Artful Theatre’s 50th anniversary production gives a fresh twist to the controversial (in its time) thriller, The Killing of Sister George, at the London Theatre Workshop this October.
First produced in 1965, Frank Marcus’ drama is a controversial, poignant and darkly funny exploration of emotional dependence and the gap between public perception and private reality.
Originally most famous for its undertones of domestic abuse and then-illegal lesbian relationships, this production now focuses on the ‘behind-the-scenes’ world at the BBC where perception is everything.
Recent revelations surrounding Jimmy Savile, national news stories about Jeremy Clarkson’s antics and the sacking of Tom Jones bring the work at W1A sharply into focus.
Was this iconic play an unwitting glimpse into the tawdry, sordid media world of the 1960s as it really was – and has anything really changed?
By day, June Buckridge has played the beloved and cheerful district nurse ‘Sister George’ in the popular radio soap Applehurst for six years, but that doesn’t stop BBC executives from killing her off.
By night, overbearing June swills gin, chews on cigars and vents her anger and frustration on her much younger flatmate, Childie.
But behind her fearsome exterior is a fragile, insecure woman all too aware of her fading power of attraction and terrified that her life is falling apart.
The death of a popular soap character is a regular occurrence in 2015 but back in 1954 there was a national outcry, and a healthy boost in the radio drama’s audience figures, when the character of Grace Archer was killed off in a stable fire in the BBC radio serial, The Archers.
Frank Marcus wrote The Killing of Sister George around a similar scenario for the stage and it became his most famous play.
Directed by Scott le Crass the cast is Janet Amsden, Sioned Jones, Briony Rawle and Sarah Shelton.
The Killing of Sister George runs at the London Theatre Workshop, SW6, from October 29-November 21.