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Sarah Lancashire and Martin Freeman

Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire in West End world premiere

Published May 19, 2017

MGC and Headlong today announce the world première of James Graham’s new play
Labour of Love, with Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire leading the company. Labour of Love sees the return of MGC to the West End following Photograph 51 and their acclaimed 2013/14 season, also at the Noel Coward Theatre, and for Headlong with the multi award-winning People Places and Things, 1984 and most recently James Graham’s This House.

This razor-sharp political comedy reunites James Graham and director Jeremy Herrin following their previous collaboration on Headlong’s This House, which was recently revived at the Garrick Theatre, following its earlier critically acclaimed run at the National Theatre. Labour of Love opens at the Noel Coward Theatre on 25 September, with previews from 15 September, and runs until 2 December.

MGC continue their commitment to offer over 20,000 tickets at £10 (including booking fee and restoration levy), which is 25% of the tickets for the entire run, across all levels of the auditorium. In addition, they will stage access performances – with both captioned and audio described performances.

Michael Grandage said today, “This wonderful new play by James Graham is the start of a body of work that MGC will be producing over the next two years as we continue our commitment to delivering quality theatre at affordable prices in the West End. For this first production, I am delighted Jeremy Herrin and Headlong, a company I have long admired, are joining us.”

Jeremy Herrin added, “I’m delighted to be working on such a funny and politically insightful play as Labour of Love, and it’s a privilege to continue my creative relationship with James Graham. It’s a real testament to his writing that it has attracted two perfectly matched actors, both at the height of their powers, as Martin Freeman and Sarah Lancashire. I loved working with Michael at the Donmar, and I’m really looking forward to Headlong and MGC teaming up to bring the best in contemporary theatre to the West End this autumn.”

Labour MP David Lyons cares about modernisation and “electability”… His constituency agent, Jean Whittaker cares about principles and her community. Set away from the Westminster bubble in the party’s traditional northern heartlands, this is a clash of philosophy, culture and class against the backdrop of the Labour Party over 25 years, as it moves from Kinnock through Blair into Corbyn… and beyond?

Martin Freeman plays David Lyons. For theatre, his credits include Richard III (Trafalgar Transformed), Clybourne Park, Kosher Harry (Royal Court Theatre) and Blue Eyes and Heels (Soho Theatre). For television, his work includes Sherlock (Emmy and BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actor), Startup, The Eichmann Show, Fargo (Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor), The Office (BAFTA TV nomination for Best Supporting Actor).

Sarah Lancashire plays Jean Whittaker. Her theatre work includes Betty Blue Eyes (Novello Theatre), and Michael Grandage’s production of Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre). Her extensive television credits include Happy Valley (for which she received the BAFTA for Best Actress earlier this week, RTS Award for Best Actress, Best Actress Award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival, National Television Award for Best Drama Performance).

James Graham’s theatre work includes This House (National Theatre – Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play, and Garrick Theatre – Olivier Award nomination for Best Revival), Monster Raving Loony (Theatre Royal Plymouth and Soho Theatre), The Vote (Donmar Warehouse, broadcast live on More4 on election night and nominated for Best Live Event at the BAFTA TV awards), The Angry Brigade (Theatre Royal Plymouth and Paines Plough), the Broadway musical Finding Neverland, written with Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, Privacy (Donmar Warehouse), The Man (Finborough Theatre and on tour), The Whisky Taster (Bush Theatre) and Tory Boyz (Soho Theatre). 

Jeremy Herrin directs. His credits for Headlong, where he is Artistic Director, include most recently Jack Thorne’s acclaimed Junkyard (UK tour), the Olivier Award-winning People, Places and Things (National Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and forthcoming UK tour), The Absence of War (UK tour), The Nether (Royal Court, Duke of York’s Theatre), This House by James Graham at the National Theatre, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Director (also most recently at the Garrick Theatre – Olivier nomination for Best Revival), and Common which opens later this month at the National Theatre.