The League of Gentlemen - A Local Show For Local People

Previewed 12 March, Opened 13 March 2001, Closed 21 April 2001 at the Drury Lane Theatre Royal in London

The multi award-winning comedy team The League of Gentlemen - Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith - return to their stage roots with a major live show which comes to London following a UK regional tour that started in October 2000.

A Local Show For Local People This ambitious show presents the most popular characters from the BBC2 series, as well as brand new material specially written for these performances. The evening will be divided into two halves. The first will take the form of a kind of League of Gentlemen - Unplugged similar to their original stage style - fast-paced, minimal props and a dazzling range of hilarious characters. The second half will bring the phantasmagoria of Royston Vasey to vivid life as audiences get the chance to meet such favourites as Pauline, Hilary Briss, the Denton family, Dr Chinnery and of course local shopkeepers Tubbs and Edward.

For fans of the show this will be the first chance to see The League Of Gentlemen in action since the unprecedented success of their television series. The League of Gentlemen started life on the London Fringe with a sketch-show first performed at the Cockpit Theatre in 1995. They then secured a weekly residency at the Canal Café Theatre, which led to their first visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1996. Here they were quickly signed up by the BBC to record a radio series with a view to future TV work. They returned to Edinburgh with a new show in 1997, scooping the Perrier Award for Comedy. Their Radio 4 series, On the Town with the League of Gentlemen aired in 1997, winning the Sony Silver Award and subsequently a Talkie Award for Best Audio Comedy. The League's first television series called The League of Gentlemen transmitted on BBC2, to great critical acclaim, in January 1999. The programme won the Golden Rose of Montreux and the RTS award for 'best entertainment' 1999. The second series of The League of Gentlemen, which won further critical praise, aired in January 2000. Recently The League won a BAFTA award for 'Best Comedy 2000' (for series one).

"The sketch trio's gallery of grotesques - all demented, serial-killing shopkeepers and unhinged, child molesting teachers - could hardly be called uplifting. But for all that, the observation scarcely does justice to a troupe who have brought a welcome dose of darkness to the often blandly sunny world of comedy. The League's currency is violence and bullying, pain and despair... And for a comedy show, it contains an awful lot of weeping. It's the Theatre of Cruelty - played for laughs... Thanks to a fanatically devoted audience and some familiar material, the show also had a tendency to slip into cultiness... Theirs is a brand of humour that actually lives up to that overused epithet 'unique'. Which other act would raise laughs from a sketch involving a deranged toad-fancier who forces his unsuspecting nephew to copy his beloved creature by drinking his own urine for breakfast? It's comedy, Jim, but not as we know it." The Independent

"The first half of the Drury Lane show consists of TV sketches. The second half is set in the mythical Northern village of Royston Vasey. Familiar characters flit in and out - familiar to the fans, at least, who greet them with rapture. Some of the items are brilliant... some of the characters are unforgettable... but unless you are an initiate, the more Pythonesque episodes may well strike you as pointless, and one or two of the cruder scenes are plain deplorable." The Sunday Telegraph

"The League of Gentlemen's career has been a curious one. From jovial sketches to darker radio series, and finally to the quasi-psychotic TV show that lifted the roof off houses in the fictional Royston Vasey and let all the worms crawl out, each move they make seems to get scarier... Which could be why they have gone back to their roots in this live show and played it for big boom-boom laughs. The first half reprises the 1997 Perrier award-winning material that broke the boys... Frustratingly, however, the crowd at Drury Lane responds weakly, clearly waiting for their favourites. Then the second half cuts in and they go wild. It kicks off where the TV series ended, with Tubbs's and Edward's souls flying away from their burning shop in search of redemption... For the stage, performances slide away from the menacing and towards burlesque, with innuendo the order of the day. And to cap it all, there is a happy(ish) ending." The Sunday Times

"It was the same story with Monty Python all those years ago at this same venue. You worshipped the ground they stood on, but the live gigs were over-miked travesties of the material they created. Much of the time the boys in this are in drag. The three sketches – out of several dozen – that hit home include a fine spoof of Sweeney Todd, an attack on northern playwrights, and a brilliantly creepy sketch about a tour guide down a cave. You can't deny the various talents of Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss, but it is a London show for London fans." The Daily Express

The League of Gentlemen in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane previewed from 12 March 2001, opened on 13 March 2001 and closed on 21 April 2001.