Director hopes Laughton play will find new stages

Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton

The Stephen Joseph Theatre’s latest production, Laughton, has been hailed a success by the venue’s artistic director who now hopes to take it across the country.

In its ongoing commitment to champion new writing, last month the venue staged work by emerging Scarborough playwright Roger Osborne who was specially commissioned to write a script based on of the town’s most famous sons, actor Charles Laughton.

Its cast of four, led by BBC The Thick Of It star Vincent Franklin in the title role and Kacey Ainsworth, Eastenders’ Little Mo, as wife Elsa Lanchester, with Christopher Wright in the role of three Catholic priests and Barnaby Sax as Laughton’s younger lovers, performed in the theatre-in-the-round for a 12-show run.

Laughton was praised by critics, including The Scarborough News, and received four star reviews from both The Guardian and the theatre website What’s On Stage.

Guardian reviewer Alfred Hickling called it a ‘finely nuanced production’ and commended Kacey Ainsworth’s “touching portrayal” as Lanchester and Vincent Franklin’s depiction of Laughton as a “caustic, self-loathing figure.”

Following a positive reception, the theatre is now looking to extend the show in a possible tour.

The theatre’s artistic director Chris Monks said: “At the Stephen Joseph Theatre we’re ambitious and we want to export as much of the work that we produce in Scarborough as possible to put both the theatre and the town on the map.

“Laughton has been an unqualified success; a new play by an unknown playwright which has garnered excellent reviews, but more importantly surprised and moved our audience.

“Our excellent cast, led by Vincent Franklin and Kacey Ainsworth, are eager to reprise their roles. We would love for Laughton to have a further life and we are actively pursuing partners to make this happen.”

Charles Laughton was born at what is now the Old Vic. He was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1930s.