Masterpieces

by Sarah Daniels

24 April - 19 May

"You are not at liberty to avenge the pornography industry in this country. We have the censorship laws for that."

The first professional London production in 35 years

Masterpieces opens on three couples – Rowena and Trevor, their friends Yvonne and Ron, and Rowena’s mother Jennifer and stepfather Clive – having dinner in a restaurant. They exchange sexist jokes to a variety of responses: some laugh uproariously, some uncomfortably, and one is deeply unhappy. Masterpieces is the story of Rowena, and her journey from seeing a pornographic magazine for the first time, to a thwarted attempt to help an unhappy prostitute, from uncomfortable laughter, to radical and disgusted protest at female subjugation.

A passionate indictment of pornography, the objectification of women and those who condone violence against them.

Masterpieces was originally produced in 1983 at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre where it won Sarah Daniels the London Theatre Critics Award for Most Promising Playwright. Extracts from the play were also performed at the National Theatre in a one-off platform performance in 1999 as one of their ‘100 Most Significant Plays of the 20th Century’.

About the playwright Sarah Daniels

Playwright Sarah Daniels is an acclaimed writer whose work has been performed all over the world. She has worked extensively as a playwright having work produced at the Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre, Clean Break Theatre Company, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield and Palace Theatre, Watford among others. Her plays include Ripen Our Darkness, The Devil’s Gateway, Byrthrite and Beside Herself (Royal Court Theatre) and Best Mates and Dust (National Theatre). In addition to her work for the stage and radio she has written extensively for television including EastEnders, Holby City and Grange Hill (which she wrote for twenty years).

About the director Melissa Dunne

Director Melissa Dunne returns to the Finborough Theatre where she directed Just to Get Married, named in The Observer’s ‘Best Theatre Of 2017’ list. She is Artistic Director of Papercut Theatre and has directed work in venues as diverse as Theatre503, Arcola Theatre, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Festival Hall. Direction includes I’m Not Jesus Christ (Theatre N16, supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute), I Still Get Excited When I See A Ladybird (Theatre503), Extraction (Etcetera Theatre) and The Space Between My Head and My Body (Theatre503 and Edinburgh Festival). She founded and continues to creatively manage the acclaimed XY playwriting festival, which has been produced at Hackney Showroom, Latitude Festival, Pleasance Edinburgh and Theatre503. She has read scripts for the literary departments of the National Theatre, Bush Theatre, the Verity Bargate Award and Soho Theatre. She is also a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

The press on Masterpieces at the Finborough

“Neil McPherson, the long-serving head of this London fringe theatre, has a brilliant record of succeeding where many other venues have failed — namely in reviving both modern postwar classics and restaging the forgotten plays of recent decades. And all on a shoestring. His current revival of Sarah Daniels’s 1983 feminist classic, Masterpieces, is his latest good idea. It’s a play that is often seen, in textbooks, as typical of a militant femintern style of theatre-making so, in the #MeToo moment, it now acquires a renewed relevance.” Aleks Sierz, Aleks Sierz

“It has lost none of its bite, and its warnings remain as sadly relevant as ever.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“Compelling.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“A most timely revival.” William Russell, Reviews Gate

“Bravely, the Finborough Theatre, never frightened of a challenge, has now resurrected the play, resulting in its first London showing since 1983.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“A timely revival.” Lyn Gardner, the Guardian

“An important and provocative work.” Ben Lawrence, The Telegraph

“We are reminded repeatedly that we have so much still to consider, and that this mere opening of the debate remains closer than we would like it to be.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“In the wake of the #MeToo movement, with women finally feeling they are able to speak out about harassment and violence they have experienced, it is clear that little has changed in 35 years.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“A magnificent, provocative play for today from yesterday.” William Russell, Reviews Gate

“Topical and contemporary in its portrayal of rape culture.” Amelia Brown, The Spy In The Stalls

“A coruscating piece of work.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“One wishes that Masterpieces could have been consigned to history as a play of its time: instead, it is sickeningly relevant.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“A lesson from history.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“A fascinating example of radical non-linear storytelling.” Lyn Gardner, the Guardian

“The writing is so sharp, the characters so defined, the actors’ portrayals so engaging that it is impossible not to be swept up by Daniels’s premise.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“Orange-Turner delivers it magnificently.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Tessie Orange-Turner excels in two distinct roles.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“Olivia Darnley…delivers a standout performance, tight, energetic and committed.” Amelia Brown, The Spy In The Stalls

“Played brilliantly by Olivia Darnley.” Shanine Salmon, View From The Cheap Seat

“Olivia Darnley [gives a] memorable performance.” Lyn Gardner, the Guardian

“Darnley expertly conveys Rowena’s righteous rage.” Ben Lawrence, The Telegraph

“The excellent Olivia Darnley.” Aleks Sierz, Aleks Sierz

“A delightfully snobby Sophie Doherty.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Acting honours go to Sophie Doherty, working at a level rarely seen even on the largest and most sophisticated stage.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“Doherty transforms with ease from the haughty Jennifer to a sympathetic Irish policewoman.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Strong performances from Rob Ostlere…and Tessie Orange-Turner.” Keith McKenna, British Theatre Guide

“Strong performances.” Shanine Salmon, View From The Cheap Seat

“The acting is sensational.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“An impressive cast of six.” Keith McKenna, British Theatre Guide

“The cast are magnificent.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“Cass-Beggs, Ostlere and Killingback nail their parts.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Well directed by Melissa Dunne and equally well played by a first rate cast led by Olivia Darnley.” William Russell, Reviews Gate

“Well directed in Melissa Dunne’s interesting revival.” Aleks Sierz, Aleks Sierz

“An important reprise from Dunne. Yet again, Finborough Theatre’s daring pays off.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“The energy of the cast under Melissa Dunne’s tight direction and continued relevance of the themes give this play a new and modern lease of life.” Siân Rowland, London Pub Theatres “A brilliantly simple Verity Quinn ‘Adult Magazine Store’ set.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“Brilliantly designed by Verity Quinn.” Jeff Prestridge, Close-Up Culture

“Costume designer Leah Mulhern has sourced some fabulously authentic outfits.” Siân Rowland, London Pub Theatres

“Effective sharp yet shadowy lighting from Jack Coleman.” Steve Rich, Theatre Monkey

“A powerful story.” Paul in London

The Press on Masterpieces

“A very powerful evening of theatre…Daniels has established herself as a distinct voice with real theatrical flair.” Michael Coveney, Financial Times

“Ultimately powerful and deeply disturbing…I came out overwhelmed by the sincerity of Sarah Daniels's writing in her play Masterpieces, a play that finally adds up to the most persuasive argument I've heard for banning pornography.” – Manchester Evening News

“Almost three decades after its premiere, British playwright Sarah Daniels' daring dark comedy Masterpieces remains pertinent and powerful… Daniels casts a lacerating eye on the porn industry, suggesting its potentially devastating effects on individuals and society.” LA Theater Review

“The play has bite, anger and tenacity and many of its arguments are true…The supreme merit of Ms Daniels's combative work is that it makes me want to argue back.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A writer with a natural talent for disturbance ” The Observer

The press on director Melissa Dunne's production of Just to Get Married at the Finborough Theatre

‘Best Theatre Of 2017’ list, Susannah Clapp, The Observer

“Staged with wit and efficiency by Melissa Dunne.” Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Catch this now or risk waiting a century.” ★★★★ Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“This is a terrific production and, indeed, since it is the first in the UK since 1918, that is just as well. Melissa Dunne directs and keeps it moving.” ★★★★ The Times

“Cicely Hamilton’s forgotten feminist drama hits home.” ★★★★ The Observer

“Eminently worth reviving.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“A welcome rediscovery.” Julia Rank, The Stage

24 April - 19 May

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
7:30pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately two hours with one interval of fifteen minutes