Previewed 19 June 2004, Opened 29 June 2004, Closed 31 July 2004 at the Gielgud Theatre in London
Imogen Stubbs' debut play We Happy Few starring Juliet Stevenson, Patsy Palmer and Kate O'Mara and directed by Trevor Nunn.
At a time when the world is without men, and the country is ravaged by war, a motley and eccentric collection of women bring strength, courage and Shakespeare to a nation suffering from complete dramatic famine. We Happy Few charts the true wartime history of the Osiris Players, who embarked on a cultural crusade touring Britain in their battered 1920s Rolls Royce, performing a repertory of Shakespeare's Plays to those in need of diversion and delight. We Happy Few is touching and witty play that reveals how these unlikely women survive to become unconventional heroes.
The cast for We Happy Few in London features Juliet Stevenson as 'Hetty' (except from 2 to 28 August 2004), Patsy Palmer as 'Charlotte', Kate O'Mara as 'Helen', Marcia Warren as 'Flora' and Caroline Blakiston as 'Jocelyn' with Paul Bentley as 'Reggie', Emma Darwall-Smith as 'Ros', Adam Davy as 'Joseph', Rosemary McHale as 'Gertrude' and Cat Simmons as 'Ivy'. Directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Henry Metcalfe, designs by John Napier, costumes by Elise Napier and lighting by David Hersey. Please Note: Suggested age 13+
"We Happy Few is the first script by classical actress Imogen Stubbs, who has come up with that current rarity, a tragi-comedy which celebrates the art of theatre itself... This is far and away the funniest, and saddest, backstage play we have had in the half-century since 42nd Street or Harlequinade, and it offers total entertainment - a cast of 12 who remind you what separates theatre from cinema or radio or TV. And, amazingly, it is all true... Stubbs tries to find a way to bring it all together and in the end she triumphantly does... Sometimes clumsy, often rambling and random, We Happy Few is still the contemporary play to which I would guide any student of Shakespeare or theatre generally - anyone who has ever wondered why it all matters, or if it's not just all hopelessly dated rather than timeless. The Daily Express
"A writer's first play making the West End is as unlikely as seeing a pig flying up Shaftesbury Avenue. Unless, of course, the author is Imogen Stubbs, who happens to be the wife of theatrical supremo Trevor Nunn, who also directs the play. We Happy Few is a fictionalised tribute to Britain's first all-female theatre troupe, dedicated to touring Shakespeare, in an old Rolls-Royce, to 'nurture the souls' of Brits in the Second World War... Passionate as I am about the importance of the theatre in our lives, I found this interminable celebration of sisterhood and luvviedom both over-earnest and sick-makingly sentimental. Part of the problem is that it rambles on and on, seldom surprising and rarely amusing... Its heart is in the right place, but the art is nowhere to be seen." The Mail on Sunday
"Sometimes even the starriest constellation of talents gets it wrong: Juliet Stevenson in the lead, the husband-and-wife team of Trevor Nunn as director and Imogen Stubbs as writer ... but hang on, Stubbs is an actress, isn't she? Well, this is her first play, and it shows. Having discovered the marvellous true story of Nancy Hewins and the Osiris Company, an all-woman troupe that took theatre to schools and village halls, and whose finest hour was the second world war, Stubbs puts Stevenson in charge of an imaginary clutch of similarly eccentric players. With no sense of wartime diction, Stubbs crams the script with old theatre jokes and opportunities for coarse acting." The Sunday Times
We Happy Few in London at the Gielgud Theatre previewed from 19 June 2004, opened on 29 June 2004 and closed on 31 July 2004.