From a theatre history point of view London Assurance is unique. Dion Boucicault wrote it in three weeks in 1841. He was twenty. Some sources give his age as eighteen at the time.
That’s me sliding into character in the dressing room
The human Dionysus Boucicault captured some of the Dionysian spirit and poured it in this soufflé of a play. A piece which might also be called a keggeree, or a bubble-and-squeek. There are multiple overt and inferred Shakespearean references and themes, not to mention the derivation from Restoration and Carolinian drama generally. But then, if you were twenty (or eighteen) and had three weeks to write a play what would you do?
With the incomparably fabulous Rachel Pickup in rehearsal
Such derivative literary technique is time-honored of course. Shakespeare never bothered with an original plot as is well known, and looking forward through the 1800s, Oscar Wilde and Brandon Thomas evince traces of Boucicault – certainly Noel Coward in the 20th century took a minor character from London Assurance and made him famous as “Sollox” in Private Lives.
And the same moment, or just before, in performance
It’s always a vexed question for an actor as to whether to read reviews when the play opens. On this occasion I did. The press… well you can see for yourself at http://www.irishrep.org
Kudos to my fellow cast members, to numerous to list here but again, details at http://www.irishrep.org. Each of the actors I’m privileged to work with on this one, brings a lively inventiveness and vivid reality, helmed by the ever-creative Charlotte Moore, founder member of the Irish Rep, which translates to a sublime couple of hours in the theatre – Geez, I’m writing my own review here – reminds me of the famous dialogue between Anthony Sher when he played Richard III and Michael Caine who saw a performance.
Caine: And what about those reviews?!
Sher: Oh, I don’t read reviews.
Caine: Read ’em! You fuckin’ wrote ’em, didn’t you?
I am delighted to report that the show is selling well, we play thru January 26th 2020. The play among other things is an entertainment-antidote to the current state of world affairs, and I am able to write the time-honored marketing phrase, “Book now to avoid disappointment.” And just in case you missed it: London Assurance, directed by Charlotte Moore, tickets at http://www.irishrep.org