Cool Hand Luke

Previewed 23 September 2011, Opened 3 October 2011, Closed 19 November 2011 at the Aldwych Theatre in London

A major stage production of Donn Pearce's Cool Hand Luke in London, adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves and starring Marc Warren.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, always play a real cool hand... In a powerful new stage adaptation by Emma Reeves, Donn Pearce's acclaimed novel comes alive on stage - Cool Hand Luke is the hard-hitting story of a World War II veteran turned convict and rebel, whose unquenchable spirit and refusal to be broken by the system becomes part of his fellow convicts' mythology of survival.

Beneath a scorching Florida sun, Boss Godfrey watches the chain gang. Keeps his eye on Cool Hand Luke. War hero, trouble-maker, inspiration to his fellow inmates. And just the man Boss wants to crush... Cool Hand Luke is the hard-hitting story of a true original. He'll play it real cool in the face of brutality. He'll always get back up after a beating. He'll eat fifty eggs in an hour, to win a bet. A man who won't conform no matter what it costs. It's a raw, uncompromising tale of sticking it to "The Man".

The cast for Cool Hand Luke in London features Marc Warren as 'Luke Jackson' AKA 'Cool Hand Luke' with Sandra Marvin, Tania Mathurin, Kenneth Jay, Tom Silburn, David Sturzaker, Joshua McCord, Michael Cuckson, Andrew Martyn-Lewis, Rob Falconer, Lee Boardman, Nathan Osgood, Richard Brake, Bret Jones, Rebecca Blackstone, Julie Rogers and Lisa Eichhorn. It is directed by Andrew Loudon with designs by Edward Lipscomb, lighting by Matthew Eagland, sound by John Leonard and flights by Philip d'Orleans. Marc Warren's recent theatre credits include playing 'Ray Say' in a revival of Jim Cartwright's The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2008. He is probably best known for his role as 'Danny Blue' in BBC TV Series Hustle and for the recent Sky TV drama Mad Dogs. Emma Reeves' West End stage adaptations include Nina Bawden's Carrie's War (Apollo Theatre 2009) which was also directed by Andrew Loudon and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (Duchess Theatre 2004).

"A potentially devastating story about one man's refusal to be beaten by an oppressive regime might also have been exploited for its implicit theme about the difficulties of adapting to civilian life after experiencing the brutalities of war. You won't find it in Andrew Loudon's punishingly plodding production, devoid of grit, atmosphere, tension or dramatic impact. The Florida sun that should be frying the convicts has a Mediterranean gentleness, and the muscle these guys put into their scything on the chain gang is less likely to work up a sweat than flicking a duster." The Mail on Sunday

"Marc Warren has a fundamental problem in the title role of Cool Hand Luke: he isn't very cool. The Mad Dogs star has, at best, an infinitesimal amount of the quality Paul Newman used to such effect in the 1967 film about a war hero who ends up as a member of a chain gang in Florida. Goodness knows, though, Andrew Loudon - the director of this galumphing stage adaptation - has gone out of his way to deprive his star of any opportunity to display it. At the end of the famous scene in which Luke has to consume 50 hard-boiled eggs for a bet, Warren's Luke breaks wind. Newman's Luke would never, of course, have done such a thing, as it isn't a terribly cool thing to do. The rest of the cast have it just as bad: they are forced to sweep their scythes through the air when there is nothing for them to cut; take part in comically unconvincing fight sequences; and have as props a snake and turtle that look as if they have been purchased at Hamleys. Cool? There are blast furnaces cooler than this." The Sunday Telegraph

"Emma Reeves's adaptation gives us short significant scenes separated by lighting and by the strolling-past of gospel singers with scraps of relevant pain... There are staging faults: the work-gang hoeing is glaringly unconvincing compared to the hard realism of the war flashback, and the brutalities too stagey for a generation used to horrid movie realism. Director Andrew Loudon could have found ways round that. But that's a quibble: it's a proper play, worth doing." The Times

Cool Hand Luke in London at the Aldwych Theatre previewed from 23 September 2011, opened on 3 October 2011 and closed on 19 November 2011 (was originally booking up to 7 January 2012.