Rose Theatre Kingston, The Original Theatre Company and Karl Sydow today announce the first major UK revival of Stephen Jeffreys’ Valued Friends, directed by Michael Fentiman. The production opens at Rose Theatre Kingston as part of their autumn season on 26 September, with previews from 20 September, and runs until 12 October.
It’s 1980s London and change is happening. The city is ablaze with social, political and cultural upheaval and, in a basement flat in Earls Court, four friends in their mid-thirties are scrabbling to keep their heads above water.
Housemates for more than 10 years, Sherry is a hapless, quirky comedian; Paul, a keen music journalist; Marion, a straight-talking realist; and Howard, an earnest academic writing about the corruption of capitalism. The friends are thrown unexpectedly into a battle of nerves when a young, confident property developer offers them a substantial fee to vacate their home in West London.
Spurred on by the revolutions of their time, they quickly realise that they hold all the cards in this real-life game of Monopoly and over the course of three years, they manipulate a burgeoning property market one cup of tea at a time.
Stephen Jeffreys’ play was an instant classic when first performed at Hampstead Theatre in 1989. It won the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright, with a cast that featured Peter Capaldi, Martin Clunes, Jane Horrocks, and Tim McInnerny.
Valued Friends is a compelling comedy drama set to the soundtrack of 1980’s London and against the backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain. This production directed by Michael Fentiman will be the first revival of the play in 30 years.
Stephen Jeffreys’ wife, actor and director Annabel Arden, said today, “I met Stephen in 1997 and have never seen a production of Valued Friends. For people who did see the two celebrated productions, it is very often their favourite play and they all say how hilarious, sad and incredibly prophetic it is. When I read it, I laughed-out-loud and I am really astonished at how relevant it is to today’s turbulent economic and political climate. Stephen’s sons and I are so thrilled that there will now be a chance to see the play again. Stephen, the most generous of men, would be happy to know that the play which launched his career will be the first to be revived after his death, and so launch his legacy.”
Stephen Jeffreys (1950 – 2018) was an internationally-acclaimed playwright and winner of the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. His theatre credits include The Clink (Paines Plough), The Libertine (Royal Court Theatre), A Jovial Crew (Royal Shakespeare Company), A Going Concern (Hampstead Theatre), I Just Stopped by to See the Man (Royal Court Theatre) and Bugles at the Gates of Jalalabad (Tricycle Theatre). For film his credits include The Libertine and Diana.
Michael Fentiman directs. His previous theatre credits include Amelie: The Musical (UK tour), The Taming of the Shrew (Sherman Theatre/Tron Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Vaudeville Theatre), The Last Days of Anne Boleyn (Historic Royal Palaces/Tower of London), Loot (Park Theatre/Watermill Theatre), The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, Ahasverus (Royal Shakespeare Company), Babe, the Sheep-Pig (Polka Theatre/UK tour), The War Has Not Yet Started (Drum Theatre, Plymouth), Minotaur (Theatr Clwyd /Polka Theatre), Raising Martha (Park Theatre), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Kensington Palace Gardens, as Co-director with Rupert Goold), Crackers (Belgrade Coventry), Spoonface Steinberg (Theatr Clwyd/Glasgow Citizens/UK tour), East (UK tour),Ajax (Cyprus tour), The Comedy of Errors, Robin Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk (Cambridge Arts Theatre), Sweeney Todd (RAM/Theatre Royal Stratford East), and Made in Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre, as Associate Director to Rupert Goold).