The Last of the Pelican Daughters opens tour at Royal & Derngate

Following preview performances in Northampton in July and a successful Edinburgh Festival Fringe run at the Pleasance Beyond last summer, award-winning theatre company The Wardrobe Ensemble’s co-production of The Last of the Pelican Daughters returns to Royal & Derngate this spring as part of the Made in Northampton season and ahead of a UK tour.

The production follows on from The Wardrobe Ensemble and Royal & Derngate’s previous collaboration, The Scotsman Fringe First Award and The Stage Edinburgh Award-winning, smash-hit production Education, Education, Education, which enjoyed its West End debut at Trafalgar Studios last summer. Created as part of Royal & Derngate’s Resident Ensemble programme and developed in partnership with Complicité, The Last of the Pelican Daughters takes to Royal & Derngate’s Royal stage in a newly extended 90 minute version from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 March, before touring the UK.

In folklore, pelican mothers feed their young on their own blood.

In 2020 four sisters are trying to divide their mother’s house between them. Joy wants a baby, Storm wants to be seen, Sage just wants to remember, Maia doesn’t want anyone to find out her secret and Granny’s in a wheelchair on day release. Mum’s presence still seeps through the ceiling and the floors. The Pelican Daughters are home for the last time.

The Wardrobe Ensemble use their trademark irreverent humour and lovable characters to tackle the idea of what it means for young people to grapple with inheritance, loss and justice in this comedy about four sisters trying to come to terms with their mother’s death.

Wardrobe Ensemble regulars Tom England, Emily Greenslade, Kerry Lovell, Jesse Meadows and James Newton reprise their roles from the Edinburgh run, with Sally Cheng, Laurie Jamieson and Beatrice Scirocchi joining the cast for the tour.

Tom Brennan, Member of The Wardrobe Ensemble, said: “The Wardrobe Ensemble are our second family. We squabble, play and discuss the world with all the intensity of a group of siblings, so to make our version of a family drama felt like an amazing opportunity. It’s about what we inherit from our past, what we choose to bring into the future and the difficulty of getting along when the outside world gets in the way of compassionate thinking.

We are thrilled to have been reunited with Royal & Derngate in Northampton who co-commissioned Education, Education, Education in 2017. James Dacre and his staff provided us with so much support and knowledge last time, allowing us to develop a show for the mid-scale. For a theatre of this calibre to be taking a risk on an unconventional company like The Wardrobe Ensemble is very brave and we love them for taking that risk.

This was such a terrifying show for us to begin making, both in content and scale. But Complicité gave us permission to think bigger, deeper and over a long time period.  It’s felt amazing to make this complex and emotional show with the knowledge and experience of our favourite theatre company. If The Wardrobe Ensemble feel like a group of siblings, Complicité feel like our protective parents in the best way.”

Royal & Derngate’s Artistic Director, James Dacre, said: “Three years ago this brilliant young company made their main stage debut at Royal & Derngate with a production they developed over many months with our partner schools in Northamptonshire. We’re delighted that they joined us as one of our four Resident Ensemble companies to develop The Last of the Pelican Daughters and work across the organisation in supporting our communities. We are very pleased to be partnering with Complicité – one of the world’s great ensembles – on producing this show.”

Polly Gifford, Executive Director of Complicité said: “The Wardrobe Ensemble intrigued us from the outset. Alongside their obvious talent, they embody many of the values that have underpinned Complicité’s work for 35 years, including their commitment to storytelling and ensemble working, which made them a company we wanted to get to know. Our relationship has been exciting and stimulating, and it’s wonderful to see the work we’ve supported come to fruition with ‘The Last of the Pelican Daughters’ in partnership with Royal & Derngate Northampton.”  

The Last of the Pelican Daughters is directed by The Wardrobe Ensemble’s Jesse Jones and Tom Brennan.

Developed with Complicité: supporting the next generation of theatre makers. The Wardrobe Ensemble are part of the Royal & Derngate Resident Ensemble programme. In association with Bristol Old Vic and The Pleasance.

Royal & Derngate’s Made in Northampton season is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jeweller.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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