After a record-breaking run at Park Theatre, and huge critical and public acclaim, Jonathan Maitland’s debut play, DEAD SHEEP, directed by Ian Talbot OBE, will tour the UK from 5 September – 28 November 2016. Steve Nallon will return to the production to star as ‘Margaret Thatcher’, having portrayed her for many years on the political puppetry satire Spitting Image. Further casting to be announced.
It is 1989 and a seemingly invincible Prime Minister has sacked her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, thinking she had nothing to fear from him; his speaking skills had, famously, been compared to those of a dead sheep. But inspired by his wife Elspeth – a formidable and witty feminist, whose relationship with Thatcher was notoriously frosty – Howe overcame his limitations to destroy Mrs Thatcher’s political career…and also his own.
Dead Sheep portrays the true story of how Mrs. Thatcher, the most divisive Prime Minister of modern times, was brought down by her one time friend and political soul mate Geoffrey Howe. Using imagined dialogue to portray private scenes between the main protagonists, it recreates the events leading up to Howe’s famous 1990 speech, in which he criticised Thatcher for undermining policies on economic and monetary union in Europe, ultimately leading to her downfall and resignation. Dead Sheep is the result of two years’ research, during which the playwright gained access to Geoffrey Howe himself and other prominent politicians and advisers of the era.
Jonathan Maitland said, “The themes of ‘Dead Sheep’ are, uncannily, as relevant now as they were 26 years ago : a Government bitterly split over Europe, old friends at loggerheads, careers on the line and our country’s future at stake. I’m delighted – it’s a perfect recipe for drama and comedy.”
Jonathan Maitland is a broadcaster and writer. He reported for Radio 4’s Today programme in the 1990s, before co-presenting BBC1’s Watchdog and ITV 1’s House of Horrors. He has presented ITV1’s flagship current affairs show, Tonight, for the last 16 years. He has interviewed, amongst others, Tony Blair, Madonna, Henry Kissinger and Bob Geldof and written for all the national newspapers. He has authored five books, including a best-selling memoir How To Survive Your Mother and Vote For Who?. His co-written screenplay about the footballer Stanley Matthews has been optioned and is in development. Dead Sheep was his debut play at Park Theatre, which was then followed by the highly controversial An Audience with Jimmy Savile, starring Alistair McGowan, which went on to smash his existing box office record. His third play at the venue, Deny Deny Deny, will tackle doping in sport, will open in November.
Steve Nallon plays ‘Margaret Thatcher’. In 1984 Steve became a founding member of the Spitting Image team and it aired until 1996. Although he became most famous for providing the voice of Thatcher, he also voiced many of the show’s other characters, including ‘The Queen Mother’, ‘Alan
Bennett’ and ‘David Attenborough’. His other stage credits include Cissie and Ada, An Hysterical Rectomy (UK tour) and Carnival (Barbican), his television work includes Jonathan Creek and TV Burp and he appeared in the film 51 Degrees North in 2015.
Ian Talbot directs. He was Artistic Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until 2008, where his directing credits include Babes In Arms, The Fantasticks, Kiss Me Kate, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Oh, What A Lovely War, High Society, H.M.S. Pinafore (all nominated for Olivier Awards). His other directing credits include The Mousetrap (St Martin’s Theatre), Yeoman of the Guard (Savoy Theatre), High Society (Shaftesbury Theatre and UK tour) and Lend Me A Tenor (Gielgud Theatre). He has also acted at the RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and in the West End. In 2007 he was awarded OBE for services to drama.
UK TOUR DATES
SEP 5 DONCASTER CAST THEATRE
SEP 12 WESTCLIFF PALACE THEATRE, SOUTHEND
SEP 19 NORTHAMPTON THEATRE ROYAL
SEP 26 BIRMINGHAM REP
OCT 3 SHREWSBURY SEVERN THEATRE
OCT 10 CARDIFF NEW THEATRE
OCT 17 COVENTRY BELGRADE THEATRE
OCT 31 EXETER NORTHCOTT THEATRE
NOV 7 EASTBOURNE DEVONSHIRE PARK
NOV 14 MALVERN FESTIVAL THEATRE
NOV 21 GUILDFORD YVONNE ARNAUD
NOV 28 BROMLEY CHURCHILL THEATRE