After a record-breaking run at Park Theatre, and huge critical and public acclaim, Jonathan Maitland’s debut play, DEAD SHEEP, directed by Ian Talbot OBE, will tour the UK from 6 September – 28 November 2016. Steve Nallon will return to the production to star as ‘Margaret Thatcher’, having portrayed her for many years on the political puppetry satire Spitting Image. Paul Bradley, best known for playing ‘Professor Elliot Hope’ in Holby City, will play ‘Geoffrey Howe’, Carol Royle will play ‘Elspeth Howe’, Graham Seed will play ‘Ian Gow / Nigel Lawson’, Tony Bell will play ‘Bernard Ingham / Alan Clark / Dennis Thatcher’ and John Wark will play ‘Stephen Wall / Brian Walden’.
Jonathan Maitland said, “When I wrote Dead Sheep in 2014 I knew it would be resonant. But it now feels uncanny. Then, as now, it was a story of a government split over Europe, agonising conflicts of loyalty, and a fatal miscalculation by a seemingly impregnable Prime Minister. The timing couldn’t be sweeter: especially since we’re playing Birmingham in September, during the week of the Tory party conference. We’re considering a special seating policy for that leg of the tour: Remainers in the circle, Leavers in the stalls...”
It is 1989 and a seemingly invincible Prime Minister has sacked her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, thinking she had nothing to fear from him; his speaking skills had, famously, been compared to those of a dead sheep. But inspired by his wife Elspeth – a formidable and witty feminist, whose relationship with Thatcher was notoriously frosty – Howe overcame his limitations to destroy Mrs Thatcher’s political career…and also his own.
Dead Sheep portrays the true story of how Mrs. Thatcher, the most divisive Prime Minister of modern times, was brought down by her one time friend and political soul mate Geoffrey Howe. Using imagined dialogue to portray private scenes between the main protagonists, it recreates the events leading up to Howe’s famous 1990 speech, in which he criticised Thatcher for undermining policies on economic and monetary union in Europe, ultimately leading to her downfall and resignation. Dead Sheep is the result of two years’ research, during which the playwright gained access to Geoffrey Howe himself and other prominent politicians and advisers of the era.