NT Live: London Assurance

SCREENING JULY 24 & 25 (JULY 17 & 18 SA, WA) in 2010


Sir Harcourt Courtly is lured away from the epicentre of fashionable London by the promise of a rich and beautiful bride, Grace, several decades his junior. Arriving at Oak Hall, Gloucestershire, he marvels at this rural Venus until her charms are eclipsed by her hearty cousin, the foxhunting Lady Gay Spanker. Meanwhile his disguised son turns up in flight from his creditors and falls head over heels for Grace. When Lady Spanker discovers the young couple, she needs little prompting from the visiting chancer Dazzle to lead Sir Harcourt astray.

I am about to present society with a second Lady Courtly: young – blushing eighteen; lovely – I have her portrait; rich – I have her banker’s account. An heiress and a Venus!

Dion Boucicault, the Irish genius of London theatre in the age of Dickens, wrote the brilliantly funny London Assurance in 1841 and thereby created – in Sir Harcourt and Lady Spanker – two of the great comic roles of the English stage, played at the NT by Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw.

Give me the trumpet neigh, the spotted pack just catching scent. What a chorus in their yelp! The view-halloo, blent with a peal of free and fearless mirth! That’s our old English music – match it where you can.

5 STARS ‘This is an absolute corker of a production, one that will be talked about and chuckled over with reminiscent affection for years to come.' DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)

5 STARS 'London Assurance is the funniest and most assured comedy in all of London.' SUNDAY EXPRESS (UK)

4 STARS 'This is a treat - stylish, hilarious and unmissable... 'Nicholas Hytner is entirely at home with this wonderfully outrageous play.  This is what gives English theatre its strengths; classicists like him, Simon Russell Beale, Fiona Shaw and Richard Briers are happy to apply their talent and versatility to a boisterous social comedy.' THE SUNDAY TIMES (UK)

4 STARS 'Dion Boucicault, not much studied these days, was a prolific Irish playwright who was the Victorian era's Alan Ayckbourn.  His London Assurance is riotous, unpretentious fun.' DAILY MAIL (UK)

4 STARS 'This production is worth a visit to witness the sheer fun of Simon Russell Beale and Fiona Shaw having the time of their lives.' DAILY EXPRESS (UK)



DIRECTOR: Nicholas Hytner DESIGNER: Mark Thompson LIGHTING: Neil Austin MUSIC: Rachel Portman SOUND: John Leonard

CAST Mark Addy, Richard Briers, Matt Cross, Fiona Drummond, Mark Extance, Richard Frame, Junix Inocian, Tony Jayawardena, Simon Markey, Laura Matthews, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Paul Ready, Simon Russell Beale, Nick Sampson, Maggie Service, Fiona Shaw, Michelle Terry and David Whitworth.

NT Live participating cinemas for London Assurance

Click here to watch audience reactions to performances of this production of London Assurance at the National Theatre

Press images (select image and then right click to download)

All photographs by Catherine Ashmore

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