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Previewed 12 April 2011, Opened 13 April 2011, Closed 28 May 2011 at the Duchess Theatre in London
A major revival of Mike Leigh's play Ecstasy in London at the Duchess Theatre for 50 performances only!
If you can't have a laugh and a drink on a Friday night, when can you? It's 1979, the Winter of Discontent is over and Margaret Thatcher's regime is about to transform the country. Old friends come together in a Kilburn bed-sit... loneliness, togetherness, longing, warmth, love... Ecstasy is compassionate, thoughtful and extremely funny.
The cast for Ecstasy in London features Sian Brooke as 'Jean', Sinead Matthews as 'Dawn', Allen Leech as 'Mick', Daniel Coonan, Claire-Louise Cordwell and Craig Parkinson. It is directed by Mike Leigh with designs by Alison Chitty, lighting by Paul Pyant and sound by John Leonard. This production transfers to London's West End following a season at the Hampstead Theatre in North London from March to April 2011.
"The title of Mike Leigh's 1979 play Ecstasy is a bit of a tease. It should really be called Agony or Despair, but that would doubtless make people stay away in their droves. And that would be a pity because Leigh is the master of miserabilism and this is a meticulous, devastating, absorbing and deeply compassionate study of life at the sharp end during the Winter of Discontent... Dingy lighting reveals Jean naked on her single bed after joyless sex with her lover Roy, who doesn't even stick around afterwards for a cup of tea. Jean pours herself another drink and lights another cigarette - anything to take the edge off the loneliness. Her old friend Dawn, who, like Jean, comes from Birmingham, has a very different temperament... Dawn's life certainly isn't a picnic, what with three children and a husband, Mick, who spends all the housekeeping money on alcohol and is frequently too hungover to do his labouring job. Still, she loves him and he loves her, and their togetherness protects them from everything. The wonderful chemistry between Dawn and Mick emerges in the lengthy second act when the couple, together with Jean and Len (one of her old flames who has come to London after the break-up of his marriage) get drunk and have a singalong. Jean's piercingly poignant rendition of Danny Boy almost breaks your heart and Len's smutty I Knew A Farmer is amusingly at odds with his otherwise courteous demeanour. In a final scene, a mirror of the opening one, Jean is in bed and Len gives her a chaste kiss before settling down to sleep in a chair. Not quite ecstasy but a chink of real hope - and a little here goes a very long way. Highly recommended." The Mail on Sunday
"[Mike Leigh] is sometimes accused of patronising the characters in Abigail's Party, but he clearly feels nothing but sympathy for Sian Brooke's Jean, the petrol-pump attendant who is first seen having sex with a man she dislikes and who is gradually revealed to be a lonely, compulsive drinker... Observing drunks when sober is usually excruciating, but here the cast is compelling." The Sunday Times
Ecstasy in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 12 April 2011, opened on 13 April 2011 and closes on 28 May 2011