The Lady’s Not For Burning

by Christopher Fry

17 April – 12 May 2007

2007 marks the centenary of the birth of one of the UK’s best known verse playwrights – Christopher Fry. The multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre begins its poetryatthefinborough series with a major revival of his most famous work – The Lady’s Not for Burning.

England, 1400. Thomas Mendip, a discharged soldier weary of the world and eager to leave it, comes to a small town, announces he has committed murder and demands to be hanged. Much to his annoyance, the town’s Mayor and his officials oppose his request and instead are determined to hang Jennet, an attractive woman accused of witchcraft. Amidst the confusion of a local wedding and the dilemma of who will or won’t be hanged in the morning, an unlikely wooing takes place…

Originally produced in the West End 1949 with John Gielgud, Richard Burton and Claire Bloom, the production transferred to Broadway and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play has also been seen in a much-lauded production with Derek Jacobi and Eileen Atkins at the Old Vic in 1978, Chichester in 2002 and as a TV version starring Kenneth Branagh.

About The Playwright Christopher Fry

Christopher Fry (1907-2005) is best known as a major figure in the revival of verse in British theatre with such works as The Boy with the Cart (1938), A Phoenix Too Frequent (1946), The Firstborn (1946), Thor, with Angels (1949), The Dark is Light Enough (1954), Venus Observed (1950) and his translations of Jean Anouilh and French playwrights. He also wrote or collaborated on several screenplays including the movie of Ben Hur.

About The Director Walter Sutcliffe

Director Walter Sutcliffe has directed theatre and opera in the UK, Germany, Austria and The Czech Republic, including Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden in Vienna and Strindberg’s The Great Highway for the Gate Theatre, London. He has directed revivals of Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung for the Czech National Theatre and the Deutsche Oper am Rhien, and was Associate Director on the Lyric Opera Chicago’s Il Trovatore. He has worked at many of Europe’s leading theatres including Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Theater an der Wien, Bayreuth, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where he was Assistant Director to Richard Jones on the 2004 production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

About doublethink theatre

Previous productions from doublethink theatre include Alexander Ostrovsky’s A Family Affair at the Arcola Theatre and The Revenger’s Tragedy in a new adaptation by Meredith Oakes at Southwark Playhouse.
Mark Puddle is the Creative Producer behind the international touring company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

About poetryatthefinborough

poetryatthefinborough is a new series of verse plays celebrating verse in the theatre including major works from Christopher Fry, Robert McLennan and our new Playwright-in-Residence, Peter Oswald, as well as an Autumn series of the work of famous and obscure poets reinvented in a theatrical setting.

The Press on Previous Productions of The Lady's Not For Burning

“A poetic fantasy of rare splendour and delight…a work of magical humour and deep beauty.” New York Herald Tribune

“A remarkable play…Fry is one of the most prominent examples from the last century of once mighty theatrical figures subsequently all but forgotten in terms of performance.” Financial Times

“Fry's medieval setting, rich verbal conceits and self-puncturing irony delighted audiences, and the play became the flagship for the revival of poetic drama.” The Guardian

The Press on The Lady's Not For Burning

“The production shows that Fry’s 50-year-old lyrical drama stands the test of time.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“This play still has the power to charm.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“In our own miserabilist, me-centred times, there is something refreshing about Fry's comic spirit.”  Michael Billington, The Guardian

“This excellent Earl's Court theatre launches a season of verse-drama with Christopher Fry's once-famous 1948 comedy which conquered the West End and Broadway.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The Finborough is once again to be congratulated for reviving a play that should remain in the canon, both as a reminder of a past time and as a poetically written, often very witty play with hidden depths.” Richard Woulfe, UK Theatre Network

“Intelligent, entertaining drama.” Claire Ingrams, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Fry's unstoppable verbal delight.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“There are many delightfully funny moments.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“Christopher Fry’s The Lady’s Not for Burning (1948) is an extraordinary verse-drama from a period of British theatre that is too often dismissed as the twilight hour of drawing-room comedy, ripe for destruction by the mighty realism of the kitchen sink." Claire Ingrams, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Fry's pun-filled, semi-Shakespearean poetry may no longer be fashionable, but it has an exuberant charity that makes it irresistible.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The romping delight in words concealing a shrewd, sly, earthy view of the world that is completely modern.” Claire Ingrams, Rogues and Vagabonds

“The impressive cast does justice to Fry’s clever phrasing.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“What makes the play so popular is the Shakespearean feel to the language, and how this language is conducive to good acting. Here the cast of eleven do not disappoint.” Richard Woulfe, UK Theatre Network

“Gay Soper shines as Margaret Devize.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“I particularly liked Gay Soper as a Lady-Bracknell-type mother, Raymond Boot as a confused easy-going chaplain, and Michael Kirk as the menacing Justice of the Peace.” Richard Woulfe, UK Theatre Network

“Gay Soper makes an icily civil dowager.” Caroline McGinn, Time Out

“Dan Starkey and Morgan Brind are wonderfully repulsive.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“Morgan Brind and Dan Starkey are well cast as the stumpy, knavish brothers.” Caroline McGinn, Time Out

“Raymond Boot gives a superb comic performance as the Chaplain.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“I particularly enjoyed Raymond Boot’s off-the-wall Chaplain, in love with his lute and Gay Soper as the Mayor’s sister Margaret Devize.” Claire Ingrams, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Neatly eccentric performances from Michael Kirk as a bustling justice, Gay Soper as a swooping lady of the manor and Raymond Boot as melancholic chaplain.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Andrew McBean, Raymond Boot and Michael Kirk make venal, sentimental, and Machiavellian fun out of the Mayor, the Chaplain and the Justice.” Caroline McGinn, Time Out

“Grant Gillespie and Gemma Larke lend this central love-scene the right comic romanticism.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Michael Kirk’s sneering, devious Tappercoom.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“Patrick Myles is an appealing Richard.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“Andrew Macbean a suitably blustering Mayor Tyson.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“Walter Sutcliffe's production…highlights the play's cheerfulness.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“Pacy direction from Walter Sutcliffe.” Kate Britten, The Stage

“Walter Sutcliffe’s brisk direction.” Caroline McGinn, Time Out

“Verse-drama’s time may be coming again.” Claire Ingrams, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Fry’s heyday spanned just these brief few years, before Osborne’s Look Back In Anger (1956) muscled verse drama into the theatrical backwater where it has pretty much remained ever since – making the Finborough’s initiative all the more valuable.” Claire Ingrams, Rogues and Vagabonds

“Anna Jones’ design…conveys the period expertly and provides lavish looking costumes.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

17 April – 12 May 2007

Tickets and Times

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

Approximately 2 hours