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Our Shows

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The Play with Speeches


This hilarious comedy from Olive & Stavros will be appearing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse for its fourth London run.


Penny and Anthony were once an item, but things went pear shaped and they broke up. Now Penny has accepted a job directing Anthony’s play and they’re all set to hold auditions. Anthony is wounded and Penny’s soon wondering whether working with her ex was her best idea. And then the actors arrive with enough emotional baggage to fill the dressing room. What could possibly go wrong?

The 13 to 18 June 2023 run at Upstairs at the Gatehouse will be directed by Katherine Reilly and Ursula Campbell. The play will once again feature Matthew Parker, who was nominated for an Off West End Award for lead performance in this play.

‘So, the speeches you’ll hear tonight are intended for use in that oddly artificial barometer of talent: the audition. They are all audition speeches. And it so happens that you’re going to see actors performing these speeches as audition pieces, as they’re here to audition for this play. Complicated, isn’t it?’

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The Play with Speeches is a new comedy by James Woolf.


'I’ll finish on a plea for 2023. Can we have more unabashed comedies like The Play with Speeches at the Jack Studio Theatre?'

Gary Naylor in his end of year review for Broadway World.



The Play with Speeches

Press for this show

‘This incredibly unique play-within-a-play written by James Woolf is a perfect blend of clever, entertaining writing… delivering fast-paced, farcical fabulousness throughout… a brilliantly clever, well-layered storyline, performed by an entire cast of incredibly talented, comedic performers.’ ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

‘The surprisingly extensive cast of nine are all excellent… The Play With Speeches is a clever, multi-layered comedy that provides instant humour but also plenty to try and wrap your brain around on the journey home. All in all, it’s good, silly fun with a fantastic central performance. What’s not to love?’ Theatre Things UK

‘It’s a refreshing pleasure to see something which is just funny…This fresh, original show is exactly what you need’  ★★★★ Sardines

'The nightmare of auditions turned into comic gold.' Riverside Radio

‘Fantastic fun with stellar performances.’ ★★★★ Fairy Powered Productions

‘I suspect those who don’t book quickly enough will miss the chance to lose themselves in this cleverly structured comedy now playing at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. This is a very funny play… Woolf’s great accomplishment is to transport the audience to a hall of mirrors where nothing is completely what it seems. If this was a thriller, it would be petrifying. Thankfully, this is a comedy and a deliciously funny one.’ British Theatre Guide


‘James Woolf’s meta-comedy is a hoot… Katherine Reilly’s assured direction keeps the audience on its toes… This is a very funny and clever play, with exceptional comedic performances from Parker and King.’ ★★★★ Fairy Powered Productions


‘What fun we have on this casting from hell! Matthew Parker finds a sweet spot somewhere between Ricky Gervais and Eric Morecambe for his nightmarish but charming Anthony. His reactions as the lines are spoken are priceless – meme material if ever there was such… an evening full of laughter illuminated by fine performances and a smart script.’ ★★★★ Broadway World


‘The play’s true strength is found in the interplay between Anthony and Penny, who deliver the standout performances and characterisations of the night. Their resentment and bitterness is comic gold, with King delivering an annoyed but quietly triumphant portrait, but Parker runs away with the night and most of the laughs… Is he funny? Undoubtedly.’ Always Time for Theatre

'In short, it’s guaranteed to make you smile and laugh – with much of the play’s fun triggered by Matthew Parker whose performance as Anthony is brilliantly over the top… He dominates the play from start to finish… All rather magnificent. All rather watchable. Julian Clary, eat your heart out. The Play with Speeches is a rather damn good play. Off west-end theatre at its best. Catch it if you can – and forget the world for 110 minutes.' ★★★★ Close-up Culture

'Writer James Woolf has given his cast some excellent lines, and his actors repay him with a series of snappy, sparkling performances. THE PLAY WITH SPEECHES is excellent entertainment, a fun show from the ever-reliable Brockley Jack Studio, and a valuable tonic.'  London Pub Theatres

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Voices from Ukraine

We've joined forces with a global initiative to put on Ukrainian play readings around the world. Set up with the support of Centre for International Theatre Development and in association with Theatre of Playwrights, Kyiv, it has been funding new theatre writing in
Ukraine since the invasion and aims to get the voices of the artists and people of Ukraine heard around the world.

As part of a network of theatre venues and companies to show solidarity with the people suffering through this conflict, our rehearsed reading will raise money in support of those affected at a time when that help is most acutely needed.

This evening of readings will be a selection of short pieces of work of contemporary Ukrainian playwrights written in direct response to the invasion followed by a longer piece, Olga Braga’s “Return to Sender”.


We are collaborating with Olga, who was a member of the Soho Theatre's associate writers scheme and is currently on commission with the RSC to write a new play addressing the current conflict.

Date and Cast to be confirmed

For ONE night only!

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Jo and Sam Find Themselves in Woking

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Jo and Sam find themselves in Woking received four award nominations in its first run at the Hen and Chickens Theatre.

When millennials, Jo and Sam, meet at the Lightbox, they find they have more to discuss than art. But will they stay together as a couple when the world around them is falling apart? Can they find meaning in Woking when it’s in such short supply everywhere else? Jo and Sam Find Themselves in Woking is a feisty comedy that’s not afraid to tackle the topics that concern us most.

James Woolf – writer

Katherine Reilly – director

Phoebe Marshall – performer

Kieran Dee – performer

Edmund Jolliffe - composer

Fríða Frosta - stage manager and techician

Dylan Mulholland - lighting designer

“What a fab fun show! Performed exclusively in rhyming couplets, this was a little gem! A fabulous performance from the cast and a great script make for a brilliant evening!” Theatre Reviews

“The charm, warmth and chemistry between the actors themselves under the expert direction of Katherine Reilly makes the whole thing an utterly beguiling delight.”  The Peg.

“From start to finish I was totally engaged and engrossed in Jo and Sam’s relationship. I felt completely safe in the hands of your two immaculate performers, I could go on forever and ever about how brilliant I think they are.”

Lewis Jenkins – audience member


“I so thoroughly enjoyed @JoandSamWoking #play by @WoolfJames at @HenandChicksN1 theatre this evening - funny, warm, human and natural in lyrical verse. It's really wonderful. GO AND SEE IT NOW.” Emma Dick – audience member

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Empty in Angel

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Empty in Angel tells the story of a bicycle courier and her community's astounding fight for workers’ rights in the gig economy – their simple demands for fairness, dignity and security which will end in a historic legal battle.

Based on actual events, Empty in Angel lifts the lid on the gig economy and tells it like it is. Empty in Angel is a powerful piece of political theatre about something happening right now, the burgeoning movement to fight back against the gig economy ethos.   


The play was written with the full knowledge, approval and cooperation of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), the trade union that supported the cycle courier through the court case which forms the foundation for this play.

Empty in Angel was highly acclaimed during both of its runs in 2019 and 2021, which included performances at the Bloomsbury Theatre, Old Red Lion, Etcetera Theatre and the White Bear Theatre. It was a finalist in two Standing Ovation awards and was nominated for an Offie for best performer. You can view a short audience reaction on our What they say about us page.


We aim to bring this show back as soon as possible.

“Informative, entertaining and awesome. Darcy Willison's performance is captivating. Great script mixing rap and rhythmic dialogue. A must see!” Thrifty Theatre

“An altogether admirable hour of theatre, both inspirational and engaging.”  London Pub Theatres Magazine.

“A superb call to arms for greater workers' rights. I'd thoroughly recommend you go and see while you can.” The Crumb.

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