunmore brings a quiet strength to the character…She delivers a precise and headstrong performance.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

“Alix Dunmore as Jane Clegg tackles a challenging part with brilliance. Beautifully judged, understated work.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Alix Dunmore…admirably suggests a woman slowly awakening to her power.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Alix Dunmore has the dignity, integrity and steely steadfastness the role requires.” Robert Tanitch, Mature Times

“Brian Martin gives a skilful and detailed performance.” Unrestricted Theatre

“Martin is spotless.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

“Brian Martin is all too believable as a mother’s boy who has never really grown up.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Brian Martin whips up the anger of an entire audience with his outrageous behaviour as Henry.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“As Henry Clegg, Brian Martin is an amiable rat…He could be a despicable character, but Martin manages to make us care about his plight.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Brian Martin emphasises his pathetic weakness.” Robert Tanitch, Mature Times

“Good support from Matthew Sim’s volatile bookie and Sidney Livingstone’s loyal cashier.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“The bookie (Matthew Sim) and the clerk (Sidney Livingstone) nearly steal the show with their vignettes.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Sidney Livingstone gives us a delightful performance.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Sidney Livingstone is particularly good.” Anne Cox, Stage Review

“Played to perfection by Matthew Sim.” Daniel MacLeod, The Upcoming

“Played with grim satisfaction by Maev Alexander.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Eve Prenelle captures the wild thing which is Jenny.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Played charmingly by child actor’s Theo Wilkinson and Eve Prenelle.” Heather Jeffrey, London Pub Theatres

“Commendable work too from the younger members of the cast - Theo Wilkinson…and Eve Prenelle.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“Theo Wilkinson makes Johnny Mummy's favourite without seeming priggish.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Under David Gilmore’s skilful direction, Jane Clegg returns to the London stage in impeccable fashion.” Daniel MacLeod, The Upcoming

“Well directed by David Gilmore.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The director makes his point clearly and uncompromisingly.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

“In skilful and sensitive direction by David Gilmour the humanity always comes through the writing.” Unrestricted Theatre

“David Gilmore’s production is gripping and carefully controlled, suggesting Ervine’s intriguing drama has earned a place among the great writers of his day.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

“David Gilmore’s production hits the right note of detailed naturalism.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“David Gilmore’s production is quietly gripping.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“He projects his vision in a wholesome piece of theatre that manages to be delicate while he works with determination and urgency.” Cindy Marcolina, Broadway World

“Terrific set by Alex Marker.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The play benefits from a richly textured design by Alex Marker.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Alex Marker’s miracle of a set…is a shining example of creativity, ingenuity and hard work.” Unrestricted Theatre

“A lovely, slightly shabby set, subtle lighting and impeccable costume firmly place us in this troubled household in 1913.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Alex Marker's very fine and lovingly detailed set does much to enhance the production, providing a real touch of evocative authenticity.” Peter Brown, Act Drop

“Alex Marker’s beautifully detailed parlour room set.” Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub

The Press on the Online Release of Jane Clegg

★★★★ Four Stars, Breaking the Fourth Wall
★★★★ Four Stars, North West End
★★★★ Four Stars, ReviewsGate
The Times – Best Live Arts To Stream This Week
This Week – Three To Stream
OffWestEnd OnComm Award
One of Lyn Gardner's Picks on Stagedoor

“The kind of sturdy blast from the past that the Finborough dusts off and does so well.” Lyn Gardner, StageDoor

“A most welcome chance to see a fine production from this adventurous and gallant fringe theatre which specialises in reviving forgotten plays – the ones that the National Theatre never seems to find space or time for.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“An absolute pleasure to watch.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“It is a wonder that it took seventy-five years for the revival of Jane Clegg…The Finborough Theatre, acclaimed for their revivals, brought Ervine’s progressive work back to audiences in 2019, and it is now available to stream online.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“A long overdue revival.” This Week

“The drama still grabs.” Quentin Letts, Waitrose Magazine

“Superb show..Highly recommended.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“A most welcome resurrection.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“A forgotten classic…all credit to the Finborough for mounting this domestic drama.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“The Finborough should be congratulated on its dedication to resurrecting these forgotten but nevertheless, fascinating plays.” Caroline Worswick, North West End

“Strong…with a lot that is fascinating to a Twenty-First Century audience.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“To modern eyes it is an alien world but it is a powerful piece for all that and one has to be surprised that the revival was the first time it had been seen in 75 years.” William Russell, ReviewsGate

“Another of the classy revivals with which the theatre is associated.” Mayer Wakefield, Morning Star Online

“Not to be forgotten is a tiny west London venue that consistently punches above its weight.” Matt Wolf, The Arts Desk

“One of London's most adventurous and consistently high-quality fringe venues.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“A great play.” This Week

“This play is another glance back at the early 1900’s which the Finborough have excelled at previously.” Caroline Worswick, North West End

“The story is, all too regrettably, a timeless one.” Quentin Letts, Waitrose Magazine

“The skilful use of two cameras captures the live theatre experience well.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“The archive footage is some of the best available outside of the National Theatre, with steady camera work and clarity of sound which is vital for a play driven by conversation.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“Its mixture of full-stage and close-up tells the story effectively.” Aleks Sierz

“Once popular in repertory and frequently revived until the 1940s, this may now have most interest as a rarity but it still has something to tell us. It leaves a big question mark over Jane’s future and I found myself wondering later how this family would have fared in lockdown.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“This overlooked drama is gripping on many levels. The interlocking debts and swindles. The emotional torment of a spurned husband attracted by a racy young girlfriend. The quest for dominance by a dutiful wife newly empowered by money.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Edwardian dramatist St John Ervine was once, along with Arthur Wing Pinero, Henry Arthur Jones, Harley Granville Barker and George Bernard Shaw, hailed as a British Ibsen. They wrote problem plays that explored the social injustices of the early 20th-century, including the so-called Woman Question. Although Ervine is less well known than GBS, some of his work is just as interesting, and once again this fringe venue, led by its artistic director Neil McPherson, has played an important part by reviving Jane Clegg.” Aleks Sierz

“You could certainly do worse than this noteworthy 90 minutes.” Mayer Wakefield, Morning Star Online

“The play is Ibsenite not only in the clarity of its moral conflict, but also in its form as a well-made three-act play.” Aleks Sierz

“Ervine’s interrogation of money and power is timelessly relevant.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“Ervine eloquently paints Jane’s portrait…When she takes control you feel like cheering.” Aleks Sierz

“Little-known to us now, [St John Ervine] represents just the sort of once-essential playwright whose work west London’s ever-essential Finborough Theatre has long showcased to fine effect.” Matt Wolf, The Arts Desk

“The characters are skilfully drawn. Jane looks like a timid domestic creature but she shows hidden steel when she takes on her arrogant, deceitful husband. And although Henry is a philandering rotter he’s blessed with the intelligence to realise that Jane’s honesty and caution are ill suited to his free-wheeling nature.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“The cast and direction (David Gilmore) are compelling.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“An excellent cast…with Dunmore and Martin capturing the essence of their characters with understated gumption.” Mayer Wakefield, Morning Star Online

“The cast manage the space expertly, cramming it with tension.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“The acting is very good.” Aleks Sierz

“Strong ensemble.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“Maev Alexander (mother), Matthew Sim (bookie) and Sidney Livingstone (discoverer of the embezzlement) provide generous support.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“Well supported by Maeve Alexander…Matthew Sim’s Cockney Munce and Sidney Livingstone’s upright Morrison.” Aleks Sierz

“Jane is a caring, responsible mother and so far has accepted the supportive role of conventional wife, but Dunmore also

suggests the conflict and determination beneath her surface composure.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Alix Dunmore is the quiet yet steely centre of the household.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“Dunmore’s portrayal of her constant respectability and strength is unwavering.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“Dunmore shows through her nuanced performance, Jane’s ‘logical’ train of thought, calmly seeking empirical evidence at every step before making lasting decisions.” Michael Davis, Breaking The Fourth Wall

“Brian Martin is excellent.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“Brian Martin's…is a fully committed performance that never falls over into self-parody.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“Brian Martin’s Henry can be both sociable and exciting, but also manipulative and wheedling.” Aleks Sierz

“Alexander portrays her irritating disposition well.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“Sidney Livingstone as company cashier Mr Morrison is smooth respectability.” Howard Loxton, British Theatre Guide

“Sidney Livingstone…lends appropriate gravitas to the proceedings.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“Played with strength by Livingstone.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“A good turn by Matthew Sim.” Quentin Letts, Waitrose Magazine

“The director David Gilmore’s attention to the detail of the period is to be commended.” Caroline Worswick, North West End

“David Gilmore’s production is naturalistic enough to make the characters instantly familiar.” Aleks Sierz

“David Gilmore’s lucid direction.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

“Designed by Alex Marker with impeccable detail.” Eve Newstead, Reviews Hub

“Once again, the Finborough have created a set that echoes the period.” Caroline Worswick, North West End                            

“Alex Marker’s set suggests the comfortable trap of Edwardian respectability.” Aleks Sierz

“The costumes in David Gilmore’s production are as good as you’ll see in a BBC period drama. And the…set is equally convincing.” Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“The…Finborough stage is used to good effect by designer Alex Marker.” John Chapman, 2nd From Bottom

Press Resources

Production press release available here.

Production images available here.

Online from 5 June – 5 August 2020