English Touring Theatre And RSC Announce Tour Of A MAD WORLD, MY MASTERS

Today English Touring Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company are delighted to announce their first collaboration, a national tour of Thomas Middleton's Jacobean 'city comedy' A Mad World My Masters which will culminate in the production coming to the Barbican in April 2015.

Sean Foley's critically acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production, for the 2013 season in the Swan theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, will be revived and premieres at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on 26 February 2015.

The production, a National Touring Group initiative, will then tour to Blackpool, Brighton, Malvern, Truro, Darlington and Cambridge before opening for a two week run at the Barbican in London on 27 April 2015. This version of the play is edited by Sean Foley and Phil Porter, with design by Alice Power and sound and music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Further creatives and full casting to be announced.

London, Soho, 1956. Where glamour rubs up against filth, and likes it; where the posh mix with musicians, whores and racketeers; where 'virginity is no city trade', and where a dashingly impecunious bachelor in need of quick cash and a good time has to live on his wits.

Turning con-man to fool his rich uncle, he variously becomes a lord, a high class call girl, and - God forbid - a poor actor. But a beautiful Soho tart is also on the scam: a whore to some, a religious instructor to others, and a debutante in need of an eligible bachelor to yet more...

Sean Foley and Phil Porter's edited version of Middleton's play is faithful to the original text but adapts it to fit the seedy world of 1950s Soho, updating character names and including songs of the time to enhance the biting satire of lust and deception in the life of Bohemian London.

Sean Foley said, "After working on A Mad World My Masters at the RSC studio, and then in production at The Swan, we came to one simple conclusion: though pretty unknown, this is one of the most hilariously wicked plays ever written.

"If new, it might be hailed as the bastard offspring of Richard Sheridan and Joe Orton. Love and Fortune are it's themes, but we're never left in any doubt that what we're really talking about is Sex and Money - and how if you have the one, you can use it to get the other... It is an anarchic, extremely funny satirical comedy that manages to be both outrageous but sweetly daft.

"In creating the show, we wanted to make sure that nothing got in the way of communicating Middleton's seething delight in exposing how hypocritical we can all be, so we set it at a time which is still within touching distance of us now. London is timeless, and 1950s Soho seemed to offer a stylish and recognisable stand in for London 1605: a post war world, where everyone is worried about sliding morals, the position of women, a changing class system, immigrants - and where on earth to get the next drink.

"With our 50's-style club band and fantastic R and B soul singer framing the action we could have live music too - which we know that the original had - which seemed perfect for what Middleton intended: the play itself is a vibrant celebration of live theatrical entertainment. A Mad World My Masters knows it's having fun poking fun at the audience, and it still makes us laugh like they must have done in 1605: uproariously, and at ourselves."

English Touring Theatre Director Rachel Tackley said, 'We are incredibly excited to be working with the RSC on such a magnificent project. This is the first time English Touring Theatre have collaborated with the RSC and, thanks to this, audiences across the country will have the opportunity to experience this hilariously entertaining production at their local theatre'.

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran said, '" It is great news that after its successful run last year in the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon we have the chance to share Sean Foley's wonderfully fresh production of A Mad World My Masters with audiences around the country, thanks to a new collaboration with English Touring Theatre. We are always keen to share work from Stratford- upon- Avon with as many people as possible - as our current live screenings to cinemas prove. English Touring Theatre are masters in taking shows, large and small, around the UK, and this production will be expanded from its original format but will retain the incredible skill and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of RSC work. I hope it enjoys a fantastic journey around the country."

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