Tag Archives: Eve Pearson – Wright



UK Tour

THE GIANT KILLERS at Wilton’s Music Hall


“This is a story of flat cap versus top hat, the salt of the earth against the posh and toffee-nosed and it’s firmly on the side of the underdog”

Falling firmly in the middle of the off-season with only the European Championships for football fans to keep an eye on, is a tour by The Long Lane Theatre Company of their own devised work all about the beautiful game. And it’s an excellent 90 minutes plus added time of entertainment.

This is the little-known story of Darwen FC from Lancashire and how they became the first team of working class lads to play in the FA Cup, then the prerogative of the privileged classes. Three memorable and bloody matches played at the Kensington Oval against the mighty Old Etonians are re-enacted and much is claimed for this little club including first use by the press of the term Giant Killers (100 years before Sutton United, this), first use of a substitute, and first involvement in a game by professional players (disputed!).

This is a story of flat cap versus top hat, the salt of the earth against the posh and toffee-nosed and it’s firmly on the side of the underdog.

Written in the style of narrative storytelling, the cast of four are equally excellent. Central to everything is Lucy (Eve Pearson-Wright), the beautiful, potty-mouthed publican who unofficially runs the football club and is in constant argument with her player brother and self-appointed Captain of the team Billy (Graham Butler). Robert Kirkham (Andrew Pearson-Wright) is a prodigal son returning to Darwin after a time away in Scotland where he has picked up controversial new ways of playing the game but is now looking to woo the love of his life. And posh-speaking James Ashton (Nicholas Shaw) is the son of the local mill owner, an old Harrovian who gets a say in the running of the team because he has bought them a set of shirts.

Designed for national tour (Designer Kevin Jenkins), the set is necessarily minimal: some cleverly designed cabinets boast hidden drawers, even a window, that open up to enhance different scenes, and ingenious use of moving benches provide a variety of options around the stage. But the actors’ movements are rather linear and at the stage edges sometimes are caught out of the light. Only when the football starts in earnest at the end of the first half and the forestage is brought into use is there any visual depth. But then things really work. Pearson-Wright and Butler especially excel in their high-octane match commentary and physical prowess. Slo-mo replays of an exhilarating dribble and shot on goal, or a goalkeeper’s save have the audience gasping and cheering (Movement Director Emily Holt).

This is a story with a lot of heart, superbly told. In a moment of tragedy Graham Butler beautifully sings a poignant Abide with Me, a funereal anthem with its own FA Cup connection. A couple of sub-plots involving rioting townsfolk and striking cotton mill workers could have been made more of but the premise that people that come together can achieve a common goal is uplifting and clearly made.

THE GIANT KILLERS at Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed on 27th June 2024

by Phillip Money



Click on image below for tour dates




Previously reviewed at this venue:

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM | ★★★★★ | April 2024
POTTED PANTO | ★★★★★ | December 2023
FEAST | ★★★½ | September 2023
I WISH MY LIFE WERE LIKE A MUSICAL | ★★★★★ | August 2023
EXPRESS G&S | ★★★★ | August 2023
THE MIKADO | ★★★★ | June 2023
RUDDIGORE | ★★★ | March 2023
CHARLIE AND STAN | ★★★★★ | January 2023
A DEAD BODY IN TAOS | ★★★ | October 2022
PATIENCE | ★★★★ | August 2022



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The Actress

The Actress


Edinburgh Festival Fringe

THE ACTRESS at Edinburgh Festival Fringe



The Actress


“Fans of theatre history, and of the Restoration stage, will enjoy this story, even if it doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the times”


The Long Lane Theatre Company presents The Actress as part of a three play offering at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. The Actress is set in 1660, just as the theatres are reopening in London thanks to the restoration of Charles Stuart as King of England. 1660 marks a watershed year in English history, but for theatre buffs it’s particularly important because it introduces a new kind of theatre in England. 1660 also marks the first time actresses appear on a London stage. Andrew Pearson-Wright, playwright and director, focuses not only on this latter historic event in The Actress, but on the rivalries between women competing to be that first actress. Pearson-Wright has clearly done a lot of research. The women he portrays, Margaret (Peg) Hughes, and her lesser known rival, Anne Marshall, are both scheming for the honour of being the first actress on the London stage.

Presented on a bare bones set in an imposing hall belonging to the University of Edinburgh, The Actress is rather overwhelmed by its surroundings. As is the story in this play. In focusing on the rivalry between actresses, Pearson-Wright leaves out some important details about the Restoration stage. Intriguing questions get left unanswered. Why is 1660 the time that women finally appear on English stages? And why would they want the job? Especially as it seems to be such an unpleasant occupation. According to Hughes’ patron Charles Sedley at any rate, the job of an actress, it seems, is more about being a sex worker, than being an artist. In The Actress, Peg Hughes is portrayed as a courtesan, used to this life. She’s traveled a bit in Europe, and seen women act on stage in France. She’s the sophisticate. Hughes’ rival Anne Marshall is the naïve young ingenue. Hughes, worried about losing her rich patrons as she ages, is looking for another source of income. She thinks acting might provide it. Marshall, in contrast, is presented as a young woman in love with Shakespeare’s plays, and determined to grace the world with her interpretation of Hermione in The Winter’s Tale.

The Actress presents a romantic idea of acting, more modern than Restoration. Modern audiences may relish the idea of two actresses competing for the honour of portraying Desdemona on stage for the first time, but audiences in 1660 wanted the witty, sexy dramas being written by the courtiers who surrounded Charles II, of whom Sedley was one. Shakespeare was already too old fashioned. There was a lot going on in this period of British theatre, and The Actress would be a deeper, more intriguing drama if more detail was provided.

For all the weaknesses of the script, however, there are some good performances in this show. Charlotte Price as Anne Marshall, and Eve Pearson-Wright as Peg Hughes, take centre stage and hold the attention. That’s quite a feat when the men alongside them (Andrew Loudon and Matthew Hebden) are chewing the scenery in an attempt to take over. Hattie Chapman also puts in a solid performance as Nell, a young woman who will do anything to be part of the theatre. If she’s who we think she is, (and the script never makes this clear) Nell will end up being a far more famous actress than Hughes or Marshall.

Fans of theatre history, and of the Restoration stage, will enjoy this story, even if it doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the times. The Actress has more than its fair share of anachronisms. For those who do enjoy them, however, there is the added bonus of hearing Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” being played on the lute as the show begins. Nice!



Reviewed 7th August 2022

by Dominica Plummer


Photography by Venus Raven


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