Homeless bookworm a VIP guest at Tabard Theatre’s Sheltered premiere


A London theatre has invited a homeless man to the opening of its Christmas production after the show’s writer was inspired by the character.

Matty is a well-known face sitting, with his nose in a book, under the bridge outside Turnham Green tube station in west London.

He made such an impact on playwright Greg A Smith that a fictional character in Sheltered, which opens on November 18 at Chiswick’s Tabard Theatre, is based on the itinerant book worm.

Sheltered is about a family that takes in a homeless person on Christmas Day.

Said Greg: “While working in Chiswick, I would often walk past a homeless man under the rail bridge next to Turnham Green station who would always – always – be reading a book.

“This image formed the seed from which the character of Rory grew – the literate, homeless, man who defies the expectations of the seemingly benevolent but patronizing family who take him in for Christmas.

“I just hope that the real “Rory” has never had to experience what I’ve put my fictional Rory through”.

Co-producer, Richard Ings, added: “The man is called Matthew (or Matty) and is still to be found there on a regular basis, reading various novels usually donated by passers-by.

“He is quite well-known and well recognised in the area. We have invited him to the show, and he has said he will come.

“As it happens, the fact that the show will be taking place 100 yards from where he sits is a happy coincidence, but obviously one we’re pleased about”.

Against the Grain Theatre Company’s drama is a dark satire about the homeless and the heartless, packed with action, thrills and laughs for the festive season.
It’s Christmas Day and middle class couple Harry and Tamsin, plus daughter Jenna, invite young homeless man Rory into their home.

Presents are opened; parlour games played; parsnips and sprouts prepared.

But it soon becomes obvious that Rory is no typical rough sleeper.

And when Harry’s arch-nemesis Donald and his wife Marissa arrive, accompanied by their own homeless guest, what initially appears to be an act of faintly-patronising charity, reveals itself as something much less festive, but much more exciting – and dangerous.

No-one present will escape unscathed and unchanged from the ultimate disastrous family Christmas.

The cast is Phoebe Batteson-Brown, Mike Duran, Sarah Hannah, Michael Longhi, Jim Mannering, Simon Mitelman and Nikki Squire.

Sheltered runs from November 18-December 6 at the Tabard Theatre, Bath Road.

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