On The Third Day (The Play's The Thing)

Previewed 14 June 2006, Opened 22 June 2006, Closed 29 July 2006 at the Ambassadors Theatre

The Play's The Thing - but which play will it be?... A West End production of a new play by a new, first time, British playwright, that has been chosen from over 2,000 submitted plays to television's Channel 4 programme The Play's The Thing this year. The winning entry, which was selected by the three judges - theatrical producer Sonia Friedman, literary agent Mel Kenyon and actor Neil Pearson - is One The Third Day by Kate Betts.

The first three episodes of the series was broadcast in May/June 2006 and will followed the writers as they discovered just how difficult it is to get a play produced in the West End. With help from a variety of theatre professionals their ideas where developed and one of them was selected to see their play staged. The fourth and final episode of the series focused on the run-up to the world premiere, with transmission scheduled to coincide with the play's opening night on 22 June 2006.

London. Alone and unattached. A young woman catches the eye of a stranger in a bar. Before the night has ended they will have told each other secrets that will change their lives forever. From the depths of underground caves to the infinite reaches of the solar system and into the shattered heart of a broken family.

The cast for One The Third Day in London features Maxine Peake as 'Claire', Tom McKay as her brother 'Robbie', Paul Hilton as 'Mike' and Tom Silburn as 'Elvis' with Benjamin Wilkin as 'Jesus / Waiter', Megan Ruddy / Daniella Wilson / Isabel Wroe Wright as 'Young Claire' and Jordan Clarke / Patrick Harper / James Wilson as 'Young Robbie'. The production is directed by Robert Delamere with designs by Mark Thompson, projections by Jon Driscoll, lighting by Paul Anderson and music and sound by Adam Cork. Production originally conceived by Steven Pimlott.

"Chosen from thousands for a full professional production, Kate Betts's play is about a busybody do-gooder who claims to be Jesus Christ coming into the life of a lonely and vulnerable woman who lives alone in South London. Betts described her play as being about schizophrenia, potholing and astronomy. What she omitted to mention was that it's also about incest and, given that it throws in a kitchen sink, it's simply trying to do far, far too much... Mark Thomson's computer animated set design amplifies the play's symbolism, with the sea and cosmos projected alternately on the back walls. Meanwhile, director Robert Delamere couldn't get more out of his actors. In particular, Maxine Peake throws herself into the role of the self-lacerating leading lady with a conviction and passion that is not sustained by the story. Like Channel Four's series, this is a play that's unlikely to be resurrected." The Daily Mail

"Sadly, it's less than the sum of its ambitions, which are to deal with trauma, grief, incest and the confusions of an infinitely vast universe and the almost equally complex world in which a bloke calling himself Jesus may actually be an environmental health officer named Mike, but just may be that ontological EHO, Jesus. Anyway, Maxine Peake's Claire turns out to be an amateur astronomer with a job at Greenwich Planetarium, which means that projections of stars surround the acting area, and her brother, Tom McKay's Robbie, works as a potholing guide, which brings ropes and helmets down onto a darkened stage. The symbolism doesn't seem subtle, especially when flashbacks to bereavement and lovemaking in the characters' childhood make their point. She longs to lift herself to the light; he skulks in the abyss, unable to escape." The Times

"Talent shows make great television and can discover singers, dancers and potential tabloid celebrities. Playwrights, however, are something else... 30-year-old Claire brings Mike, a weirdy-beardy, back to her flat, only to find him claiming he's Jesus. She has troubles as it is, with no mum and a dad who died while searching for her and her brother Robbie when they had bunked off. The siblings used to comfort one another with a game of 'film-star kisses', but it became dangerously incestuous and tore them apart. Claire attempts to get lost in space (she's mad about astronomy) and Robbie goes in the opposite direction, into the bowels of the Earth (he's a potholer), to no avail. Can Mike/Jesus or Elvis (yep, he's here, too) reconcile them? Kate Betts can write and has a vivid sense of the possibilities of theatre, and her talent deserves nurturing, just as old-timers Tom Stoppard and Alan Bennett are nurtured, in the subsidised theatre. But, as yet, On The Third Day is all over the place, too raw, too ragged and too full of Whistle Down The Wind whimsy for exposure in the brutal West End." The Mail on Sunday

One of the objects of the television series The Play's The Thing was to help get a new play produced in London's commercial West End. Sonia Friedman said: "Theatre critics constantly bemoan the fact that there are not enough new plays in the West End. I agree. Coming from a subsidised, new writing background but now working exclusively in the commercial sector, I find it frustrating that so few new plays premiere in the West End. The reason why is obvious: the financial risks are too high and the pressure to succeed is too intense. Therefore I am excited by the prospect of hunting for that exclusive new play from that first-time playwright, and then producing it to the highest standards and seeing if it is possible for the play to go on to enjoy critical and financial success."

The Play's The Thing: On The Third Day in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 14 June 2006, opened 22 June 2006 and closed on 29 July 2006.