Southwark Playhouse to revive classic 1960s gay play Staircase

Last Updated on 20 May 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

John Sackville and Paul Rider will star in Two’s Company’s revival of Charles Dyer’s comedy, Staircase, at Southwark Playhouse in London

Staircase Southwark Playhouse

Southwark Playhouse is to stage a revival of Charles Dyer’s largely forgotten 1966 play, Staircase, about two men in a gay relationship at a time when it was illegal.

Paul Rider and John Sackville will star in the comedy which is running at the London theatre from 23 June to 17 July. It is being produced by Two’s Company which specialises in bringing back forgotten masterpieces.

The play was originally presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1966 with Paul Scofield and Patrick Magee and adapted into a film of the same name in 1969 with Rex Harrison and Richard Burton.

Set in the early 1960s, it features Brixton hairdressers Charlie and Harry who have been together for 20 years. Quick humour and dreams keep them afloat but same-sex relationships are illegal and Charlie has been arrested in a pub while sitting on a man’s knee. Simmering underneath the banter and hilarious mockery, Charlie anxiously awaits a court summons and Harry has his own troubles: his hair is rapidly falling out, a disaster for a hairdresser.

Running through this laugh-out loud comedy is the sadness of those unable to live openly because the law and the public condemn them to an undercover life. Change may be in the air – with partial decriminalisation of homosexuality introduced in 1967 – but, for these two, it might as well be 100 years away. Staircase is a clarion call for a more accepting and generous society, for a world where people can be who they are in their hearts, where love is love and that love is championed in all its forms.

Staircase is directed by Tricia Thorns, the artistic director of Two’s Company, with a team including set designer Alex Marker, costume designer Emily Stuart, lighting designer Neill Brinkworth, sound designer Dominic Bilkey and producer Graham Cowley.

About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.