Peter Bowles heads madcap comedy Stop!…the Play


Stage and screen star Peter Bowles heads the cast for a madcap comedy, Stop!…the Play, opening in the West End next month.

David Spicer’s romp, with more than a passing nod to Frayn’s classic farce Noises Off, goes behind the scenes to show what happens when the worst night in a theatre becomes the most hilarious play in town.

Act 1 is set in the rehearsal room as five neurotic actors, one inexperienced director and an overworked stage manager, battle with the task of mounting what is surely the world’s most terrible play. Act 2 is the hysterically chaotic first night.

The production starts out as a worthy (if slightly dull) English kitchen sink drama, The Dark Heart of Art, about a struggling artist.

But then daily rewrites start arriving from the persistently absent writer. Characters are cut, new characters are introduced… everything changes from day to day. The cast battles to keep up.

Instead of making the play better, the rewrites make it worse, and crazier. The Dark Heart of Art becomes a shockingly sexual pseudo-psycho drama called Banksy Ain’t Gay – a masterclass in appalling modern playwriting.

Anyone who has ever sat through anything which describes itself as ‘edgy’, ‘experimental’, ‘controversial’ or ‘shocking’ will recognise it with a shudder.

The cast features Adam Riches (2011 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner) as The Leading Man, Peter Bowles (To the Manor Born) as The Seasoned Veteran, Tosin Cole (Hollyoaks) as The Hollywood Cameo, Hatty Preston (The Royals) as The Leading Lady, Hannah Stokely (Skyfall) as The Perennial Co-star, Charlie Cameron (National Theatre Macbeth) as The Stage Manager and Ben Starr (Survivor) as The Director.

David Spicer has written stand-up and TV material for comedians including Jasper Carrott, Armstrong & Miller and Michael Barrymore.

His extensive radio writing includes the acclaimed sitcom Double Income No Kids Yet with David Tennant and Kind Hearts & Coronets with Alistair McGowan.

Spicer’s first stage play, God Save the Mad Parade, is out on national tour early next year.

Stop!…The Play will preview in The Studio at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, May 26-30. It opens at Trafalgar Studio 2, in Whitehall, June 2 and runs until June 27.

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