Feelgood

Previewed 25 January 2001, Opened 31 January 2001, Closed 10 March 2001 at the Hampstead Theatre
Previewed 21 April 2001, Opened 26 April 2001, Closed 27 October 2001 at the Garrick Theatre

The acclaimed Hampstead Theatre production of Alistair Beaton's new political comedy Feelgood in London

Itís party conference time, and in the leaderís hotel suite, the spin doctors are sweating over the Prime Ministerís speech. With public opinion increasingly volatile, thereís panic at the top. This time itís all got to be perfect.

But in the same hotel a journalist is piecing together a scandal that is so far-reaching that it could keep the party out of power for a generation. Can the story be killed? Can the journalist be bought off? And exactly how far will a government go to save itself and come up smelling of roses?

The cast at London's Hampstead Theatre and the West End's Garrick Theatre featured Henry Goodman as 'Eddie', Nigel Planer as 'George', Sian Thomas as 'Liz', Jeremy Swift as 'Paul' (at Hampstead), Peter Capaldi as 'Paul' (at Garrick), Amita Dhiri as 'Asha', Pearce Quigley as 'Simon', Nigel Cooke as 'DL' (at Hampstead), and Jonathan Cullen as 'DL' (at Garrick).

Directed by Max Stafford-Clark, with designs by Julian McGowan, lighting by Joanna Town, and sound by Simon Baker.

Henry Goodman's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Billy Flynn' in the original cast of Walter Bobbie's revival of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in 1997; 'Nathan Detroit' in Richard Eyre's revival of Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1996; 'Buddy Fidler'/'Irwin S Irving' in Michael Blakemore's production of Cy Coleman and David Zippel musical City of Angels at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1993; and 'Rocky Gravo' in Ray Herman's They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, based on the novel by Horace McCoy, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Mermaid Theatre in 1987.

Nigel Planer's London theatre credits include the role of 'Amos Hart' in the original cast of Walter Bobbie's revival of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in 1997.

Sian Thomas' London theatre credits include the roles of 'Goneril' Yukio Ninagawa's revival of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the Barbican Theatre in 1999; 'Helga' in Abigail Morris' revival of Diane Samuels' Kindertransport at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1996; 'Yelena' in Peter Egan and Kenneth Branagh's revival of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in 1991; 'Celimene' in Paul Unwin's revival of Moliere's The Misanthrope at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1989; and 'Miss Clara Eynsford-Hill' in David William's revival of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at the Shaw Theatre in 1980.

"Structurally it transends, or atleast ignores, sitcom priorities of same faces on a single set. We go from the hotel bedroom where Henry Goodman as spin doctor Eddie is brilliantly manipulating the leader's keynote speech, to his ex-partner journalist's subversive nest along the corridor, to the podium of the Blairite PM's address... Henry Goodman repeats his outrageous take on Alastair Campbell, trampling on mobile phones, throttling his ex (brilliant Sian Thomas) with access on the seat of power and carrying on like a Petticoat Lane street trader with an integrity bypass... Take from it what you will. But enjoy this invigorating night out while you can." The Daily Mail

"Alistair Beaton's play is bang on the money... Nigel Planer is a hoot as the dripping wet Cabinet minister panicking about a crop of genetically modified hops that has caused the beer drinkers of Britain to grow bosoms. Sian Thomas is the doomed journalist ex-girlfriend of the PM's chief of spin - a figure of Machiavellian evil lovingly portrayed by the great Henry Goodman. And then there's the PM's gag-writer - a hopelessly irrelevant Ben Elton-type played by Pearce Quigley - forever locked in the lavatory. There have been worthier attacks on politicians by dramatists. But none, surely, has gone for the throat like this one. A painful must for anyone in government; a terrific cackle for the rest of us." The Daily Express

"Every moment Henry Goodman is on stage (which is pretty near every moment of Feelgood) playing a Labour prime minister's press secretary, he is a pleasure to watch... But although Henry Goodman can make us happy, he cannot make us deaf and blind. Alistair Beaton's play, though an improvement over David Hare's smug bleating or David Edgar's arid sermons, sadly demonstrates once more that political drama in this country renders its authors sheepish and paralytic. During a party conference, the press secretary Eddie is working with a speechwriter when a dim peer confesses his part in a GM crop scandal... We can't really believe the scandal would topple the government as Eddie says, but enough goodwill and comic momentum have been built up for us to roll with it. The second half, though, is just slacker, lamer farce." The Independent

"Theatrical history was made last night when Tony Blair was impersonated, while his political credo and policies were ridiculed in Alistair Beaton's devastating satirical farce. Mrs Wilson's Diary, in 1967, and Anyone for Dennis during the Thatcher years were tame, apolitical romps by comparison... Feelgood certainly has a farcical framework and wild flights of fancy and fantasy abound. But its satirical shafts hit home... The climactic scene, when Jonathan Cullen's Blair look-and-voice-alike delivers an opportunist conference speech of glutinous insincerity, is sheer comic bliss. New Labour is memorably savaged for betraying old principles, for fixing and making dissent a forbidden luxury. Henry Goodman's Eddie, a dynamo of sizzling energy, charges this triumphant comedy with telling menace." The London Evening Standard

Feelgood in London at the Garrick Theatre previewed from 21 April 2001, opened on 26 April 2001, and closed on 27 October 2001