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TRCH David Suchet

Nottingham Playhouse Conspiracy Season

25 August 15 words: Lucy Manning and Hazel Ward
Wellington Circus is getting taken over by the suspicious, with plays The Duchess of Malfi, 1984, Any Means Necessary and The Rubenstein Kiss
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Duchess of Malfi

Conspirators:
Directed by Fiona Buffini, Nottingham Playhouse’s Associate Director. Written by Jacobean playwright John Webster yonks ago, in 1613.

Date of Leak:
Friday 30 October – Saturday 14 November. Check the Playhouse website for ‘Pay What You Can’ nights.

Information on File:
The Duchess secretly marries her servant after the death of her first husband, leading her power-hungry brothers to exact a ruthless plan to maintain their family’s status, power and image. Foregoing all morality, their desire to control their sister gets out of hand, resulting in the most vicious revenge play to date. It’s got it all: corruption, abuse of power, revenge, deception, the female struggle, cruelty, incest, and class.

Intel:
As ‘orrid as it sounds, the play is actually based on a true story. Giovanna d’Aragona was the Duchess of Malfi in the early sixteenth century, and secretly married her steward, Antonio Beccadelli di Bologna. After her brother, Cardinal Luigi d’Aragona found out, he expelled the couple from their hideout in Ancona, before capturing the duchess and her youngest children. She was never seen again, and was presumed to have been murdered.
 

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Any Means Necessary

Conspirators:
Actor Kefi Chadwick penned the play especially for Nottingham Playhouse. February 2016 marks the premiere.

Date of Leak:
Friday 5 – Saturday 20 February 2016

Information on File:
One night, more than 100 environmental protesters were raided and arrested under suspicions that they planned to take over the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. 26 were brought to court, and convictions seemed inevitable, but there was one problem – one of the main organisers of the protest was an undercover policeman who was working for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit. Mark Stone – real name Mark Kennedy, aka Flash – was unmasked like a Scooby-Doo villain. But his involvement in the environmental group didn’t end with activism – he also had romantic relationships with the subjects of his sleuthing, the longest of which lasted six years.

Intel:
Stone became the poster boy for undercover police scandal, and one of the inspirations behind Chadwick’s Any Means Necessary. Fuelled by further reports about the lengths which police officers will go while undercover to protect their true identity or, in some cases, take advantage of the opportunity. The play looks at police spies who have become tangled in their own lies, sometimes to the point of marrying and fathering children with the objects of their surveillance, with a particular focus on the unwitting wives of these moles.
 

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The Rubenstein Kiss

Conspirators:
The debut script from playwright James Phillips, it was awarded the John Whiting Award and the TMA Award for Best Play. The first performance took place in 2005.

Date of Leak:
Friday 2 – Saturday 17 October 2015

Information on File:
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a couple who allegedly spied for the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the fifties, were convicted and later executed in 1953 for espionage conspiracy – the only two American citizens to actually receive this punishment during the entire Cold War. Family members confirmed that the two were complicit in leaking sensitive information to the enemy, but doubts about their guilt remained, fuelled by inconsistencies, and some rather convenient last-minute testimony ‘proving’ Ethel’s guilt. They became the symbol of a battle between the government and those who protested that rampant McCarthyism had gone too far. Support from people including Einstein, and several petitions for stays of execution delayed the end, but ultimately they were both sent to the chair.

Intel:
A fictionalisation of real-life events, the play transforms the Rosenbergs into Jakob and Esther Rubenstein, a couple who may have suffered a heinous miscarriage as a result of the rabid witch-hunts in McCarthy’s America. Their lives play out on stage, intermingled with the story of two strangers, Anna and Matthew, who meet, years later, in a museum in 1975 before a photograph capturing a passionate kiss between the Rubensteins as they’re held in a police van. The encounter between Anna and Matthew sparks both passion and an investigation into the truth behind the Rubensteins’ arrest and trial.
 

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1984

Conspirators:
Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke wrote the stage adaptation, which debuted in 2013 at Nottingham Playhouse, but George Orwell was, of course, the mastermind behind the 1949 novel.

Date of Leak:
Wednesday 9 – Saturday 26 September 2015

Information on File:
We all know the story: Winston Smith struggles with the dystopian world of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four under the omniscient eye of Big Brother. But what’s always made this novel more than just a bleak sci-fi tale is the way that every year, it looks as though our world creeps closer to the world that confines Smith. Concepts such as Big Brother, doublethink, and thoughtcrimes have been seamlessly adopted into modern Western culture, and with each new revelation of shady politics we find ourselves disturbed by the way Orwell’s ideas seem to predict our world: as if his cutting insights into total governmental control provided those in charge with a blueprint for further corruption, rather than a warning.

Intel:
Icke and Macmillan‘s adaptation challenges the ideas of what is real and what isn’t within the world of 1984, turning up the ambiguity and uncertainty of the novel to full throttle through a variety of clever techniques: Winston seems to hover between 1984, and a nebulous present-day, which is designed to help draw comparisons between our world and his. Unlike the majority of plays, it is performed without an interval, meaning the suffocating tone of the Orwellian nightmare is relentless for the audience as well as the characters (so go to the loo before the show, or risk sitting with tightly-crossed legs for the duration).

Nottingham Playhouse website

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