Spies and Cell Mates. Casting for Simon Gray comedy at Hampstead Theatre

Spies betray people. That’s what we do. It becomes a – a habit. Difficult to break – even when it’s not – not strictly necessary

Geoffrey Streatfeild and Emmet Byrne are to star in Simon Gray’s deftly funny play Cell Mates at Hampstead Theatre.

Last performed in 1995 Cell Mates will be directed by artistic director Edward Hall.

This absorbing drama is based on true events and explores how personal freedom is illusionary with even friendship having carefully circumscribed limits in a world where deception is a reflex response.

Geoffrey Streatfeild returns to Hampstead Theatre to play George Blake and will star opposite Emmet Byrne, who makes his London stage debut as Sean Bourke.

They will be joined by Philip Bird, Cara Horgan and Danny Lee Wynter.

Wormwood Scrubs Prison, London, 1961. One of Britain’s most notorious double agents, George Blake, is serving a 42 year sentence – that is, until he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Irish petty criminal, Sean Bourke.

Both men are eccentric outsiders, and each sees the possibility of escape – and not just from prison – through the other.

But once on the outside, can their mutual dependence survive the mounting pressures they face from MI5, from the KGB – and indeed from themselves?

Philip Bird’s theatre credits include Labyrinth (Hampstead Theatre), Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter/Hampstead Theatre), The Potsdam Quartet (Jermyn Street Theatre), Wild Oats (Bristol Old Vic) and The Cherry Orchard (Royal Lyceum).

For The Globe he has appeared in The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale and Troilus and Cressida.

Emmet Byrne’s recent theatre credits include Angela’s Ashes (Irish Tour),
Breaking Dad, Big Maggie (Gaity Theatre).

Cara Horgan’s theatre credits include The Mother (Bath Ustinov), Secret Theatre (Lyric Hammersmith), School for Scandal (Barbican), Far Away (Bristol Old Vic) and Pains of Youth (National Theatre).

Danny Lee Wynter’s theatre credits include Forty Years On (Chichester Festival Theatre), Comus, Bedlam, Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II, King Lear, The Frontline (The Globe), Much Ado About Nothing (The Old Vic).

Geoffrey Streatfeild’s theatre credits include Wild Honey (Hampstead Theatre), Young Chekhov: Ivanov and The Seagull, The Beaux Stratagem, Children of the Sun, Earthquakes in London, The Pains of Youth, The History Boys, Bacchae (National Theatre), My Night with Reg (Donmar Warehouse/West End), Macbeth, Copenhagen (Crucible Theatre), Henry V, Henry IV: Part 1, Henry IV: Part 2, Henry VI Part 1, 2 and 3, Richard III (RSC).

Cell Mates runs at Hampstead Theatre from November 30 – January 20.

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