Socially distanced comedy brings theatre to Lauderdale House’s tea lawn

The Cast of Polite Conversation rehearse at Lauderdale House. Picture: Rebekah Harvey

The Cast of Polite Conversation rehearse at Lauderdale House. Picture: Rebekah Harvey - Credit: Archant

A bombshell discovery turns a post lockdown barbecue into marital warfare in Andrew Crook’s Polite Conversation at the Highgate arts centre

The Cast of Polite Conversation rehearse at Lauderdale House. Picture: Rebekah Harvey

The Cast of Polite Conversation rehearse at Lauderdale House. Picture: Rebekah Harvey - Credit: Archant

A socially distanced barbecue and a hostess who has just been served a bombshell revelation by her husband.

That’s the starting point for Andrew Crook’s comedy Polite Conversation which plays on the tea lawn at Lauderdale House later this month.

When Emma discovers the truth about hubby, she has no choice but to begin a domestic dispute moments before their guests arrive. And as the evening progresses, both feel bound to unpack all the marital baggage that, in polite company, should probably be left unsaid.

Producer Rebekah Harvey said: “It’s the first theatre I have done since lockdown and the fastest turnaround ever for a show, but the window was short because of the weather.


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“It was heartbreaking that there was no theatre or prospect of it for months, so as soon as we heard from the Government that it was possible to perform outdoors, we talked to the scriptwriter about extending the play and decided to put on a show.”

Originally performed as a 20 minute short at Maida Vale’s Canal Cafe Theatre, the play now runs at an hour. Harvey says the outdoor setting and humour hit the right note.

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“It seemed perfect that it was funny, set in a garden and wasn’t too long. People need to laugh and we when we spoke to Katherine at Lauderdale House she said people were desperate for the arts, there was a real hunger for it.”

She believes that audiences dipping their toe back into theatre-going would prefer to stay local - besides Director Elif Knight grew up in Highgate and was keen to bring theatre back to her old stomping ground.

“Local venues that people can access seem to be the way forward rather than trying to do something in Soho. Because it was new writing, we could incorporate into the script that the characters were socially distanced and it works!”

Harvey adds that all their actors had been out of work during lockdown and the play has provided work for four cast members and a production team of four.

“It felt really special to give a designer and stage manager the chance to work and make theatre again. For many it will realistically be 2021 before they will be back in a theatre.

“The main purpose is to make people laugh at the situation, and themselves. It’s a powerful way to deal with a crisis, rather than burden people with serious subject matter, it’s a good medicine for people to laugh and be entertained.

“Everything is so heavy right now, we want people to have a lovely evening.”

Polite Conversation runs at Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, N6 on August 31 and September 1, 3, 7, 8 and 10.

www.lauderdalehouse.org.uk/whats-on/polite-conversation

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